Laurie Ristino


Laurie Ristino is the inaugural director of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School and an associate professor of law. She also serves as the faculty advisor to the student Food and Agriculture Law Society.

Professor Ristino is a legal and policy expert on food security, the farm bill conservation title, ecosystem services, and private lands conservation. Her work is concerned with reforming existing law and policy and developing new policy innovations to address climate change, social injustice, and improve environmental and economic sustainability. Professor Ristino has written law review articles proposing farm bill reforms to address soil and water quality degradation. She is the co-author and editor of a comprehensive book on conservation easements, titled A Changing Landscape: The Conservation Reader (2016, Environmental Law Institute).

She began her career as an attorney at the USDA during the George H.W. Bush Administration. She continued to serve until President Obama’s second term as a senior counsel and in various administrative leadership roles. Her public service deeply informs her scholarship, advocacy, and teaching, which is committed to practical innovation in service to people and the planet. Examples of the project work at the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems reflect these principles and include Blueprint for a National Food Strategy (, the Healthy Food Policy Project (, and the National Gleaning Project (

She has served in various leadership roles, including editor and columnist for the American Bar Association’s Natural Resources and Environment magazine; Vice Chair of the Government and Private Sector Innovation Committee, American Bar Association; Section Leader, Section of Food and Agriculture Law, American Association of Law Schools; and Steering Committee, University of Vermont Food Systems.

Professor Ristino is a Member Scholar with the Center for Progressive Reform and a Senior Fellow with the New Economy Law Center at Vermont Law School.



​Losing Ground: A Clarion Call for Farm Bill Reform to Ensure a Food Secure Future, Columbia Journal of Environmental Law (2016).

​It’s Come To This. Natural Resources & Environment, Summer 2015, American Bar Association.​

​​​It’s Come to This. Natural Resources & Environment, Summer 2015, American Bar Association

​Second Thoughts, Natural Resources & Environment, Vol. 28, No. 3, Winter 2014, American Bar Association.

​This Could Kill You. Natural Resources & Environment, Vol. 28, No. 4, Spring 2014, American Bar Association.

My Generation, Baby, NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT Vol. 27, No. 3, Winter 2013, American Bar Association.

Chez Pére Lachaise, NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT, Vol. 28, No. 2, Fall 2013, American Bar Association.

The Age of Disruption, NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT Vol. 28, No. 1, Summer 2013, American Bar Association.

“Lean in” Real-Time, NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT Vol. 27, No. 4, Spring 2013, American Bar Association.​

In Support of Practical Legal Scholarship, NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT Vol. 27, No. 4, Spring 2013, American Bar Association.
The New Environmental Lawyer, NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT Vol. 27, No. 2, Fall 2012, American Bar Association.
Steve Jobs, NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT Vol. 27, No. 1, Summer 2012, American Bar Association.
Conservation Easements in an Ecosystem Services Age, NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT, Vol. 24, No.3, Winter 2010, American Bar Association.


Carbon Offset Projects on Public Lands and the Role of Federal Resources in Climate Change Mitigation, CLIMATE CHANGE, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, AND ECOSYSTEMS COMMITTEE NEWSLETTER, December 2007, American Bar Association.
Climate Change Mitigation: Using Ecosystem Services to Pay for Conservation on Private Lands, CLIMATE CHANGE, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, AND ECOSYSTEMS COMMITTEE NEWSLETTER, August 2007, American Bar Association.


Presenter, “Legal & Policy Tools for Dairy in a Changing Climate,” Section on Agriculture & Food Law, AALS, January 3, 2018.

​Panelist, Environmental Law Institute’s event Conservation Easements in a Changing Climate on May 17, 2017.

​​Moderator, Food: What's Law Got To Do With It? A lot., Food and Agriculture Law Society and Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, Vermont Law School, South Royalton, VT, March 16, 2016. ​​

​Presenter, "Agricultural and Food Law, Environmental Law, and Natural Resources and Energy Law Joint Program", AALS Annual Meeting, January 8, 2016.

​Moderator, The Lake Champlain TMDL, TMDLs 2.0, Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, Vermont Law School, South Royalton, VT, October 23, 2015. ​​

​Panelist, “Food, Agriculture, and Drought: Implications of water supply scarcity on food production and policy solutions at the federal, state and local levels,” Drought in the American West Symposium, Eugene, OR, September 25, 2015.

​Panelist, “Help Wanted: Growing Leaders for the Food Movement,” Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders Forum, Chicago, IL, June 25th, 2015.

Moderator and opening remarks, “Biophysical Constraints Panel,” University of Vermont, Vermont Law School Right to Food Summit, June 16-17, 2015.

​Panelist, "Climate Change and Food Security" Agriculture and Food Law Section, AALS Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, January 3, 2015.

​Panel presentation, Sustainability and Health, Association of American Law Schools, January 2014.
​Presenter, A Legal Framework for the New Food Movement, Frontiers in Food and Agriculture Webinar Series, Yale University, November, 2013.
​Moderator, Food Security as National Security: The Future of Food in the Face of Climate Change, Vermont Journal of Environmental Law Symposium, October 2013.​
​Keynote and panel presentations, Future of Food Law and Policy, Yale Food Systems Symposium, October 2013.

​Moderator, Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship, Vermont Law School, October 2013.​

​Presenter, The Method(s) Behind Our Madness, Faculty Speaker Series, Vermont Law School, September 2013.

Awards & Accomplishments


Member, Federal Senior Executive Service, September 2012

Member, Pennsylvania Bar

Member, American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy, & Resources

Associate Member, Environmental Law Institute

Member, American Agricultural Law Association