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Vermont Law School Raises Record $15.3 Million in Capital Campaign

January 26, 2012

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- Vermont Law School has surpassed its goal of $15 million for the Campaign for Vermont Law School, with total gifts and commitments currently totaling $15.3 million.

The funds will support student financial aid, a new Center for Legal Services, programs that improve national environmental and energy policies, and educational initiatives that produce highly skilled lawyers at home and abroad.Image of Center for Legal Services

VLS hopes to raise another $1 million to $2 million before closing the campaign when Dean and President Jeff Shields retires at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

It has been VLS's most successful capital fund drive in its nearly 40-year history, surpassing the $11.3 million raised in 2005 for the renovation of historic Debevoise Hall, the main administration building, and the $6 million raised in 1998 for the construction of Oakes Hall, the main classroom building.

The campaign was launched silently in September 2008 with a gift from trustee Fran Yates that went toward the purchase of the former Freck's department store, a historic building and landmark in downtown South Royalton. The building, which is being renovated according to VLS's standards for stewardship of the environment, will house the law school's clinical programs and become the new Center for Legal Services.

Image of Jeff Shields"This project represents the best of what a Vermont Law School education provides with a focus on the importance of clinical opportunities for students," said Shields. "The Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic (ENRLC) and the South Royalton Legal Clinic (SRLC) have a long history of community service, and this building provides them with a new state-of-the-art home and room to grow."

Building on the generous gift that helped launch the Center for Legal Services project, Dean Shields, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Ed Mattes ‘83 and campaign committee chair and trustee Jimmy Hanson '83 pushed forward with a plan to create robust financial support for core environmental programs and scholarships for VLS students.

"Vermont Law School has some of our country's leading experts in energy policy and environmental law," Dean Shields said. "Our faculty have been asked by President Obama to serve in senior government positions and by our state's leadership to draft legislation that affects the way in which Vermont utilities construct their business models. It's rewarding to see philanthropic support for this work and the students who can carry forward this legacy of leadership.".

Fundraising highlights of the Campaign for Vermont Law School include:

• $9.5 million for VLS's Institute for Energy and the Environment, U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law, ENRLC and SRLC
• $1.3 million for student scholarships and loan repayment assistance programs
• $2 million for the Center for Legal Services
• $1.25 million to launch a new Center for Agriculture and Food Systems

Vermont Law School's alumni include about 6,000 individuals, many of whom work in fields relating to environmental law and energy policy. Founded in 1972, VLS is a private, independent law school that has focused on foundation and government grants in its fundraising efforts to date. At the same time, the Campaign for Vermont Law School has seen more than 2,000 VLS alumni contribute to the effort since 2008, with annual giving totaling more than $1.3 million during this period, which is also a record.

"VLS alumni have committed to this effort in a way they never have before," said Shields. "The law school's programs are in a position of strength today due in large part to their generosity."

Dean Shields and Chairman Mattes will launch the public phase of the campaign at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 26 at the Vermont State House in Montpelier. The media are invited to attend.

VLS officials will discuss the evolving state of legal education and the legal profession. They also will discuss how VLS is adapting to that changing landscape, in part, by emphasizing clinical and experiential programs that prepare its graduates to be skilled litigators, policy analysts, public interest advocates, entrepreneurs and leaders in other areas.

CONTACT: John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations, Vermont Law School
Office: 802.831.1106, cell: 540.798.7099, home: 802.649.2235,

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