Legal Writing Program

Welcome to the Legal Writing Program at Vermont Law School!

Our dedicated staff of experienced professors are committed to making every student a better writer. We have developed a rigorous, three-semester program that engages students with real-world assignments. These assignments—and the detailed feedback from the professors—are designed to make students “practice ready” for their summer internships or post-JD positions. Through this effort, VLS students have a regional and national reputation for excellence in legal writing. We encourage you to explore these pages to learn how our program can help you master the art of legal writing.

Student Accomplishments:

VLS Team competing in the Jeffrey G. Miller 2019 National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, White Plains, New York, February 21-23, 2019
2019 VLS National Environmental Moot Court Team
From Left to Right: Rachael Swiatek, Luckie Milad and Mahmoudy Kemal












The team performed in an outstanding performance at the competition.  They made it to the quarterfinals of the competition, where they faced two excellent teams.  The three judges praised each teams' performance, with one judge lamenting the possibility of one day facing, and likely losing to, any of the participants as opposing counsel.

In the first argument, a foreign national brought a claim under the Alien Tort Statute against “Hexon Global” for damages and injunctive relief for past and future harms resulting from climate change and sea level rise.  In the second argument, a U.S. citizen is bringing a claim against the United States for Due Process-based public trust right to government protection from atmospheric climate change.    The team faced hard-hitting (and some off-the-wall) questions from two panels and tough competition from the other teams.  

Luckie Milad was selected as best oralist in the first argument and Rachael Swiatek was selected as best oralist for the second argument. The team performed exceptionally.


VLS Students Delivered Outstanding Performances at the Northeastern Black Law Students Association Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition in Nashua, New Hampshire
Northeastern Black Law Students Association Thurgood Marshall Moot Court competition team
From left to right: Kyron Williams, Ray Carre, Rasheta Butler and Diane Eze

This competition involved teams from Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.  These students researched and drafted briefs for a case about whether kneeling during the National Anthem was First Amendment protected speech. The case also examined a contract and statute of limitations issue.  Our students represented Vermont Law School well and received excellent feedback from the judges. The students acted professionally throughout and supported and cheered for one another and their fellow competitors.

Special recognition goes to Diane and Rasheta who earned one of the three spots to compete at the National Thurgood Marshall Competition in Little Rock, Arkansas in March.  This competition is composed of the three top teams from each of the six BLSA regions. This is an historic moment at Vermont Law School.  Diane and Rasheta sailed through the preliminary rounds and then competed in the quarterfinals against Harvard Law School.  Harvard was ranked second in the competition after the preliminary rounds, but no big deal. Rasheta and Diane easily beat the Harvard team and moved on to the semifinals against Columbia.  One of their semifinal judges is a legend at this competition –  he is known for his incredibly tough questions and notoriously low scores.  That judge chose Rasheta and Diane as the winners of the round, but was outvoted by the other two judges.  (Their opponent went on to win the competition.) Rasheta and Diane moved on to the third place round against the University of Buffalo – the winner of which would go to Nationals. Rasheta and Diane delivered the arguments of their lives (so far) and won the round and the third place prize.


VLS Sports Law Arbitration Team advances to Playoff Rounds in Tulane Tournament
VLS Arbitration Team at Tulane University
From left to right: Jared Kahn, Andrew Dinwoodie, Mahmoudy Kemal and Kaelyn Barbour

The VLS Sports Law Arbitration Team advanced to the playoff rounds for the first time in VLS' history of participation in Tulane University's Sports Law Arbitration tournament in mid January, 2019.  In a close call, the team lost in the playoffs to the team that won last year's best brief and best oralist awards.  We are proud of Kaelyn Barbour, Andrew Dinwoodie, Jared Kahn and team captain Mahmoudy Kemal for their hard work and impressive effort.  They have set a new standard of excellence for VLS in this competition.

VLS Student Wins the Burton Award! February 2018
Andrew Rome
Andrew Rome - Burton Award Winner

We are delighted to announce that Andrew Rome, Vermont Law School's official nominee for the Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing, has won the award for his article, Black Snake on the Periphery: The Dakota Access Pipeline and Tribal Jurisdictional Sovereignty, published in the North Dakota Law Review. The Burton Award is the most prestigious award in legal writing. Schools from across the country compete but only ten winners are selected. Against this stiff competition, Vermont Law School Students consistently win the award. Vermont Law School students have now won the award five times in the last eight years (Benjamin Leoni (2011); Garrett Chrostek (2012); Lizzie Tisher (2014); Carrie Scrufari (2017); Andrew Rome (2018)). This is a high honor and a tremendous recognition of how accomplished our students are.

Andrew was born and raised in the Montpelier, Vermont area.  He attended Keene State College in Keene, N.H., graduating in 2007 with a major in sociology.  After college, he moved back to Burlington, Vermont, where he spent seven years in the social services field working with children diagnosed with emotional behavioral disorder and with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  In 2014, he entered Vermont Law School and graduated in 2017. He currently serve as a judicial law clerk in the chambers of Associate Justice Beth Robinson of the Vermont Supreme Court.

Congratulations Andrew!

VLS National Moot Court team wins Region 1 National Moot Court Competition
VLS National Moot Court Team
VLS students Miranda Jensen JD'18, Thomas Flynn JD/MELP'18 and Amanda Quinlan JD'18

In mid November, the VLS National Moot Court team travelled to Boston College Law School to compete in the Region 1 National Moot Court Competition. After many rounds, the team finished the competition strong and brought home the championship! The team will be competing in January at the National Competition held in New York City. See the press release here.

Professor Accomplishments:

Recent Publications

Professor Greg Johnson had a recent publication in The Vermont Bar Journal: Fall 2017, Volume 43, No. 3. His piece is titled "Is Neil Gorsuch a Role Model for Legal Writing? Yes and No" which can be found here. 

This past summer, Professor Brian Porto was busy publishing a book which is titled May It Please the Court, Third Edition. You can purchase the book here. However, his book was not the only thing he was busy publishing, he also had an article featured in The Vermont Bar Journal: Summer 2017 Volume 43. His article is titled The Rhetorical Legacy of Antonin Scalia which can be found here.

May It Please the Court
Brian Porto's recent publication.