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Vermont Law Students Provide Ideas, Energy As Non-Voting Board Members on Local Nonprofits

November 12, 2012

SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt. -- In an unusual partnership, Vermont Law School students are serving as non-voting volunteer board advisors to Upper Valley nonprofit groups dealing with social justice, educational, environmental and other community issues.

The VLS Board Fellows program provides the nonprofits with fresh insight, energy and ideas from the students, while the students gain valuable experience in nonprofit management and governance and a deeper understanding of social issues.Image of Betsy Schmidt

Many business schools, including the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, have such programs, but VLS's is one of the few and one of the largest at law schools, said Associate Professor Betsy Schmidt, a nonprofit and social enterprise law expert who directs Vermont Law's Board Fellows program. Business schools also are ahead of law schools in offering nonprofit and social enterprise courses, but VLS currently has about 40 students in a growing number of classes dealing with law and policy issues in the fast growing field.

"Our Board Fellows program improves our relationship with the community and shows that Vermont Law continues to innovate and address market realities," Schmidt said. "Our expansion in this field positions us to be a major player in an emerging and exciting area of the law."

The students attend the organizations' board and committee meetings and complete a project that the board is undertaking. Project examples include helping with strategic plans, grant proposals and annual reports. The students cannot practice law or cast board votes but can discuss governance and other issues. The students spend from one semester to two years in their roles depending on the needs of the nonprofits and the students' schedules.

Currently, 19 students participate as Board Fellows at 11 nonprofits. A new class of Fellows will start in January, and the program will host a "meet and greet" for interested students and nonprofits on Dec. 3 to begin the application process. 

The following students and nonprofit leaders are available to comment:

More information about the Board Fellows program and the upcoming "meet and greet" is available from Professor Schmidt at 802-831-1103 or bschmidt@vermontlaw.edu

CONTACT:   John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations, Vermont Law School

Office: 802-831-1106, cell: 540-798-7099, home: 802-649-2235, jcramer@vermontlaw.edu

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