Melanie Leslie became dean of Cardozo Law on July 1, 2015. She is the first Cardozo Law graduate and the first woman to hold the position. A faculty member since 1995, Dean Leslie is a leading scholar in the trusts and estates field, and is an expert on the law of fiduciary duties as it applies to trustees and charitable boards. As a professor of law she teaches Property, Trusts and Estates, Nonprofit Governance, and Evidence. Dean Leslie is widely respected for her excellent teaching skills and engagement with the student body and has been presented the “Best First-Year Professor” award by three graduating Cardozo classes.
In 2014 she became Cardozo’s Vice Dean. In this role she oversaw the introduction of new professional concentrations to the curriculum, expanded Cardozo’s renowned intellectual property program to include major new initiatives on technology and data law, and launched the Fashion, Arts, Media, & Entertainment Law Center (FAME).
Dean Leslie is a prolific scholar, and has published in many important law reviews including the NYU Law Review, Boston College Law Review, Florida Law Review, William & Mary Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, and Indiana Law Journal. She is also the coauthor of a leading casebook, Estates and Trusts, Cases and Materials, as well as Concepts and Insights: Trusts and Estates. Dean Leslie has been a visiting associate professor of law at New York University and a visiting professor of law at Columbia Law School. She is a member of the NY State Bar and NYC Bar Joint Committee on the Uniform Trust Code, a Legal Fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel (ACTEC), and an Executive Committee member of the AALS Section on Nonprofits and Philanthropy.
Prior to joining the Cardozo Law faculty in 1995, she clerked for Justice Gary S. Stein of the New Jersey Supreme Court. She practiced commercial litigation at Debevoise & Plimpton, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, and McCarter & English.
Dean Leslie received her B.A. from the University of Oregon with Honors, and her J.D. from Cardozo Law magna cum laude in 1991, where she was executive editor of the Cardozo Law Review. In addition to being dean of the law school, she is also the Dr. Samuel Belkin Professor of Law.