Barrister's is a non-profit bookstore supporting the students, faculty and staff of Vermont Law School.
Barrister's Bookshop is an independent nonprofit corporation. It is operated for the benefit of the Vermont Law School's (VLS) student body. During a period when the only options for purchasing books were extremely limited and expensive, members of The Law Wives Club and interested students sensed a need to make books more accessible to students. In August of 1974, they met to discuss the possibility of a non-profit store that could channel profits from book purchases back to students. The meeting resulted in the formation of "The Law Wives' Students' Book Store," which would later be incorporated on August 4, 1974 as "Law Wives Student Bookstore Inc." At the meeting, a Board of Directors was also elected. On April 13, 1979, the Articles of Association were amended to declare the Law Wives Bookstore a non-profit corporation having no capital stock and to change the name to "Barrister's Book Shop Ltd."
Barrister's held its grand opening in September 1974 and began supplying students with textbooks, hornbooks, review materials, and office supplies. Student volunteers and their spouses operated the store. Flexible weekend and weekday hours were established in an attempt to accommodate students' needs.
In July 1975, Barrister's received its non-profit status and was thereafter exempt from federal taxation. In February 1976, with the guidance and advice of Professor Les Peat, Barrister's received exemption from Vermont sales tax on "educational materials." "Educational materials" include textbooks, used books, and hornbooks. Barrister's first location was in the upstairs of St. Matthews Church across the street from the school building. In 1975, it moved to the basement of the main school building. Barrister's then moved to the old harness shop, connected to the Abbott House. Dean Debevoise secured this space for Barrister's in recognition of the value of its service. He wrote letters of support, which made it possible for Barrister's to create credit accounts with major publishers. Students from the classes of 1976 and 1977, exhibiting extraordinary support, contributed money to continue Barrister's operations. Later, that money was either refunded through store credit or officially donated by the students.
Faced with the winter chills of Vermont, once again Barristers relocated. A wood stove proved inadequate to heat the old harness shop and the store was temporarily moved to the main portion of Abbott House. Before returning to the old harness shop, major improvements were made to the building. Improvements included a heating system, new carpeting, paneling, and shelves. All of the work was completed on a volunteer basis from board members and other students. In 1987, Barrister's moved behind the Rogers House. In 1995, Barrister's moved to the first floor of the Deering House located on Chelsea Street. In 2010, Barrister's moved to its current corner shop location at 190 Chelsea Street.