Leebron Named Dean of Law

Authority on Trade to Take Office July 1


Photograph: David Leebron.


David W. Leebron, a professor at Columbia Law School and an authority on international trade and investment, has been chosen as the 12th dean of Columbia's School of Law, it was announced Monday by President Rupp.

Leebron, a member of the Columbia faculty since 1989, will take up his new post on July 1 when Lance Liebman steps down after five years as dean to return to teaching and research at Columbia Law School.

Leebron takes the helm as the Law School is more than two-thirds of the way through its $125 million capital campaign. The campaign has included funds for a major renovation of Jerome L. Greene Hall, the School's main building, which will be completed this August, as well as the erection of the 10-story William C. Warren Hall nearby, to be finished in late fall.

Leebron, 41, has published in the areas of international trade and investment, corporate law and tort law. He also teaches international law and human rights. After receiving his legal education at Harvard Law School, he clerked for Shirley M. Hufstedler on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. After Hufstedler was appointed Secretary of Education by President Carter, Leebron served as an adjunct professor at the UCLA School of Law. Beginning in 1981 he worked for two years at the New York law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. He was a member of the faculty of New York University School of Law from 1983 to 1989 before joining the Columbia faculty.

Rupp said in announcing the new dean: "I am enormously pleased that David Leebron is accepting the challenge of carrying forward the distinguished leadership that Lance Liebman has provided for the Law School. David is an energetic, warm, and accomplished colleague who is passionate about the University and our Law School. I look forward with great anticipation to working closely with him in the years ahead."

Liebman said: "David Leebron is an ideal choice to lead Columbia Law School into the next century. He is a great teacher, a fine scholar, and a wonderful faculty colleague. I know that under his leadership this great law school will complete its capital campaign, finish construction of the facilities we so badly need, and preserve the outstanding educational program that has been the hallmark of this school for a century. David is in a generation of law teachers who have had extensive international experience. I am sure that during his deanship the school will become even more internationalized than it is now."

Leebron said in commenting on his new post:

"In my seven years at Columbia, I have come to realize what a truly extraordinary place this is. The great traditions embodied in over two centuries of legal education at Columbia University are coupled with an unusual capacity for innovation, including the ability to incorporate new forms of scholarship and teaching. Under Lance's marvelous leadership, the law school is well poised as we enter the new century to continue our leadership role in legal education and scholarship.

"A recent Michigan study which pronounced Columbia the number one law school in the country in terms of quality well reflects our achievements. Serving as dean of this great law school is a wonderful honor and an enormous challenge. I very much look forward to working with President Rupp, my colleagues, our outstanding students, and our accomplished alumni/ae in realizing our goals, and setting and achieving new ones."

Leebron was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he attended the William Penn Charter School.

He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1976, where he majored in history and science.

Leebron received his J.D. magna cum laude in 1979 from Harvard Law School, where he was awarded the Sears Prize (given to the two students in the first year class receiving the highest averages) and served as president of the Harvard Law Review.

Leebron, who is nearly fluent in German, also served as a visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and Comparative Law in Hamburg, Germany, and as the Jean Monnet Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Bielefeld.

Leebron's published work in the areas of corporate finance, international economic law, privacy and torts reflects a wide breadth of expertise.

Among his influential articles are an analysis of tender offers, an examination of limited liability, and a study of damage awards for pain and suffering.

His most recent publication, titled "Lying Down with Procrustes: An Analysis of Harmonization Claims," appeared in the book Fairness and Harmonization, published by MIT Press and edited by Professor Jagdish Bhagwati, also of Columbia, and Professor Robert Hudec of the University of Minnesota Law School.

In November of 1995 Leebron organized the innovative conference "The Multilateral Trade Regime in the 21st Century: Structural Issues," which brought more than 40 of the world's leading international trade experts and scholars to Columbia Law School.

The conference examined the fundamental issues that are likely to determine the shape and future of the international trading system in the beginning of the next millennium.

The papers delivered at the conference are being collected in a book edited by Leebron to be published in early 1997.

Leebron is married to Y. Ping Sun, a 1988 graduate of Columbia Law School, who is an attorney specializing in international finance at the firm of Brown & Wood.

Liebman, whose interests lie in labor and employment law, legal ethics, and comparative U.S.-Japanese social welfare law, will return to full-time teaching at Columbia.

"I've enjoyed my service as dean immensely," he said, "but I am looking forward to getting back to teaching, research, and having some control over my daily schedule."


Columbia University Record -- April 19, 1996 -- Vol. 21, No. 24