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Congratulations to the Class of 2020 award winners!

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July 9, 2020

Congratulations to the Class of 2020 award winners!

On June 26, the VLS community gathered virtually to recognize several of our graduating students for outstanding service, stewardship and leadership, and to confer upon them the following awards:

National Association of Women Lawyers Award: Elyssa Elyssa WilladsenWilladsen

Presented to the outstanding law student in the graduating class of participating ABA-approved law schools who demonstrated academic achievement, exhibited motivation, tenacity and enthusiasm; contributed to the advancement of women in society; promoted issues and concerns of women in the legal profession; and earned the respect of the dean and law faculty.

Elyssa plans to finish her ADJ degree in the fall with an externship with Have Justice - Will Travel. She plans to stay in Vermont and continue working in family law. She is also interested in doing public defense work.

John Delemarre Award: Kyle Scott Clauss
Awarded for outstanding service to the Vermont Law School community in the enrichment and stewardship of the law school physical environment.


Kyle Scott Clauss

Kyle is looking for work in union-side labor law and contributing to the Harvard Law School Political Economy Association's "Reclaiming Legal Education" alternative curriculum project in the meantime. He will take the Washington DC bar this fall.

Jonathon B. Chase Paper Competition Winner: Gordon N. Merrick
Vermont Law Review established the Chase Paper Writing Competition to recognize excellence in writing. The competition is named for the late Jonathon B. Chase, who was the third dean of Vermont Law School. Only third-year law students, excluding Vermont Law Review members, may participate in the competition. A committee comprised of members of the Vermont Law Review Vol. 44 and Vol. 45 Senior Editorial Boards will anonymously choose one submission to be the Chase Paper.


Gordon will be working with the newly created Vermont Legal Food Hub and the Conservation Law Foundation on providing pro bono legal services to our food system operators.


Ballenger/Green Paper Competition Winner: Andrew Hursh
Vermont Law Review established the Ballenger/Green Memorial Paper to provide Vermont Law School students with a forum to explore issues of human diversity in the law through legal scholarship. The competition recognizes and remembers Chandra Ballenger ’02 and Orlando Green ’01. Chandra and Orlando were exemplary VLS students who passed away abruptly during their law school careers. All Vermont Law School students may participate in the competition. The papers must address issues of human diversity and the law, such as race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, environmental justice, and international human rights, among others. A committee comprised of members of the Vermont Law Review Vol. 44 and Vol. 45 Senior Editorial Boards will anonymously choose one submission to be the Ballenger/Green Memorial Paper.


Andrew’s goal is for a public interest environmental law litigation career, with a focus on federal public lands and/or climate change. He is equally eager to work in federal Indian law or in the international climate change space.








Clinical Legal Education Association Winners: Sedona Elaine Chavez, Lauren Wustenburg, Samuel Ingraham


Awarded for excellence in clinical fieldwork based on the high quality of representation provided clients and for exceptionally thoughtful, self-reflective participation in an accompanying seminar, as nominated by the clinical faculty of Vermont Law School.

Sedona will take the Colorado bar exam this July and is currently seeking a job involving sustainable agriculture law and policy.
Samuel will take the Vermont bar this fall, and plans on continuing to help foster thoughtful co-constitution of agricultural and environmental activities in his home state of Vermont through the frame of sustainable business development.

Lauren is a rising 3L. After graduating next year, she plans to work in either government agencies or the private sector on crafting agricultural trade regulations that support sustainable livelihoods for farmers.



Diversity Award: Yasmín Pérez Ortiz
In recognition for inspiring multi-cultural awareness in the Vermont Law School community.

Yasmín’s professional goals are to pass the Washington D.C. Bar and gain enough experience to start litigating in front of the court. She hopes to use her bilingual skills to guarantee Spanish speakers access to the legal system, and mentor Latinx law students.


Marc Mihaly Environmental Leadership Award: Dayna Smith
Awarded for demonstrating leadership in the field of environmental law.


Learned Hand Award for Academic Excellence: Dayna Smith
Endowed by a gift from the late Judge Sterry R. Waterman, this award is the symbol of Vermont Law School’s goal of contribution to the larger community through the pursuit of academic excellence. Each year, it is awarded to the graduate with the highest cumulative average as of the end of the fifth semester as the representative of those who have striven for academic excellence, following Learned Hand’s example.

Dayna has rejoined her husband in Illinois, and expanded her family by adopting a puppy named Winston. After she takes the bar exam, she will be joining the Collins Law Firm in Naperville, Illinois where she will primarily be working on environmental cases.




Shirley Jefferson Perseverance Award: William D. Northrop
Awarded for demonstrating extraordinary tenacity and perseverance in the face of adversity.

William is moving to Anchorage, Alaska in August to spend a year as a judicial clerk in the Anchorage Superior Court.  


President’s Leadership Award: Lewis Grove
In appreciation for outstanding loyalty and devotion to the Vermont Law School community.



Lewis is moving to Waterbury, Vermont, with hopes of practicing in land and wildlife conservation fields.

Maximillian W. Kempner Award: Raynald Carre
Awarded for exemplifying the highest standards of competence, integrity, fair-mindedness, respect and public service.

Raynald begins a term clerkship with the Connecticut state judiciary department as a legal researcher for that state's trial court system.



Lex Pro Urbe Award: Maeve Elizabeth Catherine McDermott
Given to the alumni whose thoughtful interest and energy enriched the school community during their years in residence; who represents the School’s mission by enriching the lives of those in the school community and the communities of the Upper Valley and Vermont at large; who exemplify the school’s values by showing constant respect and kindness to fellow students, faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni; who actively support other students, ensuring a successful and rich experience at Vermont Law School.

After sitting for the bar, Maeve hopes to get a judicial clerkship. She will continue doing legal research through the Climate Law and Governance Initiative on a volunteer basis. She wants to work for an environmental law firm. Eventually, she hopes to assist low-income countries in developing their climate change policies.