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John D. Leshy

The Harry D. Sunderland Distinguished Professor of Real Property Law
Hastings College of the Law
San Francisco, CA 94102

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Education:

  • A.B. cum laude from Harvard College, 1966
  • J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, 1969


Bio:

John Leshy was born and raised in a village in southern Ohio. He received an A.B. cum laude from Harvard College in 1966 and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School three years later. Upon graduation he litigated civil rights cases for the U.S. Department of Justice out of Washington, D.C. for three years, then moved to the Bay Area and worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council (a national nonprofit environmental group) for five years. In 1977 Professor Leshy returned to Washington to join the Carter Administration as Associate Solicitor for Energy & Resources. In 1980 he became Professor of Law at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe.

After twelve years in the classroom, Leshy took leave to serve as Special Counsel to Chairman George Miller of the House Natural Resources Committee in Washington, D.C., and then became leader of the Clinton-Gore transition team for the Interior Department. In early 1993 President Clinton appointed him to be Solicitor (General Counsel) of Interior where, following Senate confirmation, he served under Secretary Bruce Babbitt until the end of the Administration, the second longest tenure of any Solicitor in the Department's 158 year history.

Leshy was a visitor at Hastings in the 2001-2002 academic year, resigning from the ASU faculty in the spring of 2002 to accept a permanent appointment at Hastings. He was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School in the spring semester 2004, and again in the winter term in 2006, and will be there again in the fall semester 2007. He has taught at Georgetown Law School and the University of San Diego, and has been a visiting fellow at the University of Western Australia in Perth and the University of Southampton in England.

In his academic career Professor Leshy has taught constitutional law (state and federal), Indian law, water law, public land law, natural resources law and policy, and law and social change. He is co-author of the standard casebook on federal land and resources law and one of the leading casebooks on water law, and has published books on the Mining Law of 1872 and the Arizona Constitution as well as many articles on federal lands, water and other natural resources issues, and on constitutional and comparative law.

Professor Leshy has served on several commissions and advisory bodies and has been a consultant to many nonprofit organizations, foundations, governmental agencies, and Indian tribes. He is currently a trustee of the Grand Canyon Trust and the Natural Heritage Institute, and has been the President and is now Vice-Chair of the Board of the Wyss Foundation, which supports land conservation activities in the Rocky Mountain West. He has also litigated civil rights, environmental and natural resource cases in state and federal courts.

Leshy's diversions include music (playing piano and listening to classic jazz and classical music), hiking, and river running. He is on the board of directors of Arizona Raft Adventures, which operates river trips in the Grand Canyon.

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