​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Water and Justice Program promotes the wise and sustainable use of water resources locally, nationally, and globally through research, education and policy development. The program complements the law school's outstanding faculty and diverse course offerings in the field of water law and policy. The program is administered by VLS's Environmental Law Center under the direction of Professors Jack Tuholske and John Echeverria. Program staff includes a research fellow and student research associates who contribute to reports, conference presentations, legal analyses, and law review articles to support the program's work. Faculty, staff and students meet regularly to discuss their research and learn about cutting-edge litigation and policy initiatives in the world of water law.

Based on a grant from the HKH Foundation, work will include a detailed examination of water governance for the Great Lakes region, including the public trust doctrine, water commons principles, statutory regimes that regulate water, international and Native American treaty rights that affect the Great Lakes, evolution of the common law, and other legal constraints on the use and governance of water. Additional work will focus on other areas of the public trust, Western water law, and government recognition and reservation of public rights in water.

The Water and Justice Program has appointed Chelsea Auerbach MELP '11, as a full time research fellow. She previously worked on water law and policy issues in Australia under a Fulbright Fellowship and with American Rivers, the nation's leading river conservation group. The Research Associates for 2015-2016 are Taylor Kennedy, Martin LaCroix, and Ian Peterson.

 To access our Public Trust Doctrine Resource Center, with its detailed compilation of public trust law review articles, cases, and other other information, please click here​.

Research Associates

Taylor Kennedy

JD/melp '16

Taylor, a native of Norton, Massachusetts, is a third year JD/Master of Environmental Law and Policy student, Senior Managing Editor of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, and pursuing her Water Law Certificate at Vermont Law School. Taylor’s appreciation for coastal waters developed early in life by spending her summers down the Cap​e and on Nantucket Island with her extended family. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern University in Criminal Justice and went on to Vermont Law School to pursue her interest in environmental law. Taylor is passionate about water law and policy and hopes to use her law degree to help protect water resources and the public’s access to it. In addition to her interest in water law, Taylor enjoys being on the beach, hiking, baking, and being outdoors.​


Marin LaCroix


Hailing from the drought stricken land of Sacramento, California, Marin is pursuing a dual degree program at Vermont Law School (VLS) and the University of Vermont (UVM).  After completing a Master’s of Business Administration in Sustainable Entrepreneurship from UVM, Marin is currently working on her Master of Environmental Law and Policy from VLS.  Pursuing a career in Sustainable Policy and Management, these two broad focuses are tempered with emphasis in the areas of water conservation and management as well as international business strategy.  Marin hopes to bring together the power of science, law, and business to cultivate global strategies to solve the big issues we face in the world today.
Marin graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2007, and had the opportunity to participate in the Semester at Sea program traveling around the world on a ship visiting 10 countries in 100 days. Post undergraduate, Marin joined Bears Stearns, which in 2008 was subsequently bought by J.P. Morgan during the financial crash. Marin transitioned over to what would become J.P. Morgan Securities LLC where she led operations for a start-up high net worth wealth management team that grew from three individuals to a practice of seven with half a billion in assets under management in four plus years.  Marin also had the opportunity, during her MBA program, to co-lead research for Novelis Inc. on their aluminum recycling and rolling expansion strategy in China.
Her recreational interests are in hiking, sailing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, and world travel.


Ian Peterson
JD '16

Ian Peterson, a California native, loves to swim, surf, and explore mountain lakes and rivers. He came to Vermont Law School after working for five years as an environmental planner at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. In that role, he helped communities identify and implement solutions to climate change. He also worked in the California Governor's Office of Planning and Research and the Natural Resources Agency. There, he helped develop and adopt guidelines to the California Environmental Quality Act that address greenhouse gas emissions. He received a Master's in City & Regional Planning from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and a BA from the University of California at Santa Barbara. The Western United States face enormous challenges to how natural resources are currently managed. Future demands that compete for water continue to pressure the delicate balance between economic and environmental needs struck in the past. Ian plans to return to California and continue to work in the fields of land use planning and natural resource management. ​

Jack Spicer

JD/Melp '17

Jack came to Vermont from the banks of the Big Darby Creek in central Ohio. While working at a canoe livery on the Big Darby, he was inspired to gain the tools that he witnessed private organizations and public agencies use to protect one of the most biologically diverse aquatic systems in the Midwest.  Jack is a second year JD/Master of Environmental Law and Policy student, Staff Editor for the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, and is pursuing a Water Law Certificate. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at Ohio University with a minor in Geography and a certificate in Law, Justice & Culture. He’s interested in working on water issues anywhere that will let him get his feet wet.