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News Release

NOAA General Counsel Schiffer to Deliver Vermont Law School Commencement Address; Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Archambault, VT Supreme Court Justice Dooley to Receive Honorary Degrees

Monday, April 24, 2017


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) General Counsel Lois J. Schiffer will receive a Vermont Law School honorary degree and deliver the 42nd VLS Commencement address on Saturday, May 20. In addition to honoring Schiffer, VLS will confer honorary degrees upon Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council Chairman Dave Archambault II and Vermont Supreme Court Justice John A. Dooley.

"I am pleased to announce the 2017 Vermont Law School honorary degree recipients and commencement speaker, all of whom are an inspiration to our students, faculty, and staff," VLS President and Dean Marc Mihaly said. "Lois Schiffer has a long and distinguished career as one of the United States' foremost environmental lawyers. Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault's work to protect the lands and natural resources of his tribe has energized advocates around the world. And recently retired Justice John Dooley's service to Vermont spans three decades and includes decisions on landmark cases before the Supreme Court. We hope our Vermont neighbors will join us as welcome these leaders to South Royalton and celebrate the Class of 2017."

Schiffer oversees legal issues relating to management of the nation's marine fisheries, protection of marine mammals, threatened and endangered species, and coastal zone management, as well as the monitoring of oceanic, atmospheric, and climate data. Previously she served as general counsel to National Public Radio, chief counsel to the National Capital Planning Commission, and worked for the Audubon Society. Schiffer was the top environmental lawyer in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) under President Bill Clinton. She received the Edmund J. Randolph Award for outstanding service at the DOJ. Schiffer, who teaches environmental law at Georgetown University Law Center, earned her undergraduate degree from Radcliffe College and her juris doctor (JD) from Harvard Law School.

Archambault is the 45th chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He emerged as a global leader for indigenous peoples' rights while leading a struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and continues to be a voice for tribal sovereignty in championing protection of tribal treaty lands and natural resources. As the tribe's top elected official, Archambault seeks to find innovative ways to improve the governance of the tribe and the lives of its people. In 2014, he hosted the historic visit of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to the Standing Rock Reservation. The visit included a meeting with Standing Rock youth, who told of the challenges they face growing up on the reservation and their aspirations for the future. Prior to serving as chairman, Archambault worked for United Tribes Technical College, directing a project that focused on workforce development in Indian Country. He earned an associate degree from Sitting Bull College, a bachelor's degree from North Dakota State University, and a master's degree from the University of Mary.

Dooley served for 30 years on the Vermont Supreme Court, ruling on landmark cases on issues ranging from school funding to civil unions for same-sex couples. He was appointed an associate justice of the Vermont Supreme Court on June 12, 1987. He previously served as Vermont secretary of administration, law clerk to federal judge Bernard Joseph Leddy, deputy director and later director of Vermont Legal Aid, United States magistrate judge, and legal counsel to former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin. He is a leader of the Russian-American Rule of Law Consortium, treasurer of the Institute for Sustainable Communities, and former president of the Vermont Bar Association. He earned a bachelor's degree from Union College and a law degree from Boston College Law School.

The 42nd Commencement Ceremonies at Vermont Law School will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20, on the South Royalton Village Green. Candidates will be presented for JD, master of laws (LLM), and master's degrees. In addition to participating in commencement, Archambault will deliver an Honorary Degree Lecture at 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 19, in Oakes Hall on the VLS campus. The lecture is open to the public and press.

For more information about commencement activities, visit​.


Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, is home to the nation's largest and deepest environmental law program. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; three Master's Degrees—Master of Environmental Law and Policy, Master of Energy Regulation and Law, and Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy; and four post-JD degrees —LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, LLM in Environmental Law, and LLM in Food and Agriculture Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, South Royalton Legal Clinic, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Energy Clinic, Food and Agriculture Clinic, and Center for Applied Human Rights. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.​