40th Anniversary Celebration of the Environmental Law Center

// Tribute to Richard Brooks, Founding Director 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Homecoming and 42nd Reunion Weekend

3:00 - 5:00 p.m. / Chase Center, Vermont Law School

A Message from David Mears

Director, Environmental Law Center

After forty years of working at the leading edge of training environmental law and policy professionals, Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center has turned its attention to the vital challenge of preparing the next generation of leaders, advocates and problem-solvers for the future. Since training our graduates to implement the environmental laws and policies passed in the first decades of the environmental movement, we have much to celebrate. Many of our streams, rivers, ponds and lakes have recovered. The air is cleaner. A number of once endangered species are thriving. Businesses are increasingly sophisticated in making decisions that result in greater sustainability. Vermont Law School-trained professionals have played a major role in these successes, representing all sectors and levels of government.

We know, however, that the nature of our graduates’ work must adapt and that they must accelerate the pace of change in order to effectively respond to the massive challenges facing our communities, the nation and the world. In this fortieth anniversary year since Professor Richard Brooks and his colleagues founded the Environmental Law Center, our graduates are facing the most daunting environmental issues in recorded history, and it is clear that our current system of laws and policies are not up to the task. The field of environmental law and policy is at an inflection point. If we ever needed reminding about Barry Commoner’s first law of ecology— that everything is connected to everything else— the widespread impacts of global climate disruption are daily demonstrating the intricate and fundamental connections that exist between the ecological health of our planet and the existence of our civilization.

For these reasons, we are convening our past Environmental Law Center Directors as nationally recognized experts in environmental law and policy to discuss the related questions of (1) how should environmental law and policy adapt to meet the challenges facing us today, and (2) how should Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center adapt to prepare our graduates implement those changes? Please join us for what will be a fascinating, and critical discussion of the future of the Environmental Law Center, and of our law school’s ability to live up to our motto of training our students to practice law for the community and the world— Lex pro urbe et orbe.



Thomas McHenry, President and Dean


  • Richard Brooks, Professor Emeritus; founding director of the Environmental Law Center (ELC) (Attendance TBD)
  • Jonathan Lash, President, Hampshire College (Attendance TBD)
  • Pat Parenteau, Professor of Law and Senior Counsel in the Environmental and Natural Resources Clinic, Vermont Law School
  • Karin Sheldon, Professor, Colorado Law; President, Four Echoes Strategies
  • Marc Mihaly, Professor, ELC; former president and dean of VLS
  • Melissa Scanlan, Professor, Vermont Law School; Co-Founder and Director, New Economy Law Center, Vermont Law School
  • John Echeverria, Professor, ELC
  • David Mears JD/MSL'91, Director, ELC


 Forty Years of History 


>> Take a look at the interactive timeline of the Environmental Law Center, celebrating its forty years of history.


 Share a Tribute 


>> Click here to share a tribute to Professor Richard Brooks and the work of the Environmental Law Center.


Richard Brooks
Richard Brooks, Founding Director, ELC



The Rachel L. Carson Scholarship

As a top institution in producing environmental leaders and problem-solvers, it’s fitting that a new Vermont Law School scholarship pays tribute to a pioneer in conservation and public health issues. Named after marine biologist and writer best know for such nonfiction books as "Silent Spring," the Rachel L. Carson Scholarship will award more than $10,000 annually to students with demonstrated financial need who are committed to practicing environmental law. The award is aimed at underserved populations, particularly people of color, to expand opportunities in tacking environmental issues. The first award will be given to a member of the 2019 entering class.

 >> Make a Gift to the Rachel L. Carson Scholarship

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