The curriculum for the JD/LLM joint degree program combines the curriculum for the JD degree and the curriculum for the LLM degree—with the important difference that students can count nine JD credits toward the LLM degree. Students must finish all of the JD requirements before beginning the LLM degree program. However, with the nine JD credits toward the LLM degree, students can complete the LLM in only two additional semesters, rather than three. Joint degree students typically finish JD coursework in May of the third year, and then spend the following summer and fall earning the LLM degree.
The JD curriculum includes a first-year foundation in basic legal subjects as well as techniques of legal analysis; the second and third years of the JD program mostly consist of elective courses and subjects covered on the bar exam. The LLM curriculum includes four required courses (Energy Law and Policy in a Carbon-Constrained World, Energy Regulation, Markets and the Environment, Administrative Law, and LLM Graduate Seminar), an independent research, writing, or externship requirement, and the opportunity to take a wide array of energy and environmental law electives.
One-on-one academic advising is available to help students choose courses, identify valuable experiential opportunities, and otherwise take advantage of the extensive environmental program at VLS.
An important feature of the JD/LLM in Energy Law program is the opportunity to spend the Summer Session at Vermont Law School studying energy law and policy and participating in a community of fellow students and scholars exploring the cutting edge in the energy field. The summer faculty, including regular VLS faculty, scholars from other law schools and other nations, public interest advocates, experienced government attorneys and lawyers from private practice, teach approximately 35 courses in five two- or three-week terms between early June and early August. Each term normally includes at least one specialized course in energy law and policy.
Students typically spend three hours in the classroom four days a week, leaving ample time to enjoy the considerable outdoor recreational opportunities in the Green Mountain State, such as tubing down the White River, hiking the Long Trail, or enjoying a leisurely meal in South Royalton or any of the many other picturesque villages surrounding the law school.
The law school also hosts a Distinguished Summer Scholar in Energy Law and Policy, along with Distinguished Scholars in Environmental Law, Agriculture and Food, and International Law. All these scholars are available to meet with students during their two week residencies. In addition, the summer faculty, the Distinguished Summer Scholars, VLS Media Fellows, and other visitors offer several lunchtime "Hot Topics" lectures each week over the course of the summer term.
The full, current list of environmental and energy courses is available here: Environmental Law Courses by Subject Area (.pdf)
JD/LLM students may obtain valuable, hands-on work experience through externships. Students may pursue an LLM externship for academic credit, either on a part-time basis with one of Vermont's many energy organizations and agencies while continuing to take classes on campus, or full time for a semester after completing their coursework at VLS. Visit the Master's Externships page for more information.
JD/LLM students also may participate in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic to develop skills in environmental litigation, administrative procedures, and client counseling, or serve as a Research Associate in the Institute for Energy for the Environment. The IEE is a public policy consulting institute-committed to delivering vital services for clients around the world. In addition, JD/LLMs can take advantage of the full range of other experiential programs offered to JD students, including the JD Semester in Practice or Judicial Externship programs. All of these experiential learning opportunities help ensure that JD/LLM graduates are prepared the first day on the job.