Vermont Law School

Vermont Law School
P.O. Box 96
South Royalton, VT 05068

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Matthew Houde
Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs


Category Type

Independent Student Pro Bono Group Projects with no school-wide program


Description of Programs


Location of Programs

Office of Career Services






Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Guardians ad Litem – Guardians ad Litem are appointed by the court to protect and promote the interests of children and mentally incompetent adults who find themselves involved in judicial proceedings. Students may join the Vermont Law School chapter, which provides training, informational meetings, referrals, and opportunities to exchange experiences. Student guardians experience the legal process first-hand while providing a valuable service to the community.

Legal Education & Empowerment Program (L.E.E.P.) – Students of the Legal Education & Empowerment Program at Vermont Law School have committed themselves to bringing legal knowledge to secondary level students in local and regional schools in Vermont.

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund – Animal Law League supports the passage of current Animal Advocacy Group legislation, drafts new legislation, spreads awareness of the plight of animals and provides information useful in improving their situation. Students have also participated in litigation to save animals.

Volunteer Income Tax Association Program (VITA) – The Vermont Law School VITA program provides federal and state tax assistance to elderly, low-income, and disadvantaged taxpayers living in the communities surrounding the law school. Training is provided by the Internal Revenue Service and the Vermont State Tax Department. Designed to meet a community need, the program also gives second- and third-year students the opportunity to develop their skills in interviewing and counseling clients.


Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

While the faculty has not adopted a formal policy regarding an annual expectation of pro bono service, full-time faculty members are expected to provide service to members of the broader community, which can, and often does, include provision of pro bono services - typically in association with affiliated agencies or nonprofit groups.



The Student Bar Association recognizes a student each year for his or her contributions to pro bono/public service at the school.

At the annual Awards Ceremony, Vermont Law School recognizes numerous students for their accomplishments, including the recipient of the National Association of Women Lawyers Award, which is given to a graduate who has contibuted to the advancement of women in society and promotes issues and concerns of women in the legal profession.

The Kempner Award is named after former Vermont Law School Dean Maximilian W. Kempner. Max Kempner holds the profession and its members to the highest standards of competence, integrity, respect, fair mindedness, and public service. The award is given each year to the graduating student who throughout his or her law school career best exemplifies these attributes.

Luncheon and video scroll of all "scholarship", which includes pro bono and/or public interest service.

Vermont Law School recognizes and celebrates students who receive external awards for their public interest efforts, including Schweitzer Fellows and Vermont Campus Compact Award recipients.


Community Service

Habitat for Humanity Spring Break Service Trip.

Big Little Program - students provide mentoring to children in the local community (similar to Big Brother-Big Sister program).

Students for Community OutReach and Education (SCORE) - students host annual college fair for local high schools.

Environmental Law Society's Earth Week Service Project - students organize volunteer event, such as clean-up of White River area.

Student Bar Association sponsorship of Red Cross Blood Drive.

Black Law Student Association food and coat drive.

International Law Society - Lauren Salb & Kim Colburn Legal Text Book Drive for international law students.


Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Abby Armstrong
Director of Career Services
Office of Career Services

Jason Crance
Assistant Director of Career Services
Office of Career Services

Barbara Lernihan


Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Public Interest Centers

Recognizing the critical impact of energy policy on environmental values, Vermont Law School launched America's first law school institute focused on the energy-environment connection in 2005. For more information, see

Land Use Institute - Vermont Law School established the Land Use Institute to address issues of growth and land stewardship, which are central to planning debates in Vermont and across the nation. Established in 2005, the Institute will examine pressing topics facing communities and municipal administrators, including sprawl, "smart growth," and big box stores, through scholarship and courses, public presentations, and the provision of land use expertise to appropriate agencies. For more information, see

Environmental Law Center - Vermont Law School's Environmental Law Center offers one of the top environmental law and policy programs in the country. The mission of the Environmental Law Center is to educate for stewardship and an understanding of underlying environmental issues and values. An environmental professional must understand that sound environmental policy is formed at the intersection of politics, law, science, economics, and ethics.

In the Environmental Law program students explore the ethical basis for environmental policy, develop a knowledge of ecological concepts, and consider both international issues, and standards and processes embodied in U.S. environmental law. Students learn political, cultural, institutional, and scientific mechanisms which shape environmental policy, as well as recognize the role and effects of hazard, risk, and uncertainty in policy development.

Vermont Law School's Environmental Law Center produces graduates who serve as policy analysts, environmental managers, lawyers, and community leaders throughout the world.


Public Interest Clinics

Legislative Clinic – The Legislative Clinic allows students to take advantage of internships in the Vermont General Assembly, where students are assigned to a standing committee of the state legislature. Under the supervision of the committee's chair and a legislative counsel, they complete legal research and draft projects relating to pending legislation

Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic – The Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, building on VLS's expertise in environmental and natural resources law and our extensive connections throughout the local, regional, and national conservation communities, provides student clinicians the opportunity to work on behalf of public interest, environmental, and conservation organizations to provide creative legal assistance on significant environmental problems.

Mediation Field Work – Mediation Field Work offers mediation services to parties involved in a variety of disputes, including landlord-tenant, consumer and neighborhood matters.

South Royalton Legal Clinic – The South Royalton Legal Clinic provides representation to indigent clients in civil matters such as family law, juvenile law and children's rights, Social Security, welfare and unemployment compensation, civil rights and civil liberties, landlord-tenant relations, consumer protection, bankruptcy, contracts, wills, and federally subsidized health care and housing. The Clinic recently has begun to provide some representation in immigration law, as well.



Vermont Law School is committed to offering an integrated curriculum, one that values high quality, traditional academic instruction while expanding student's options through a number of experiential learning situations. In addition to clinical opportunities, Vermont Law School offers both full and part-time internship programs (field placement opportunities).

See for a summary of, and links to, all experiential programs.

  1. The Semester in Practice program is a full-time, individually tailored external clinic, appropriate for students interested in self-directed learning under the supervision of an experienced field-mentor. Field-mentors are experienced lawyers who work with and within: government (state, federal and local), NGO's, non profit organizations, and law firms. Mentors whose practices are located along the Montreal, Quebec and Washington, DC corridor are ordinarily selected, though a limited number of students may enroll in a "distant" Semester in Practice.
  2. Through the Environmental Semester in Washington, students can sharpen their environmental knowledge and legal skills by working full-time under the supervision of a leader in environmental law and policy in Washington, DC. Qualified students are placed with a mentor attorney whose experience and work most closely matches the skills, interests, and aspirations of the student.

    Recent placements include the Congressional Budget Office, House Committee on Resources; Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; the Center for Marine Conservation; Defenders of Wildlife; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Defense Council; EarthJustice; World Wildlife Fund; Department of Justice: Environmental and Natural Resources Division - Appellate, Environmental Crimes, Environmental Enforcement and General Litigation Sections; and the Council on Environmental Quality, Office of Science and Technology Policy, President's Council on Sustainable Development, White House Office on Environmental Policy.

    Both the Semester in Practice and Environmental Semester in Washington are designed to give students interested in an area of substantive law an opportunity to learn that area through work with practitioners specializing or practicing in it; gain expertise in that area through practical experience; and give students an opportunity - through experiential application - to gain familiarity with or mastery of some lawyering skills not otherwise covered in the classroom. Students also participate in classes that focus on professional responsibility and the work of the practicum. In addition to the classroom component, Vermont Law School faculty use meetings, journals, conference calls and e-mails to supervise and instruct students throughout their practicum.

  3. The J.D. Internship Program provides an opportunity for students to obtain field based experience on a part-time basis. The Program internship may be 2-6 credits (though most students opt to do 6 credits, which is 2 full days of on-site work). Students take courses at the same time, so placements are typically within driving distance of the law school. Students work with the Director of J.D. Internships to identify a suitable type of part-time internship, and then the Director and student work together to identify potential mentors and make an internship match.
  4. The Judicial Externship Program is an opportunity for Vermont Law School students to obtain field-based experience in judges' chambers as judicial externs. The Judicial Externship Program is divided into two components: a practicum and an academic component. Judical externship students will complete the Judicial Externship Academic Component, which concentrates on judicial and legal ethics, but also provides instruction on judicial philosophy and history, judicial decision-making and judicial discretion, and judicial opinion writing. The Academic Component is taught at the school on five days throughout the semester, with 6 hours of classroom instruction on each of the days. Students receive 11 non-classroom credits for their practicum and 2 classroom credits for their academic component.
  5. Vermont Law School's Environmental Law Center also offers field placement opportunities, called MSEL Internships (Master of Studies in Environmental Law). An integral part of both the master's and joint JD-MSEL program is gaining real world experience through internships. Our students explore environmental law, science, and policy in a wide variety of settings locally, nationally, and worldwide. Activities may include counseling, drafting regulations and legislation, preparing legal memoranda, drafting or commenting on environmental or land use plans, and fieldwork related to wetlands, endangered species, and other natural resource management and preservation issues. Students design their own internships with the advice and consent of a faculty member. A typical internship earns between two and nine credits. Students have earned credit while working as interns for organizations such as the Natural Resources Conservation Authority, Jamaica, West Indies, the Fund for International Environmental Law and Development, London, England, the Biodiversity Group of Environment Australia, Canberra, Australia, and the Environmental Enforcement Section, Department of Justice, in Washington, D.C., as well as the National Park Service, Boulder, Colorado, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Boston, Massachusetts, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Waterbury, Vermont, and the Environmental Defense Fund, Boulder, Colorado.

Web site:


Classes with a Public Service Component


Public Interest Journals

Vermont Journal of Environmental Law --


PI Career Support Center

There is a spring on-campus interview program that focuses on public interest and governmental employers in New Hampshire and Vermont.

We produced and sold The Guide to State Court Judicial Clerkship Procedures which raised approximately $15,000 for summer public interest fellowships.

We featured speakers from the EPA - OGC, DOJ, New York AG's, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, EPA - Region 1, and Vermont Legal Aid (these speakers were different than our panels which also featured a number of speakers from the public interest world).

We held a Judical Clerkships Workshop; a Spring Employers Panel, which featured representatives from non-profits and government agencies in VT and NH discussing interview and application process; an Environmental Non-Profits Panel; an International Human Rights law panel; a Summer Funding Opportunities Workshop; an Alternative Careers Panel, which featured employers from 3 non-profits; and a Public Interest Legal Careers workshop.


Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

For a description see:


Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

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Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:


Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:


Graduate Student Funded


Other Funding Sources:


Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:

The Equal Justice Foundation holds a fundraiser each year to support student public interest work in the summer.


Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

There were a number of "teach ins" and lecture series, offered by faculty and guest speakers, that focused on public interest issues, especially the rights of disadvantaged populations. The Law School sponsored some; some were sponsored by student organizations. Some examples of more recent presentations include: "How Race Affects the Death Penalty"; "Drifting Apart: How Wealth and Race Segregation are Reshaping the American Dream"; "Racial Justice and Free Speech."

Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration

Hot Topics in Environmental Law – Vermont Law School's Environmental Law Center hosts an annual summer brown bag lecture series. The public is invited to attend the free lectures on a variety of environmental issues featuring Vermont Law School's Summer Session faculty and visiting journalism fellows.

Vermont Journal of Environmental Law Symposium – Annual symposium addressing environmental issues.

Vermont Supreme Court – Annual visit by the Court to hear a series of cases at Vermont Law School.

The Norman Williams Distinguished Lectureship Series – A lecture series focused on land use planning and the law, the series honors the legacy of former Vermont Law School Professor Norman Williams Jr., one of the nation's leading authorities on land use. Author of the eight-volume classic American Land Use Planning Law, he had served as chief of the New York City Office of Master Planning and as executive director of the New Jersey Governor's Advisory Commission on Transportation. Working in the 1960s with then-Vermont Governor Philip Hoff, he helped formulate the state's ban on billboards, and he wrote the legislation that is the basis for Vermont's municipal planning and zoning.

The Waterman Lecture – Given annually since 1975, the Waterman Lecture has showcases some of the most prominent thinkers of American law.


Student Public Interest Groups


Asian Pacific Law Students Association

Black Law Students Association

Environmental Law Society

Equal Justice Foundation

Latin American Law Students Association

Law Students for Choice

National Lawyers Guild

Native American Society

Solutions Conference

Women's Law Group