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News Release

Jennifer Rushlow to Lead Nation’s Top Environmental Law Program

Tuesday, August 7, 2018


As new Director of the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School, a powerful advocate brings experience in climate law, food and ag, clean energy, transportation, and environmental justice.

Accomplished attorney and environmental advocate Jennifer Rushlow will direct Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center, the touchstone of the law school’s top ranked environmental law program, Vermont Law School President and Dean Tom McHenry announced Monday.

Jennifer Rushlow

Rushlow will be transitioning from the Conservation Law Foundation, where she was a Senior Attorney and Director of Farm & Food, leading CLF’s New England-wide advocacy on agriculture and food issues.

“We are delighted to welcome Jennifer Rushlow to VLS – she joins a distinguished and committed group of scholars, advocates, and teachers who have held this position over the past 40 years,” said McHenry. “I am excited about working with Jenny to carry the legacy of the ELC forward and strengthen our focus on the most important environmental law and policy issues, while training the changemaking lawyers and advocates of tomorrow.”

“Vermont Law School’s commitment to shaping tomorrow’s leaders of environmental law is unwavering, and training these leaders is more important now than ever,” said Rushlow.

Rushlow is an experienced litigator, a creative developer of impactful projects, and a passionate and effective advocate for equity and justice.

In 2016, Rushlow argued and won a landmark climate law case before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Kain v. Department of Environmental Protection, 474 Mass. 278 (2016). She was named a 2016 Lawyer of the Year by Mass Lawyers Weekly for her work on the case.

Rushlow also developed and led CLF’s Legal Food Hub, a free legal services clearinghouse for farmers and food businesses, which has established strong partnerships with schools in New England, including Yale Law School.

Rushlow has also worked on clean transportation and electric vehicle policy, renewable energy policy, and land use issues. She has taught a food policy course in Vermont Law’s summer session.

“Jennifer’s background and expertise overlaps so well with Vermont Law School’s core environmental programs and concerns—climate, food and agriculture, energy, and environmental and social justice—and her practical experience is ideal for our students as we expand our focus on experiential learning,” said McHenry. 

Rushlow has worked on clean energy, food and agriculture, transportation, and climate, although environmental justice is her truest passion and “the reason I became an environmental lawyer.”

Jenny will bring to her students and the VLS program a keen and practical sense of the most urgent challenges in energy and environmental law, and a passionate appreciation for how those challenges impact social justice,” said Bradley Campbell, President of the Conservation Law Foundation. “VLS has made a superb appointment, one that honors the leadership of so many VLS alumni who are advancing public health and environmental protection in Vermont and around the world.”

“As each day brings more troubling news of increasing social inequity and of the plundering of our bedrock environmental laws, it’s clear we need a new generation of environmental leaders,” said Rushlow. The students of Vermont Law School think freely and bring a passion to do good in their careers. This drive to make a difference is powerful; we all do our best work when we’re doing it because we care. These students make me hopeful for the future.” 

Rushlow holds a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, a Master’s in Public Health from Tufts University School of Medicine, and a B.A. from Oberlin College. She will start at VLS on September 10th.

VLS established the Environmental Law Center in 1978 and offers more than 60 courses related to the environment and environmental law, more than any other law school in the United States. The school’s environmental clinics include the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Energy Clinic, and Food and Agriculture Clinic. The VLS Summer Session, which this year offered 34 classes taught by 39 faculty members, attracts scholars, lawyers, journalists, and environmental advocates from around the world. U.S. News & World Report ranks VLS No. 1 in the nation for environmental law in its “Best Law Schools for 2018.” In the last 27 years, VLS has ranked No. 1 in environmental law 19 times and No. 2 eight times.

For more information about environmental programs at Vermont Law School, including degrees and clinical training, visit the Environmental Law Center online at


More comments about Jennifer Rushlow joining the ELC:

Marc Mihaly, former Director of the Environmental Law Center and former President and Dean of Vermont Law School

"I am delighted to learn that Jenny Rushlow will be taking the directorship of the Environmental Law Center at VLS. I served as the Center’s Director for five years, and I know that Jenny’s leadership will ensure that the center maintains its position on the forefront of environmental law and policy. The depth and extent of her programmatic initiative at the Conservation Law Foundation ensure that that Jenny will bring both practical skills and an innovative mind to the VLS leading environmental program and extensive curriculum. Vermont Law School students will be lucky to learn from--and train with--such a wonderful mentor and advocate."


Gina Coplon-Newfield, Director, Clean Transportation for All, Sierra Club

"I had the good fortune of collaborating with Jenny Rushlow on advocacy for successful electric vehicle policy in New England, and of course, most in the Northeast environmental community know of Jenny's leadership, policy wins, and lawsuit victories on transportation, farm, and broader climate issues. With a number of them on our staff, we at Sierra Club know first-hand how Vermont Law School students can go on to secure environmental legal victories. The addition of of someone as smart, experienced, and likable as Jenny Rushlow to the helm of the school's Environmental Law Center will only strengthen this great institution's ability to prepare young lawyers to defend our planet and the people who inhabit it."


Emily Broad Lieb, Director of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic; Deputy Director of the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation; Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

“Vermont Law School is lucky to have Jenny Rushlow leading its renowned program and bringing her vision, creativity, and leadership to the institution. Among her many creative projects that use the law to tackle environmental and justice challenges, her launch of the Legal Services Food Hub really stands out. The project was an instant success throughout New England, as it fills a major need for legal assistance to farmers and food businesses in the local and regional food system. 

While at CLF, Jenny mentored countless law students and recent graduates—including my students here at Harvard Law School—and I know of many who call her both a great supervisor and an inspirational role model.  I have no doubt she will have a seamless transition to academia and many more students will have the opportunity to benefit from her expertise and mentorship.

Jenny has been a superb partner to us the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, as she has to many other law schools in the region, and I’m eager to continue to collaborate with her, and further build our existing relationships with the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at VLS.”


David Wirth, Professor of Law, Boston College Law School

"Having had the privilege to teach in the VLS summer program for more than 25 years, I was delighted to hear of Jenny's appointment as Director of the Environmental Law Center.  From working with Jenny at the Conservation Law Foundation, I can see firsthand the dynamism and creativity she will bring to the VLS's critical mission at this important moment."


Anthony Iarrapino, Alumni, Vermont Law School

“Jenny Rushlow is exactly the kind of well-rounded leader who can help build upon the outstanding legacy of VLS’s Environmental Law Center. When we worked together at Conservation Law Foundation, I had the pleasure of seeing Jenny tackle precedent-setting environmental justice litigation while also implementing programmatic expansion into food and agriculture law. I have also seen her shine in the classroom where I was a guest lecturer in her popular VLS summer program class. As a VLS alum and Leadership Circle donor, I feel confident that the already talent-rich ELC is in good hands with Jenny at the helm.”


Nico Lustig, Student, Vermont Law School

“By welcoming Jenny Rushlow as the new Environmental Law Center Director, VLS is entering an exciting new era for the school and environmental law. I worked with Jenny on drafting the Massachusetts Food System Plan, and then during the creation of the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative. Jenny is a very impressive lawyer and a thoughtful teammate. Jenny is steadfast in her commitment to protecting the environment for the sake of the environment, people, and the world. Jenny has the essential environmental and community-minded values that will make her a great leader for the Environmental Law Center.

We should all look forward to an innovative next phase of the ELC. I expect that with Jenny’s influence we will see a deepening connection between VLS and environmental justice.”


Gordon Merrick, Student, Vermont Law School

“It will be incredible for students to have an ELC director that has worked at the City, State, and federal level in both litigation and policy work. The arrival of Jenny Rushlow to lead the ELC helps solidify our status of the best environmental law program in the nation, due to her incredibly broad and effective work history, as well as her philosophy on environmental issues. Director Rushlow perfectly represents the incredible diversity of interests we have at VLS, from food and energy policy, to ground-breaking climate change litigation.”