VLS Alumni in the News

News from VLS and VLS Alumni

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Greenbelt Initiative to Restore Kabul's Green Spaces

October 13, 2016

Elizabeth Hessami LLM'15 article

"The parks and green space around Kabul had considerable cultural and social importance and provided vital environmental value. Since war first broke out almost four decades ago, however, these areas have been almost completely degraded or destroyed. This year, a new initiative promises to bring some of it back," wrote Elizabeth Hessami LLM'15 in the article she published in March 2016 on The New Security Beat blog. Read the full article "Kabul Greenbelt Project Aims to Restore Some Luster to War-Ravaged Capital – and Resilience Too."







Third Annual Alumni in Energy Symposium

System Optimization: the Role of Decentralization

October 6, 2016

VLS Alumni in EnergyThe 2016 Vermont Law School Alumni in Energy Symposium will explore the current critical technological and regulatory policy designs that are helping—and hindering—a decentralized grid structure, both in the U.S. and internationally. For more information and to register click here: connect.vermontlaw.edu/networks/affinity/energy.



Teaching from the Hot Seat

August 29, 2016

Professor Jennifer TaubVermont Law School professor Jennifer Taub wasn’t sure what to expect from her first time testifying at a congressional subcommittee hearing in May.

But she didn’t think she’d feel like a law student again. And she didn’t anticipate that the experience would impact her teaching style. 

There was only a week to review the hearing issues, prepare a five-minute opening statement and anticipate questions. On the big day, Taub had to stay composed while waiting for the hearing that started more than an hour late. And once underway, she had to make her points on the spot and quickly.

In a room with bright, hot lights. On camera.  

The hearing was certainly not as grueling as Hillary Clinton’s grilling before the House Select Committee on Benghazi last year. But it was akin to two hours of cold-calling—questioning students on the spot and expecting quick replies—in a VLS class. This time, Taub was on the other side of the questions.

“I realized what it felt to be in the hot seat, which I hadn’t felt since I was a law student myself,” she says. “When you’re the one asking questions, you forget what it’s like to be on the other side.”

Taub was the sole witness Democrats invited to discuss three Republican measures before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services. The proposals dealt with capital formation, transparency and regulatory accountability.

A VLS professor since 2011, Taub teaches courses on contracts, corporations, securities regulation and white-collar crime. 

A YouTube video clip of the hearing shows a poised Taub articulately fielding questions.

“I thought these were bad proposals, and my job was to explain why,” says Taub, whose final preparation for the hearing was to blast songs from the Broadway musical “Hamilton” in her hotel room. After the hearing, a subcommittee member congratulated her “assertive but polite” testimony.

“I thought it was really energizing. You have to think strategically,” says Taub, who was cut off once by a subcommittee member in her replies.

Since the hearing, she has thought strategically about taking a different approach to teaching.

“It will help me provide guidance to students about how to maintain dignity and professionalism even if you’re in the hot seat. I already do this, but I’m going to emphasize it more,” she says.

“I’m also going to give students a lot more time to answer questions,” Taub says. “I’m going to give them space instead of cutting them off, so they can formulate what they want to say.”

The hearing was informative in another way, too. “I didn’t expect to learn something about how I teach and approach the classroom. I’m glad to learn those lessons because I like to think that what professors do for research and service helps improve our teaching,” she says.

In June, Taub testified again, at a hearing on bank capital liquidity before a Senate banking committee.Then, one of the senators who questioned her was Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, one of Taub’s professors at Harvard Law School.

“I felt nervous because I remembered being her student. That added to the pressure,” Taub says. “There is my professor calling on me again… It’s still scary to be asked questions by her.” 

Politics is not new to Taub, a registered Democrat. Her mother, a Republican, was a Michigan state representative and is now a county commissioner.

“Even though she’s a staunch Republican,” Taub says, “she wanted everyone at the hearings to be nice to me.”

Photo caption: Professor Jennifer Taub shakes hands with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, before the Senate Banking Committee in a hearing on bank liquidity and capital requirements , June 2016. Photo credit: Jay Mallin.

A Message about the Strategic Plan from Vice-Dean of Faculty David Mears

June 16, 2016

David Mears, Vice-Dean of Faculty

Dear Vermont Law School Community,

I am excited to share the 2016 Vermont Law School Strategic Plan, “A Transformed Educational Experience,” linked here.

This plan is the outcome of a significant commitment of time and effort by many of you across our community. Thank you to all of you who participated for your thoughtful engagement, your ideas and suggestions, and for your patience. A special thank you to departing Vice-Dean of Faculty Jackie Gardina and the members of the Strategic Planning Committee for their hard work.

In the coming months, Dean Mihaly and I will work with staff and faculty to implement the objectives outlined in the strategic plan. Stay tuned for future updates as we work to turn this document from a plan into action.


David K. Mears JD'91
Vice-Dean of Faculty, Vermont Law School


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