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Posts tagged "vermont law school"

My alma mater

"U.S.News & World Report has ranked Vermont Law School’s environmental law program as the best in the nation for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year. The 2013 Best Grad Schools rankings were released today. VLS also placed among the nation’s top programs for dispute resolution (rank 16th), clinical training (rank 23rd) and law schools where law firms tend to recruit (rank 96th) among America’s 200 law schools.”

Picture I took yesterday at the “Old Home Days” parade, in South Royalton, Vermont. 

I went to Vermont Law School and it was both brutal and exhilarating. VLS is the number one environmental law school in the nation - acceptance is competitive and, er, nasty expensive. But, I learned from some of the best lawyers and professors in the country. I got published, was a delegate to the COP15 in Copenhagen, and met the woman of my dreams. There’s an old joke about lawyers, “99% of lawyers give the profession a bad name.” I was privileged enough to attend with the remaining 1%, the good guys.

I get a lot of questions from budding environmentalists and other readers about going to law school. Should I go? Will I get a job? Can I not be a lawyer?

At the end of the day, I really don’t know. On the one hand, there is a glut of lawyers in the market, becoming an attorney is difficult in a saturated field. So, you have to balance a lowered pay expectation with over $100k in student debt. On the other hand, I cannot think of a more intellectually fulfilling profession that gets shit done. When you win (or lose) a decision, you are shaping legal history. It’s in the books for all posterity. Future cases will hinge on decisions you made while you petitioned the court. To me, this is a deeply profound and tangible contribution to your community and your country (and of course your client, be it fish, fowl, NGO, or man).

But, law school is not for everyone. VLS throws their students into the fire in their first year. Here is glimpse of what we went through:

I might drive up just to see her, maybe shake her hand. My alma mater gets some solid speakers. Last year we had Howard Dean, who basically rehashed his old stump speeches :(. His voice is even more hoarse in person.

This is Patrick Parenteau, professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School. It’s a 4 minute clip on coal showing his intensity. I studied under Pat. What an honor.