Distinguished Scholars

Vermont Law School invites leaders in the fields of environmental, energy, agriculture, and international environmental law to serve as Distinguished Summer Scholars in residency during the VLS Summer Session. Each Distinguished Summer Scholar delivers a public lecture, participates in informal social events on campus, and is available to meet with students individually. These distinguished visitors are a significant intellectual resource for our summer students and also offer valuable networking opportunities.


Applications for the 2020 scholar positions are now closed. Applications are under review and final selections will be announced at the end of November.


2019 Scholars:


Environmental Law Scholar

Richard Lazarus, Howard and Katherine Aibel Professor of Law, Harvard Law School


Richard Lazarus is the Howard and Katherine Aibel Professor of Law at Harvard University, where he teaches environmental law, natural resources Law, Supreme Court advocacy, and torts. Professor Lazarus has represented the United States, state and local governments, and environmental groups in the United States Supreme Court in 40 cases and has presented oral argument in 14 of those cases. His primary areas of legal scholarship are environmental and natural resources law, with particular emphasis on constitutional law and the Supreme Court. He has published two books, The Making of Environmental Law (U. Chicago 2004), and Environmental Law Stories (Aspen Press, co-edited with O. Houck 2005). He was also the principal author of Deep Water - The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling (GPO 2011), which is the Report to the President of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission, for which he served as the Executive Director. The Commission was charged with investigating the root causes of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and recommending changes in law and policy to reduce the risk of future spills and to mitigate their impacts. Prior to joining the Harvard law faculty, Professor Lazarus was the Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., Professor of Law at Georgetown University, where he also founded the Supreme Court Institute. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1979 and has a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in economics from the University of Illinois.

Energy Law Scholar

Joel Eisen, Professor of Law, Austin Owen Research Fellow, University of Richmond School of Law


Professor Joel Eisen teaches and writes in the areas of energy law and policy, environmental law and policy, and federal administrative law. He is a co-author of a law and business school text on energy law, Energy, Economics and the Environment, and numerous books, book chapters, treatises, and law review articles on electric utility regulation and clean and renewable energy topics. His scholarship has appeared in journals at Harvard, UCLA, Duke, Notre Dame, George Washington, Utah, Fordham, Illinois, Wake Forest, U.C. Davis, and William & Mary law schools, among other venues. In recognition of his contributions to scholarship, Richmond Law named him the inaugural Austin Owen Research Fellow for 2013-2018. His article, Residential Renewable Energy: By Whom?, was honored as one of the top four environmental law articles of 2011. He was the University of Richmond’s Distinguished Educator for 2010-2011, and in spring 2009, a Fulbright Professor of Law at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, China. Professor Eisen is a graduate of the Stanford Law School (J.D. 1985) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S. degree in Civil Engineering in 1981). His primary avocation is constructing crossword puzzles; he has had puzzles published in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal.


Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Scholar


Amy Cohen, John C. Elam/Vorys Sater Professor of Law, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Amy J. Cohen is the John C. Elam/Vorys Sater Professor of Law at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law where she brings a range of qualitative and historical research methods to bear on two areas of legal scholarship—alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and law and economic development, including the law and political economy of agriculture and food.  She teaches property, mediation, negotiation, international dispute resolution, law and development, and global food law and policy. At Ohio State, she is also affiliated faculty at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, the Food Innovation Center, and the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation.

Professor Cohen has held visiting professorships at Harvard Law School, Osgoode Hall Law School, the University of Turin, Faculty of Law, and the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. She has held fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the American Institute of Indian Studies at the University of Chicago, the Fulbright Program, and the Collegio Carlo Alberto. She has also been a visiting scholar at the University of New South Wales and Cornell Law School. Before joining the Moritz faculty, she taught at the Kathmandu School of Law in Nepal as a Fulbright scholar, clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, Colorado, and worked on community development initiatives in Ghana, Nepal, and Thailand.


International Environmental Law Scholar

Carmen Gonzalez, Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law


Professor Gonzalez teaches torts, environmental law fundamentals, international environmental law, and international trade law. She has published widely in the areas of international environmental law, environmental justice, human rights and the environment, and food security. A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, she clerked for Judge Thelton E. Henderson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, practiced law at Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, and served as assistant regional counsel at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco, California. 

Professor Gonzalez was a Fulbright Scholar in Argentina, a Visiting Fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, a Visiting Professor at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in Nanjing, China, and a U.S. Supreme Court Fellow. She has taught in Seattle University's summer abroad programs in Brazil and Guatemala (in consortium with other law schools), and has worked on environmental law capacity-building projects in Latin America, Asia, and the former Soviet Union.

Professor Gonzalez is past chair of the Environmental Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of Earthjustice, Deputy Chair of the Governing Board of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Academy of Environmental Law (IUCNAEL), and a member scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform, a non-profit research and educational organization of university-affiliated academics that seeks to inform policy debates regarding environmental regulation. She has served as member and vice-chair of the International Subcommittee of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (an advisory body to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on environmental justice issues), co-chaired the IUCNAEL Research Committee, and represented non-governmental organizations in multilateral environmental treaty negotiations.

Professor Gonzalez has published three books and more than thirty law review articles and book chapters. She is co- editor of the critically acclaimed book, Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia (Utah State University Press, 2012). Her latest book, International Environmental Law and the Global South, was published by Cambridge University Press in September 2015. She was awarded the George Soros Visiting Chair at the Central European University School of Public Policy in Budapest, Hungary for Spring 2017, and served as the Norton Rose Fulbright Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Houston Law Center in Fall 2017.