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The back entrance of Oakes Hall.

Facts About VLS

The fact is, Vermont Law School is one of a kind. Beyond our top U.S.News ranking in environmental law, we offer figures and facts about our class profiles, intensive curriculum, innovative experiential learning programs, and accomplishments of our stellar faculty and alumni. As a whole, the facts paint a picture of an engaged school with a clear purpose.

We know that numbers can't tell the whole story. But perhaps they can draw you to Vermont, where the VLS community can speak for itself.


Students on the back porch of Debevoise Hall.Overview

  • One of a handful of independent, private law schools in the U.S.
  • Mission statement: "To educate students in a diverse community that fosters personal growth and that enables them to attain outstanding professional skills and high ethical values with which to serve as lawyers and environmental and other professionals in an increasingly technological and interdependent global society"
  • Motto: Lex pro urbe et orbe—Law for the community and the world.
  • Ranked first or second in environmental law by U.S.News & World Report for 23 years running.
  • Has placed first 15 times since the U.S.News & World Report environmental specialty rankings began in 1991, and has never placed lower than second.
  • Ranked as a leading clinical law program by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Named one of the best law schools for public interest law by The National Jurist.
  • Named one of the best law schools for women by The National Jurist.
  • Fully accredited by the American Bar Association, the Association of American Law Schools, and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
  • Located in the village of South Royalton—a National Register Historic District—on the banks of the White River.
  • Comprises 19 buildings on a 13-acre campus, including:
    • a landmark historic 1893 schoolhouse with distinctive bell tower, completely restored and dedicated as Debevoise Hall in 2005, and which received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver Certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC);
    • an iconic 1894 village store and office building, renovated and restored in 2012 to create the new Center for Legal Services, which houses the South Royalton Legal Clinic, the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, and Barrister's Book Shop;
    • another National Register of Historic Places building, the 1853 Old Schoolhouse, which served for years as the town graded school, then a grange hall and apartment house, before its 2008 restoration when it became home to VLS's Legal Writing Program;
    • a modern classroom building, James L. and Evelena S. Oakes Hall, opened in 1998, which has been recognized for outstanding environmental design by the American Consulting Engineers Council, the Vermont Governor's Awards for Excellence in Pollution Prevention, the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, the Boston Society of Architects, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.
  • Established in 1972 with the first class enrolled in 1973 and graduated in 1976.

Student Body

Profile of the Fall 2013 Entering Class

  • 129 JD students, 40 MELP students, and 16 LLM students
  • represented are 35 states and territories, and countries including China, Brazil, Spain, Canada, France, Grenada, and New Zealand
  • Entering JD class is 42 percent male, 58 percent female, 23 percent people of color
  • Average age: 26

Faculty and Administrators

  • Vermont Law School has 57 full-time faculty, 5 part-time faculty, and 34 adjuncts.
  • We have 3 vice presidents, 8 deans, 16 directors, and 3 professional librarians.
  • Faculty members have degrees from institutions such as Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Vermont Law School, Georgetown, University of California, and University of Chicago
  • Faculty members have served as Visiting Professors at Dartmouth College; United States Military Academy; University of California-Hastings College of Law; Harvard Law School; Yale Law School; University of Paris 13, France; McGill Law School, Montreal; University of Trento, Italy; University of Seville, Spain; National University of Rwanda Faculty of Law, Rwanda; Petrozavodsk State University Faculty of Law, Russia; and Charité Medical Faculty of Humbuldt University, Germany
  • Faculty members have been awarded recent Fulbright Scholarships to China, Senegal, and Montenegro
  • Faculty members have worked for such entities as the U.S. Department of Energy, United Nations Development Program, Amnesty International, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Environmental, and the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • Faculty members have published more than 50 books and have had articles published by such journals as the Journal of Legal Education, Hastings International and Comparative Law Journal, William and Mary Environmental Law & Policy Review, Iowa Law Review, New Jersey Law Journal, Chicago Journal of International Law, Chicago-Kent Law Review, Criminal Law Bulletin, Duke Journal on Gender, Policy & Law, Environmental Forum, European Intellectual Property Review, European Review of Native American Studies, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Harvard Environmental Law Journal, Hastings Women's Law Journal, International Law, Jurimetrics, Notre Dame Law Review, Syracuse Law Review, and Tax Law, among others.


  • Traditional core legal curriculum and experiential programs with a specialty in environmental law
  • Degree programs offered: Juris Doctor (JD), Master of Environmental Law and Policy (MELP), Master of Energy Regulation and Law (MERL), Joint JD and MELP, LLM in Environmental Law, LLM in Energy Law, and the LLM in American Legal Studies (for international students). The LLM in Environmental Law and Master of Laws in Environmental Law degree programs are also available online.
  • JD curriculum prepares graduates to practice law in all 50 states
  • Offers the largest number of environmental law courses in the country
  • Most VLS students choose clinical work on campus or externships in law firms, corporations, nonprofits, courts, and government offices, at home and abroad.
  • Award-winning General Practice Program integrates substantive law and professional skills by simulating a general practice law firm; professors, in the role of senior partners, instruct and supervise student “associates”; offers off-campus experience in the fourth semester
  • Three-semester Legal Writing Program culminates in an Appellate Advocacy course featuring the preparation of briefs for cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Leading experts explore major environmental issues during interdisciplinary Summer Session for lawyers and nonlawyers
  • Three courses at Thayer School of Engineering and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth are open to VLS students, and seven courses at VLS are open to students in the Master of Environmental Engineering program at Thayer and the MBA program at Tuck
  • Joint degree program with The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies allows individuals to earn both a master's degree from Yale and a JD law degree from VLS
  • Dual MBA/MELP degree program with the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
  • Special program allows individuals to earn both a bachelor's degree from the University of Vermont and a JD law degree from VLS in six years instead of the usual seven; dual MS/MELP degree program with the University of Vermont School of Natural Resources
  • Dual JD/MELP programs with the University of South Dakota and the University of South Carolina law schools
  • Exchange programs with five U.S. law schools, and with international partners including McGill University (Montréal, Québec, Canada), the University of Cergy-Pontoise (Paris, France), the University of Trento (Trento, Italy), and Renmin University of China School of Law (Beijing, China)
  • Vermont Law School and the University of Cergy-Pontoise (France) offer a dual JD/MII-DJCE degree program in the law of business organizations to students from both institutions.

Experiential Programs

  • More than half of our JD students enroll in a practicum-based learning experience; these programs also attract visiting students
  • South Royalton Legal Clinic provides legal services for lower-income Vermonters in a broad array of civil cases and has won precedent-setting cases before the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont and the Vermont Supreme Court. In the last decade the clinic has represented indigent clients in over 771 cases.
  • Off-campus experiential programs include:  Full-time JD Externships—Semester in Practice, Legislation Clinic, Criminal Law Clinic, Land Use Clinic, part-time Judicial Externships, and MELP and LLM Externships
  • General Practice Program simulates the circumstances encountered in a general practice
  • Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic established in 2002. This clinic brings major case litigation on important environmental matters.

Graduates (Class of 2012)

Bar passage rate
  • Passage rate for VLS graduates taking the bar for the first time in 2012: 72.43%.

Graduates (Class of 2011)

  • 84 percent of JD graduates in the Class of 2011 who sat for a bar exam passed the bar (as of summer 2012).
  • 80 percent of the Class of 2011 were employed or in a degree program within nine months of graduation.
  • 35 percent of the Class of 2011 graduates are in private practice; 19 percent work in business and industry; 16 percent hold judicial clerkships; 12 percent work in public interest law or nonprofits; and 18 percent work in government or military.
  • 38 percent of the 2011 graduating class found legal and professional employment in New England, 61 percent elsewhere nationally, and 1 percent internationally.

Environmental Law Center

  • Environmental law program is ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report's 2013 edition of America's Best Graduate Schools, the fourthyear in a row and 15th time overall the program has received this ranking
  • Established in 1978 to educate for environmental stewardship
  • Administers the Master of Environmental Law and Policy (MELP), Master of Energy Regulation and Law (MERL), LLM in Environmental Law, and LLM in Energy Law degree programs, including on-campus and MELP and LLM in Environmental Law online programs
  • Summer Session offers more than 30 cutting-edge courses in environmental law, policy, science, ethics, and alternative dispute resolution, taught by top experts in their fields
  • Provides externships in Washington, D.C., and throughout the U.S. and select foreign countries
  • Conducts policy research, sponsors conferences, publishes scholarly papers, and awards fellowships
  • Institute for Energy and the Environment established in 2005
  • U.S.-China Parntership for Environmental Law established in 2006



  • Julien and Virginia Cornell Library, opened 1991, features a collection of approximately 230,000 volumes, with one of the best collections of environmental materials in the country
  • Numerous online resources include Westlaw/Dialog and LexisNexis, environmental and international law resources, and indexes and databases for legal and nonlegal books and journals
  • Information professionals with JD and MLS degrees, who are experts in teaching, providing reference services, and selecting print and digital legal resources
  • Primary sources for research in the law of all 50 states and federal law, and a leading collection in environmental law
  • A research facility for practicing lawyers in Vermont and New Hampshire
  • A fully automated library system featuring JULIEN, the online library catalog; access to other collections through national interlibrary loan systems
  • Access to digital resources through library computing lab, the campus network, and wireless communications


  • Fully integrated, campus-wide computing network with fiber optic backbone
  • PC computing environment in the student labs; Internet connection with interactive website
  • Video conferencing facilities

Student Life

  • More than 40 campus groups including academic journals, sports and recreation, advocacy, and several diversity organizations
  • Students provide assistance with income tax preparation, serve as role models for local youth through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program, act as court- appointed guardians for children and mentally incompetent adults, publish summaries of Vermont court decisions, conduct research for Vermont attorneys, and support interns working on public interest projects
  • Students participate in national trial advocacy, environmental, and international moot court competitions; intramural Debevoise competition finalists argue before the Vermont Supreme Court
  • A select group of VLS students performs at least 200 hours of community service each for an agency working on legal issues as participants in the New Hampshire/Vermont Schweitzer Fellows Program, in collaboration with University of Vermont and Dartmouth College

Financial Aid

  • About 95 percent of students receive some form of financial assistance; 63 percent of students receive campus-based aid and 46 percent received Vermont Law School grants and scholarships
  • Many fellowship programs also offer financial assistance. For example, the First Nations Environmental Law Fellowship provides up to one year's tuition and assistance with living expenses to two Native Americans in the MELP program who have demonstrated a commitment to helping tribes manage their environmental programs
  • Vermont Law School Loan Repayment Assistance Program assists graduates entering low-paying, public interest positions to repay educational debts
  • The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Plan is a loan forgiveness program for federal student loan debt for graduates who go into public service employment.


  • Edward C. Mattes '83 in 2010 became the second alumnus to serve as chair of the VLS Board of Trustees
  • Marc Mihaly became president and dean in 2012
  • J. Scott Cameron '80 of Montpelier served on the VLS Board of Trustees for 26 years and as chair of the board from 2001-2010

Accreditation Status

Vermont Law School is approved by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association.

Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar of the American Bar Association
321 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60654-7598

Economic Impact

  • VLS contributes more than $35 million to the region's economy annually
  • Does not receive any state funding


  • The Vermont Supreme Court visits campus one day each year to hear arguments
  • VLS received a USAID grant in 2006 to partner with Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, to strengthen China's rule of law in environmental protection and to build capacity among individuals and academic, government, and private-sector institutions to solve pollution and energy problems
  • In 2010, the Department of Energy issued a $450,000 federal grant for Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment to conduct smart-grid research and analysis aimed at updating the U.S. power grid.
  • President and Dean Marc Mihaly signed the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment in 2012, committing to and promoting campus sustainability
  • The Vermont Law Review is published four times a year and organizes an annual symposium
  • The Vermont Journal of Environmental Law is an online journal, which organizes an annual spring symposium