Judge James L. Oakes '41 (1997)

Dedicated to the study of law since graduating from Harvard College in 1945 followed by Harvard Law School in 1947, Judge Oakes' distinguished legal career began as a trial lawyer. Having served in public office as Vermont State Senator from 1961-1965 and Vermont Attorney General from 1967 -1968, his legal experience led him to the District Court of Vermont in 1970 where he served until he was named to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1971, where he was Chief Judge from 1989 to 1992.


In 1983, The Learned Hand Medal for "excellence in federal jurisprudence" was presented to him and in 1991 Brandeis University awarded him the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Medal for Distinguished Legal Service.

Judge Oakes was recognized with The Environmental Law Institute Award for outstanding contributions to the improvement of environmental law and policy in 1989:"Judge Oakes has labored in the United States Federal Courts to integrate the Earth Day demands for environmental justice with the law's requirements of consistency and equity. He was present at the creation of environmental law and wrote early, trail-blazing opinions interpreting the National Environmental Policy Act and successive major environmental statutes by which Congress expanded the work of the courts to protect the environment"

His work with environmental and educational issues has helped shape the careers of new lawyers and citizens alike. He has served as a trustee of Vermont Law School and an adjunct professor of law at Duke Law School and University of lowa College of Law, teaching professional responsibility.

His North Shore Country Day School experience, graduating in 1941, made an indelible impression on him. In his own words, North Shore provided "a truly broad educational experience coupled with a socially enlightening one." Teachers such as Mrs. Childs taught him that "Latin combined a general love of poetry with a striving for excellence that has stayed with me through the years."

Clearly, his leadership in the legal profession and reputation as a judge, as acclaimed by many, illustrates his dedication to excellence and service to communities at large.

The North Shore Country Day School proudly honors Judge James L. Oakes with the 1997 Francis R. Stanton Alumni Recognition.

Presented June 6, 1997
Christopher J. Charnas '83, President of the Alumni Association
The North Shore Country Day School
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North Shore Country Day School is a junior kindergarten through 12th grade, college-preparatory school founded in Winnetka, Illinois in 1919.  With rigorous academic pursuit as the cornerstone, North Shore provides many opportunities for all students to excel – in the classroom and the laboratory, on the stage and the playing field, in their communities and beyond.

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