Gillian Lester

Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law

Office: Office of the Dean, Jerome Greene Hall, Suite 800
435 West 116th Street, Box B-12
New York NY 10027
Tel: 212-854-2675
Fax: 212-854-9740

Areas of Teaching and Research

  • Employment law and policy
  • Contracts
  • Stanford University, J.S.D., 1998
  • University of Toronto, LL.B., 1990
  • University of British Columbia, B.Sc., 1986

Gillian Lester joined Columbia Law School as Dean in January 2015. Previously, she served as Acting Dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where she was the Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of Law and the Werner and Mimi Wolfen Research Professor.

Dean Lester is a nationally recognized authority in employment law and policy whose research has explored workplace intellectual property law, public finance policy, and the design of social insurance laws and regulations. She is the author of numerous books and articles and is co-author of one of the leading casebooks on employment law, Employment Law Cases and Materials. She is also a member of the American Law Institute and was an adviser to the ALI Restatement of Employment Law.

Dean Lester began her teaching career in 1994 at UCLA School of Law, becoming a full professor in 1999, and joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 2006. At Berkeley, she served as co-director of the Berkeley Center for Health, Economic and Family Security; Associate Dean for the J.D. Program and Curricular Planning; and, most recently, Acting Dean (2012-2014). 

She has held external appointments as the Sidley Austin Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, Sloan Fellow and Visiting Professor at Georgetown University Law Center, and held short-term visiting appointments at USC Gould School of Law, University of Chicago Law School, and Radzyner School of Law Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel.

Dean Lester, Columbia Law School’s 15th dean, holds degrees from Stanford Law School and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the law review. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia.

Selected Publications

See publications tab for full list.

  • Employment Law Cases And Materials, Fifth Ed. (Lexis-Nexis, 2012) (with Willborn, Schwab & Burton)
  • Family Security Insurance: A New Foundation for Economic Security (Workplace Flexibility 2010 and Berkeley Center for Health, Economic and Family Security, 2010)
  • Jumping The Queue: An Inquiry Into The Legal Treatment Of Students With Disabilities (Harvard Press, 1997) (with Mark Kelman)
Articles and Chapters
  • “Age Discrimination and Labour Law in the United States,” in Mia Ronnmar & Ann Numhauser-Henning (eds.), Age Discrimination In Labour Law (Kluwer Law International, forthcoming, 2015).
  • “Keep Government Out of My Medicare”: The Search for Popular Support of Taxes and Social Spending, in Michael Sherraden and Marion Crain (eds.) Working And Living In The Shadow Of Economic Fragility (Oxford U. Press, 2013)
  • "Can Joe the Plumber Support Redistribution? Law, Social Preferences, and Sustainable Policy Design, in Tax Law Review (2011)
  • “Beyond Collective Bargaining: Modern Unions and Social Solidarity,” in Brian Langille and Guy Davidov (eds.), The Idea of Labor Law (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
  • "Restrictive Covenants and Choice of Laws: An American Perspective," in Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal (2010)
  • "A Defense of Paid Family Leave" in Harvard Journal of Law & Gender (2005)
  • "Unemployment Insurance and Wealth Redistribution" in UCLA Law Review (2001)
  • “Careers and Contingency” in Stanford Law Review (1998)