Sports Law Specialization

A specialization in sports law might seem out of place at the nation's top environmental law school. But consider the impact that climate change will have on Vermont's ski industry...

By the middle of the 21st century, it's likely that cross-country skiing will no longer be possible in the state, and downhill skiing will be relegated to only the highest elevations, and for a much shorter season than we enjoy today. The law will play an important role in defining the future of the industry.

Consider also the number of safety, training, and enforcement protocols required in an industry that carries as much risk as does skiing. Mike O'Brien JD/MSEL '02 is associate general counsel at the University of Alaska, where he advises on a full spectrum of legal issues, including risk management at UAF's Nanook Terrain Park. He says, "The lawyer saying 'no' can be the death knell to any project involving risk ...[as a skier and ice climber] I know what the reward can be when you manage them properly."

Professor Brian Porto, director of the Sports Law Institute, also understands those risks, and has built a curriculum that teaches students how to use the power of the law to make a difference throughout the sports world, while still fostering fun and competition on the field. Vermont Law students will look closely at issues like concussions among football players, the role that Title IX plays in intercollegiate sports, and many other wide-ranging topics like antitrust, labor, intellectual property, immigration, and criminal law.