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VLS Inaugurates New President and Dean Marc Mihaly

October 29, 2012

At his inauguration Friday, Vermont Law School President and Dean Marc Mihaly pledged to continue VLS's tradition of teaching leadership, knowledge and morality, but also to expand its efforts to combine school and work, to offer diverse graduate degrees and to internationalize, so that students are better prepared to succeed in a rapidly changing legal landscape.Image of Marc Mihaly

In an address titled "In a New World of Legal Education" delivered to a large audience on the South Royalton Green, Mihaly said technology and markets are changing forever the face of the practice of law. "The very same technology and markets will force changes in legal education. The current law school paradigm, after over a century, is reaching its end as a didactic and a business model. Accelerated by the recession, the demands for change are upon us, upon us now."

The new paradigm, Mihaly said, is already being practiced, in part, at VLS.

"What are these seeds of the future? Well, in fact, they're quite familiar precisely because they're part of the present: They are the experiments our faculty tries in class; the simulation exercises in our General Practice Program; they are our externships, the 80 students out working in semesters in practice; they are our clinics, our centers and institutes; and they are our international program, our policy masters degree, our specialized certificates; and, of course, our distance learning program. 

"Are you disappointed, disappointed with my reduction of a grand vision for the graduate educational future to a mundane list of familiar programs and efforts? Well, that's the point--the future is here in front of us, distributed here at VLS. Our task is to look at these innovations not as isolated add-ons to a traditional core, but as early manifestations of a very different future graduate educational order.

"This is our future--combining school with work, diverse graduate degrees and internationalizationOur challenge is one of perception and of determination. We must perceive our early innovations as pieces of the future to be nurtured. We must determine to integrate them into our core and drive them with intentionality. And most of all, we must be leaders in this effort because the more we lead, we take risks and advocate change, the more our present and future students will identify with us, cleave to us and then change the world themselves."

The inauguration was preceded by a panel discussion of the future of legal education and followed by a reception in the Chase Center and Debevoise Hall.

Mihaly, one of the nation's leading environmental law attorneys, was a visiting professor at VLS in 2004-05 and joined the regular faculty in 2005. He served as the acting associate dean of environmental programs and director of the Environmental Law Center in 2005-06 and associate dean and director from 2007-12. An expert in land use, urban planning, and energy law and policy, he co-founded Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger, the nation's largest public interest environmental law firm, in San Francisco in 1980 and served as its managing partner for 17 years.

Read Mihaly's entire address.

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