Located in the town of South Royalton, Vermont Law School (Vermont Law) was founded in 1972 and quickly built a reputation as one of the top environmental law schools in the country. The private, independent law school sits on the banks of the White River in central Vermont in a LEED-certified building that incorporates the latest technology in an environmentally sustainable building. The law school has also built a reputation as being a progressive center and a leader in progressive legal education. The faculty at Vermont Law includes leaders in environmental policy on the state and national levels. Its alumni have become justices of the Vermont Supreme Court, state representatives, and leaders in environmental policy.
Vermont Law offers a variety of programs to earn a Juris Doctor degree. Students can earn their J.D. either through a standard three-year program, a part-time program, an accelerated program, or a unique hybrid program that combines online and residential coursework to earn the degree. All programs require 87 hours of coursework. Of these hours, there are 41 hours of foundational courses including traditional courses such as civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Vermont Law also requires students to complete courses in evidence, legislation and regulation, and professional responsibility. Coupled with these core academic courses are a wide range of practical skill-based courses that begin teaching students the skills necessary to practice law. All J.D. candidates are required to complete at least two additional courses from a select pool of foundational courses, complete two courses from a selection of experiential education courses, and a seminar course that includes a substantial writing component.
Aside from the required coursework, Vermont Law offers students a number of specializations that suggest coursework and experiential programs to help students prepare for their professional careers. Six of these specializations stem from Vermont Law’s nationally renowned environmental law program. The specializations drill down further to allow students to specialize in important fields such as energy policy or climate change.
Vermont Law’s reduced residency program allows students to complete 59 of their 86 credit hours on campus while completing the rest through online programs. This provides tremendous flexibility for students who have additional responsibilities outside of their academic careers. Students also leverage summer courses and a semester in practice program to build the skills required to practice law. For the most part, students in the reduced residency program may participate in all programs offered to full-time J.D. candidates although there are some limited exceptions.
The accelerated Juris Doctor program allows students to complete their degree in less time in order to save money on living expenses and begin their professional careers sooner. Students utilize summer courses to complete the J.D. requirements in less time.
Vermont Law offers a number of additional degree programs for both lawyers and non-lawyers. For students who have already earned their law degree, Vermont Law offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree in four different concentrations. All LL.M programs require 24 hours of coursework that is traditionally completed in 12 months of residential coursework. For lawyers who earned their degree outside the U.S., Vermont Law offers an LL.M concentration in American Legal studies. The school also offers three LL.M concentrations related to its renowned environmental program.
For non-lawyers or lawyers, Vermont Law offers a Master program with four different concentrations touching on a number of environmental issues as well as a program in restorative justice. The Master program is designed to either introduce non-lawyers to core concepts in various specialization areas or compliments a Juris Doctor degree. All programs require 30 hours of coursework for completion and can be completed in 12 months of residential coursework or in 18 months through online courses.
Juris Doctor candidates at Vermont Law may also pursue a number of joint or dual degree programs. All of Vermont Law’s LL.M programs and Masters programs may be combined with the school’s J.D. degree to help students bolster their academic training and career options. Additionally, J.D. candidates may pursue a dual degree through Vermont Law’s unique partnership with a number of excellent regional and international colleges and universities. Vermont Law offers dual degrees with both Yale University and Vermont University as well as international schools such as the University of Cambridge.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment outcome data, over 77% of Vermont Law graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation. Of those employed, almost 94% are employed in careers that either requires a law license or prefer a Juris Doctor candidate. Unlike most law schools, only a quarter of graduates of Vermont Law opt for traditional law firm work. The two most common career paths include judicial clerkships (30%) and positions in government or public interest jobs (32%). Just under 12% of employed graduates opt for careers in the business industry. Only 20% of graduates remain in Vermont to begin their professional careers with many headed to New York and New Jersey as well.
Every law student at Vermont Law is assigned a personal career counselor who works with them through their entire academic careers as they prepare and transition to their professional careers. Counselors work with students to plan their academic course loads in their later years as well as suggest various experiential programs that prepare them for their careers. The Career Planning office provides year-round career-related programming as well as administering the school’s on-campus interview program. Vermont Law also hosts a career fair each year that features employers from Washington, D.C.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
At Vermont Law, all students are required to complete at least two clinical or externship courses in order to ensure they are ready to practice law. The law school’s clinical program offers four practice areas that all stem from the school’s excellent environmental law program. Students work with real clients on issues touching on energy law, environmental law, environmental justice, and food and agricultural law. The clinics are supervised by practicing attorneys who offer students critical feedback and advice as they learn to advocate and represent their clients.
As an alternative to the clinical program, Vermont Law students may also work in an external field placement as part of the school’s externship program. Students can spend a semester in the practice of law in a regional legal office including a variety of practice areas. Students may also spend their externship in a judicial office or a part-time externship.
Although most of Vermont Law’s degree programs require some residential coursework, the school does offer a number of online options for its Juris Doctor program as well as its LL.M and Masters programs.
Vermont Law school is fun. The law school prides itself on blending its challenging academic programs with a campus that recreates in the vibrant community that surrounds it. Students run two academic journals and a number of clubs. A typical day at Vermont Law combines lobbying at the state legislature, a game of ultimate frisbee, and late-night study sessions at the law school library. The school’s commitment to environmental issues is seen in the variety of student organizations and pro bono efforts. This commitment also serves the local community which is surrounded by the beautiful but emotionally fragile White and Green Mountains.
Vermont Law is located in the small town of Royalton–a notably rural and beautiful setting. Housing is still readily available in the areas as Dartmouth College is only 25 minutes away. The town is surrounded by the stunning mountains of New England. During the winter, some of the regions best ski resorts are just a few minutes from campus. Royalton offers students a quaint experience while nearby Hanover offer more amenities. The city of Boston is just two hours away. In all, Vermont’s unique setting offers students a tremendous quality of life.