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. In the four years since she became dean Cardozo has jumped 23 places in the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings to 52nd.
Dean Leslie was the driving force behind a number of important initiatives at the intersection of law, technology, intellectual property and business, including: The FAME Center for fashion, art, media and entertainment law, which prepares students to work in the creative industries through its extensive curricular offerings; The Cardozo/Google Patent Diversity Project, which seeks to increase the number of women and minority innovators receiving patents; The Blockchain Project, which offers classes and symposia on blockchain and regulation; The Center for Rights and Justice; and The Center for Real Estate Law and Policy.
A Cardozo professor since 1995, Dean Leslie is a leading scholar in trusts & estates, fiduciary obligations and nonprofit governance. Courses taught include Property, Trusts and Estates, Nonprofit Governance, and Evidence. She has been presented the “Best First-Year Professor” award by three graduating Cardozo classes. She served as Cardozo’s Vice Dean from 2014-15.
Dean Leslie is a prolific scholar whose work has been published by the NYU Law Review, Boston College Law Review, Florida Law Review, William & Mary Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, and Indiana Law Journal, among others. She is 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 School of Law, and a Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. She has served on the NY State Bar and NYC Bar Joint Committee on the Uniform Trust Code, as a Legal Fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel (ACTEC), and on the executive committees of the AALS Sections on Trusts & Estates and Nonprofits and Philanthropy.
Prior to joining the Cardozo Law faculty she clerked for Justice Gary S. Stein of the New Jersey Supreme Court and practiced commercial litigation at Debevoise & Plimpton, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, and McCarter & English.
A native of Las Vegas, Dean Leslie received her B.A. in Theater from the University of Oregon, with honors, before moving to New York City, where she spent several years working as a professional actor and vocalist. She then received her J.D. from Cardozo Law magna cum laude in 1991, where she was the Executive Editor of the Cardozo Law Review.
“There is unmistakable energy at Cardozo, and every day I look forward to advancing the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of this remarkable law school.”