Faculty Directory

Melissa Scanlan

Visiting Professor


Melissa K. Scanlan is a Visiting Professor of Law at Boston College Law School. She is a Professor of Law and has served as Associate Dean of the Environmental Law Program and Director of the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School, which consistently earned the US News top ranking in environmental law under her leadership. She has directed the Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship, a robust international forum for scholars to give and receive feedback on works in progress.  

An active scholar, the US State Department’s Fulbright Program awarded her a Fulbright Senior Scholar position in Spain in 2019 to pursue research about Spanish cooperatives that are sustainability leaders. She has written numerous book chapters and law review articles on a variety of environmental and new economy law topics.  State Supreme Court opinions have cited her law review articles and conservation groups have republished them in shorter forms. 

She is the founder of a variety of enterprises in the social economy, all of which continue today. Infused with clear vision and longevity, she raised millions of dollars to capitalize these enterprises and designed their governance documents, establishing the mission, purpose, and day to day direction. She brings a deep understanding of starting and stewarding enterprises to her research, teaching, and service.  She was the co-founder, with Gus Speth, of the New Economy Law Center, which she now directs. She was the co-lead consultant in launching the Center for Water Policy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences. She co-founded Washington Heights Community Garden. Immediately out of law school, she received a competitive Equal Justice Works Fellowship (formerly NAPIL) and an Echoing Green Fellowship to found and direct Midwest Environmental Advocates, Wisconsin's first non-profit environmental law center.

Prior to becoming a law professor, she represented non-profit, community group, and tribal government clients in high impact lawsuits and shaped public policy in areas ranging from the Great Lakes Compact and water supply issues to enforcement and implementation of the Clean Water Act. During that time, her peers selected her as a Wisconsin Super Lawyers' Rising Star in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Professor Scanlan brings an interdisciplinary approach to her work. She holds a BA in World Politics from the Catholic University of America, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.  She earned a law degree and Master of Science in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California, Berkeley.

Outside her scholarly work, she is co-founder of the Washington Heights Community Garden, and keeps thousands of honey bees in her backyard.