Robert Appel is a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer practicing in Burlington. He was admitted to practice law in 1984 after a successful reading law clerkship rather than attending law school. Robert maintains an active litigation practice having tried numerous cases to verdicts and routinely appearing before the Vermont Supreme Court.
Robert is dedicated to doing his utmost to advance the interests of his clients. He views his role as both a zealous advocate as well as a counselor to his clients. He believes that the client should be empowered to assist to the extent possible in supporting his representation. Robert takes a holistic approach to the practice of law in considering not only the legal needs of his clients but also their emotional well-being.
Robert retired from the State of Vermont in 2012 after leading the Vermont Human Rights Commission for more than a decade, and was defender general, Vermont’s chief public defender, during the prior eight years. He held a variety of investigative and attorney positions during his state career including civil rights investigator, correctional defender, public defender and chief of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Unit. Through his legislative and legal advocacy, Robert has been active in setting and implementing criminal justice reform policies as well as striving to ensure that all students feel safe in school. He is well known throughout Vermont as an advocate for social and racial justice.
Robert presently serves on the boards of the following organization-- ACLU-VT, Vermont Legal Aid, Vermonters for Criminal Justice and is a member of the Vermont Bar Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a Vermont State Police Committee on “Fair and Impartial Policing.” His work is focused on reducing racial disparities in criminal justice and school disciplinary actions, preventing the incarceration of persons with mental disabilities and addiction issues and reversing the current regime of mass incarceration.
Robert has also served in a variety of municipal offices former home town, Woodbury, including member and chair of both the planning commission and the school board also serving on the Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union board. Robert was also the Town Moderator for several years in Woodbury. He attended Haverford College, Woodbury Associates and graduated from Goddard College.