Dean Melanie Leslie became dean of Cardozo Law School on July 1, 2015. She is the first Cardozo Law graduate and the first woman to hold the position.  Under her leadership, Cardozo has risen 19 points in U.S. News to 56th, and employment numbers for Cardozo graduates have improved dramatically. More than 80% of the class of 2017 obtained long-term, full-time jobs for which bar passage is required, placing Cardozo among the top three New York City law schools and 25th in the nation for job placement. 

     Dean Leslie has been the driving force behind many new Cardozo programs, including the FAME Center for fashion, art, media and entertainment law, the Cardozo/Google Patent Diversity Project, the Blockchain Project, the Center for Rights and Justice, and the Center for Real Estate Law & Policy.

     A faculty member since 1995, Dean Leslie is a leading scholar in the trusts and estates, and is an expert on the law of fiduciary duties as it applies to trustees and charitable boards.  Her work has been published in the NYU Law Review, Boston College Law Review, Florida Law Review, William & Mary Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, and Indiana Law Journal, among other publications.  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 taught Property, Trusts and Estates, Nonprofit Governance, and Evidence, and has received the “Best First-Year Professor” award three times. She has been a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at New York University Law School, and a Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia Law School.  She was a member of the NY State Bar and NYC Bar Joint Committee on the Uniform Trust Code, and is a Legal Fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel (ACTEC), an Executive Committee member of the AALS Section on Nonprofits and Philanthropy and an Executive Committee member of the AALS Deans Section.

          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. She clerked for Justice Gary S. Stein of the New Jersey Supreme Court and practiced commercial litigation at McCarter & English.