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South Royalton Legal Clinic Honors Justice Johnson

June 12, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — CONTACT:
Maryellen Apelquist, Director of Media Relations, Vermont Law School
office: 802-831-1228, cell: 802-299-5593, mapelquist@vermontlaw.edu

SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt., June 12, 2014—The South Royalton Legal Clinic (SRLC) at Vermont Law School will host a reception and plaque dedication honoring retired Vermont Supreme Court Associate Justice Denise Johnson from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 18. The event is free and open to the public and press.

SRLC staff and student clinicians, who provide more than a million dollars in free legal services each year to low-income Vermonters, will dedicate their student workroom to Johnson as a lasting tribute to her work on the bench and as a trailblazing lawyer.

“We look forward to honoring Justice Johnson with this dedication,” said Marc Mihaly, president and dean of Vermont Law School, ranked No. 18 in the nation for clinical training. “She is a tireless champion of equality, access to justice, and the rights of the accused—a perfect role model for Vermont Law School students engaged in clinical practice at the South Royalton Legal Clinic.”

Johnson, who was appointed by former Gov. Madeleine Kunin to serve as the state’s first female justice on the Vermont Supreme Court, retired in 2012 after nearly 21 years of service. While serving on the bench, she authored a much-cited opinion in favor of equal rights for gay couples under the Vermont Constitution, helped expand pro bono legal services for low-income Vermonters, and worked to eliminate gender bias in the courts.

“Justice Johnson shaped how Vermonters engage the protection of our laws and built a legacy of fairness and equality,” said Professor of Law James May, director of the South Royalton Legal Clinic. “The dedication of our main student workspace in her honor will remind generations of students of the importance of combining excellence in their professional work with the need to ensure that our legal system is not, as a practical matter, off-bounds for some because of their inability to afford legal representation.”

The dedication is made possible by the Justice Denise Johnson Tribute Committee and generous supporters, who raised $25,000 to create a lasting tribute to Johnson’s work.

The South Royalton Legal Clinic serves residents from several Vermont counties who are unable to afford counsel and who need assistance with issues such as children’s rights, family law, housing, welfare and unemployment, health care, Social Security, consumer protection, bankruptcy, contracts, wills, and statutory civil rights, and provides services statewide for those in need of immigration services. Each year, more than 40 Vermont Law School student clinicians and work-study students at the clinic help to represent clients in 250 court and administrative hearings. For more information about the SRLC, visit www.vermontlaw.edu/SRLC, email smee@vermontlaw.edu or call 802-831-1500.

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Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, has the top-ranked environmental law program and one of the top-ranked clinical training programs in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; two Master’s Degrees (Master of Environmental Law and Policy, and Master of Energy Regulation and Law), and three post-JD degrees—LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, and LLM in Environmental Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, the South Royalton Legal Clinic, and the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. For more information, visit www.vermontlaw.edu, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

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