Skip to main content
Vermont Law School will continue with mostly virtual classes during the spring semester, however limited on-campus classes and access to campus services will be offered. For information on campus access, health and safety protocols, and testing requirements please visit
Layout Builder


5105/Administrative Law

Provides students with a working knowledge of the general principles of administrative law;  implementation of legislative policy through administrative agencies, including the role of administrative agencies in the governmental process, rulemaking, adjudication, and judicial review of agency actions.

5303/Advanced Energy Writing Seminar

This seminar provides students an opportunity to produce a significant written paper based on sophisticated research and thinking about a key area in energy policy and law. Seminar topics include proposals for reducing the economic and environmental costs of meeting energy needs. Efforts to reduce costs through more efficient delivery and end-use are assessed, with specific attention to the statutory, regulatory, and contractual techniques for creating sound incentives.

7380/Advanced Environmental Legal Research

Provides in-depth exposure to the most useful, efficient strategies and resources for environmental law research, including highly specialized information databases, advanced administrative law research, legislative history, and environmental news/updating services.

5401/Agriculture and the Environment

Land used for agricultural purposes (timer land excepted) accounts for nearly 53% of the total land area of the United States - the largest category of land use by far. This course addresses the complex and interconnected relationship of environmental and agricultural law, its historical roots and modern developments.

5498/America's Energy Crisis - Solutions

This course addresses the fundamental crisis in which growing energy demands are threatening the buffering capacity of our global atmosphere, while also producing the greatest emissions of most primary pollutants, and the struggle to identify and create the legal elements necessary to promote and ensure solutions.

5302/Animal Law

Illustrates how animal lawyers are advancing the U.S. legal system in the interest of protecting all animals. Although our laws view animals as personal property, these lawyers and policymakers craft legal and policy arguments, and act on innovative litigation strategies, to keep the law evolving..

5210/CERCLA Liability and Cleanup

Through this course students will become familiar with the statute that authorizes the cleanup of hazardous sites.  Students will sharpen their statutory, case and policy analysis skills, Traditional tort concepts of strict, joint and several liability will be examined in the context of hazardous site cleanup.  Related issues such as corporate structure, settlement, divisibility, apportionment, contribution and allocation of liability will also be addressed.

5425/Clean Transportation Law and Policy

Transportation is the leading source of climate pollution in the United States. This course is focused on a key pathway to reduce those harmful emissions: the electrification of our cars, trucks, and buses. We’ll examine the current federal landscape for regulation of tailpipe emissions and the range of clean transportation policy options, including a particular focus on the role of electric utilities and how electric vehicles can support a smarter, cleaner electricity grid.

5365/Climate Change: The Power of Taxes

This seminar explores the ways in which tax systems can effect change in the energy consumption behavior of business, industry, and consumers.  The seminar addresses issues of theory, policy, politics, and law and --while focusing on climate change-- provides students with a framework for understanding how and when to use tax measures to address other environmental problems.

5122/Communications, Advocacy and Leadership

Designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to operate effectively in a variety of environmental careers. Topics include communications to achieve public policy aims; development and implementation of legislative and policy campaigns; and management of environmental enterprises.

5306/Comparative Environmental Law Research Seminar

A research and writing seminar that provides a framework and faculty supervision for students to engage in comparative environmental law research. While the seminar is designed primarily to support VLS students participating in the US-China joint student research projects and will focus generally on China, the seminar is sufficiently broad to accommodate students interested in researching the environmental law systems of other countries. Perspective & AWR.

7440/Comparative U.S.-China Environmental Law

An overview of the tremendous environmental challenges for the 1.3 billion people in China and the efforts to address them through law and regulation. After an introduction to the political and legal system and cultural background of the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, we will survey the basic regulatory schemes managing air quality, water resources and quality, natural resources, environmental impact assessments, and pending legislation concerning waste management and energy conservation.

5521/Earth Law

Examines assumptions underlying environmental, constitutional, corporate, and other laws, and how those assumptions impede our ability to live cooperatively and sustainably with the natural world. Identifies legal, governance, and economic systems that better recognize the inherent rights of all people and the natural world.


Explores the principles of ecology using an interdisciplinary approach and field-based work. Course work stresses the inventorying of biotic and physical components of a landscape, examining how these components are distributed, and determining what forces drive these patterns. Topics include interpreting the natural and cultural histories of a landscape, biodiversity conservation, and the scientific method, among others.

5405/Ecosystem Conservation Strategies

Focuses on the conservation theory behind landscape scale projects and specific implementation actions. Case studies draw conclusions for lawyers and practitioners. Materials draw on actual cases and projects involving The Nature Conservancy and others.

5497/End Use Energy Efficiency

This course describes the reasons for, techniques of, and results from, energy efficiency measures in leading programs around the United States. In exploring how leaders maximize energy efficiency results from the home and business to the grid, the course will explore the systems, policy, and legal basis that legitimize energy efficiency as an energy resource and assure societal trust in the outcomes.

5226/Energy Law and Policy in a Carbon-Constrained World

Examines key issues in American energy policy and searches for ways to ease the strains which that policy puts upon environmental sustainability. The course reviews fundamental facts about our energy demands and sample regulatory orders and legal writings that address many of those elements from the perspective of a legal review. Background readings will include ethical issues of social justice in siting projects and meeting or limiting energy demand, the statutory schemes underlying traditional regulation, and an introduction to wholesale electric markets.

9302/Environmental Advocacy Clinic

The EAC is a public interest environmental law firm. Student clinicians work on behalf of environmental and conservation organizations under the supervision of clinical faculty. In addition to work on cases, students attend weekly staff meetings and a weekly seminar.

6415/Environmental Dispute Resolution

Explores the range of processes that are used to resolve environmental disputes with particular emphasis on consensual processes such as negotiation and mediation. Instruction will be based on lectures and discussions of the theory of dispute resolution and environmental law and simulations to practice the skills needed to resolve environmental disputes.

5220/Environmental Economics and Marketing

Introduces students to the discipline of economics and exposes them to debates over the use of market-based instruments in environmental and energy policy. Through a mixed media approach discussion offers a comparative economic approach that highlights how the prevailing economic system has been incongruous with the social and ecosystem welfare.

5561/Environmental Enforcement and Compliance

Introduction to the enforcement of federal pollution control laws and a discussion of the basic regulatory structure of those laws and the enforcement tools available to regulators. Covers civil and criminal enforcement and alternatives to traditional command-and-control regulation and enforcement for gaining compliance with environmental standards.

5446/Environmental Justice

Examines the issues of environmental justice from an environmental law perspective and from a civil rights law perspective. Explores how environmental justice issues are framed, addressed, and resolved through litigation and mediation n the U.S. and internationally.

5115/Environmental Law

Please see class descriptions by term.

5449/Environmental Litigation Workshop

This course will provide students with intensive, practical experience with application of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in the context of civil environmental litigation.

5510/Essentials of Electric Grid: Engineering

The engineering realities of energy infrastructure systems can greatly constrain the choices that lawyers and policy analysts might otherwise make. This module will cover the engineering fundamentals inherent in electric power grids and will explain how these engineering realities affect market and regulatory choices.

5512/Essentials of Electric Grid: Legal

This module explores the expanding field of renewable energy development. It reviews local, state, and federal laws and policies that promote (and impede) such sources. Aside from the environmental and climate implications, there is nothing less at stake in the push for renewable energy than the very nature of our existing energy institutions. This module offers a brief look at various alternative mechanisms for delivering energy services including emerging models for relying on distributed generation.

5511/Essentials of Electric Grid: Business

Electric vehicles (EVs) are not just the way of the future; they are biggest growth opportunity for our electric utilities in nearly a century.

5380/Food Regulation and Policy

Presently, the United States is experiencing a resurgence in public concern over the safety of our food supply due to biotechnology, pesticide use, and unsafe food packaging, etc. This course will introduce students to the laws and policies that govern food regulation and policy in the United States.

5383/Food System Justice and Sustainability

This is a seminar on the impacts of our current globalized food system on the struggling margins that are impacted by individual production methods and inequitable distribution of healthy food. The course will examine the policy and program options that could help create a Good Food environment, where food is healthy, affordable, and sustainably and fairly produced.

5230/Global Energy Law and Policy

Global Energy Law and Policy explores the current policy framework in a particular region outside of the United States with a focus on clean energy policies. The course will explore the regions policy development process, the current energy policy framework, policies implementing global and regional climate commitments and emerging issues.

5478/Global Food Security and Social Justice

This course explores the legal landscape of global hunger: the definition of "food security"; food security risks; global food governance organizations and legal instruments; assessing and monitoring food security; food related human rights concerns; the current status of global food security; and the international NGO's strategies for policy advocacy against hunger.

7628/Indian Tribes as Government Stewards of the Environment

Examines the unique body of law governing Indian country, the geographic areas recognized by the federal government as the homelands of sovereign American Indian tribes. Major topics include the history of federal-tribal relations, tribal property rights, tribal court systems, and the balance of governmental power between tribes, states, and the federal government.

7421/International Environmental Law and Policy

Provides an overview of the structure and basic principles of international environmental law and policy. The course considers the challenge of addressing global environmental problems; the regulatory limitations of U.S. law; and the basic structure and principles of international environmental law. The course examines in detail the structure of the Montreal Protocol regime  and covers other areas, including treaties related to climate change, biodiversity and wildlife protection, and the intersection of international trade and the environment.

7450/International Investment Arbitration and the Environment

Covers particular themes where human rights, environmental, and investment law interact, such as the right to health, due process and denial of justice, property rights and expropriation, and stabilization clauses and positive human rights obligations. The course places special emphasis on ongoing negotiations, as well as on investment, human rights, and environmental cases decided by international tribunals.

7446/International Trade and the Environment

Examines the intersection between trade liberalization and environmental protection. The course addresses protection of natural resources through unilateral trade-based measures, the legality of multilateral environmental agreements employing trade measures, utilization of science-based trade tests, and environmental impacts of foreign investment liberalization. .

107/Intro Am Legal System: Com Law, Legislation, Reg

This course provides foreign-trained lawyers with a thorough introductory grounding in the U.S. legal system, environmentally-relevant common law, constitutional law, legislative and regulatory regimes, and the skills needed to access and utilize appropriate materials. Designed primarily for lawyers trained in the civil code system, this class will train students to effectively read and analyze cases, read and interpret statues and regulations, and understand areas of authority derived from each.

5474/Land Conservation Law

Examines the tools available to preserve ecological diversity, historic places, working lands, scenic viewsheds, and open space, such as conservation easements, purchase of sensitive lands, and private/public partnerships for land conservation. The course provides a practical understanding of both the legal and nonlegal dimensions of land conservation transactions involving conservation easements.

5239/Land Transactions and Finance

An introduction to land transaction and finance, covering the study of the title system, title insurance and land contracts, the private development process, and modern real estate financing, including private financing and public financing. The course also introduces the public-private development process including redevelopment, military base conversion and Brownfield's redevelopment.

5125/Land Use Regulation

A basic course in land use law.  Covers planning and all manner of private and public land use regulation from common interest communities, to subdivisions, to zoning, to variances, to planned development districts, to transit-oriented development, to traditional neighborhood design, to form-based codes, to growth management.

5472/Law of Ecosystem Management

The concept of ecosystem management is sweeping through federal and state resource agencies, altering their orientation toward resource use and conservation issues, but what is the law of ecosystem management?  This course explores that question beginning with an introduction to the concept of ecosystem management-its history, principles, and current state of play in concrete policy settings.  The course then explores laws and regulations relating to the six types of ecosystems often described in ecosystem management literature-forests, grasslands, freshwater, coastal and marine, fragile and h

5381/Local Farm and Food Law in Practice

Teaches the nuts and bolts of providing legal services to farmers and food entrepreneurs (producers/retailers/restaurants), drawing from the rich examples of farmer and food entrepreneurs locally. Such skills are needed to equip students with real world legal knowledge for those students seeking to provide legal services in this area or who wish to start an entrepreneurial career in food and agriculture. A JD skills class. 

5381/Local Farm and Food Law in Practice

Teaches the nuts and bolts of providing legal services to farmers and food entrepreneurs (producers/retailers/restaurants), drawing from the rich examples of farmer and food entrepreneurs locally. Such skills are needed to equip students with real world legal knowledge for those students seeking to provide legal services in this area or who wish to start an entrepreneurial career in food and agriculture.

5423/Ocean and Coastal Law

A review of domestic and international laws and treaties relating to coastal management, pollution, protected areas, endangered species, fish, marine mammals, wetlands, and seabed mineral and hydrocarbon resources. The course considers how effectively these legal authorities blend together to provide rational and comprehensive management and protection of marine resources.

5468/Oil and Gas Production and the Environment

A review of the major contracts used to explore for and produce oil and gas in the U.S. and internationally. The course covers leasing practices on public lands in the U.S. and the acquisition of host government contracts from foreign governments, and provides an understanding of the future of petroleum as a resource, the technology used to produce it, and the externalities of production.

5564/Peace, War and the Environment

This course explores environmental protection during armed conflict and analyzes the role of environmental management in peacekeeping and state reconstruction. It considers current challenges in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and discusses how environmental obligations may be incorporated into the laws of new states.

5540/Public Health and Food and Agriculture Policy

An in depth exploration of agricultural and food laws and policies and the regulatory mechanisms supporting them. The covers public health issues including Farm Bill nutrition assistance programs, food access, obesity and malnutrition, food safety and food-borne diseases, genetically modified foods, organic and other certification schemes, and the debate about food systems and sustainability.

5462/Public Lands Management - Montana Field Study

A comparative approach to competing legal mandates and diverse philosophies that make federal land management a lively topic not only in the West, but throughout the country. Resource extraction, preservation, and sustainable/multiple-use concepts are addressed.

5492/Renewable Energy Law and Policy

This course explores the expanding field of renewable and alternative energy supplies. It reviews local, state and federal laws and policies that promote (and impede) such sources, and considers emerging distributed generation models. Turning to technology-specific evaluations, it surveys the range of emerging technologies and looks in depth into some specific models of high potential or value, concluding with consideration of proposed strategies for reducing greenhouse gases.

5550/Renewable Energy Project Finance And Development

This course will provide an in-depth look at the legal and regulatory issues associated with the development and project financing of renewable energy projects such as wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal. The course will explain the various ownership structures that are used for developing an energy project, such as LLC arrangements and partnership agreements.

5112/Science for Environmental Law

Introduces students to the science critical to environmental law and policy, including climate science, air pollution, toxicology, and natural resource management. It also introduces students to scientific thinking and culture, and explores some of the challenges involved in effectively using science in legal and policy decision-making.

5408/The Law of Animals in Agriculture

Covers the evolution and regulation of animal agriculture in America, contrasted with farmed animal welfare policies in other developed nations. Will evaluate the long-term sustainability of CAFO food production specifically and animal food production generally. Students will explore the pressures from increased international trade in agricultural products.

5410/The Modern Farm Bill

Introduces students to the breadth of policies and legal authorities included in the Farm Bill that Congress re-evaluates every 5 years. Time will be spent on farm safety nets, conservation and nutrition policies. This course will also demonstrate the depth that a modern farm bill reaches with impacts on private working lands and consumers. International trade, clean energy, forestry, rural development, and overall food policies will be reviewed..

5246/Water Quality

An in depth analysis of the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Ocean Dumping Act, along with relevant regulations, policies and case law. Other federal statutes are covered more selectively, along with state laws. Regulation of groundwater contamination is included as well as tort claims for damages.

5250/Watershed Management and Protection

Taking "ecosystem approach" to the study of watersheds and the laws that attempt to restore and maintain them, the course contrasts the current fragmented approach of pollution control and land use law with the kind of integration that is needed to deal more effectively with the problems affecting watersheds. Topics include the public trust doctrine, water allocation, pollution control, floodplains and wetlands conservation, storm water controls, "factory farms," endangered species preservation,  and ecological restoration.