Gillian Lester is Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. She is an authority on employment law and policy who has written and lectured extensively on workplace intellectual property law, contracts, public finance policy, and the design of social insurance laws and regulations.
Since becoming the 15th dean of Columbia Law School, in 2015, Dean Lester has built upon the Law School’s distinguished history as a center of cutting-edge scholarship and a training ground for leaders in law, government, business, human rights, diplomacy, academia, and the judiciary. Under her stewardship, the Law School has expanded its experiential-learning opportunities and has created innovative new courses that cross disciplines. During her tenure, nine new professors have joined the faculty.
Committed to ensuring Columbia Law School remains a dynamic force in the world, Dean Lester launched the $300 million, five-year Campaign for Columbia Law in 2017. The ambitious initiative supports the Law School’s core institutional priorities, including increasing financial aid to attract exceptional students without regard to their socioeconomic status; enhancing support for faculty scholarship, curricular development, and innovative programs; and reimagining the Law School’s learning spaces, including the Arthur W. Diamond Law Library.
Dean Lester has traveled around the globe to strengthen the Columbia Law School alumni network, which provides invaluable professional connections and opportunities for students and graduates throughout their careers. She also has inaugurated new programs such as the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series; the Davis Polk Leadership Initiative; and the Lawyers, Community and Impact student event series.
Dean Lester earned her LL.B. from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, where she was editor-in-chief of the Law Review, and she received her J.S.D. from Stanford Law School. She began her teaching career at UCLA School of Law in 1994 and joined Berkeley Law School as a professor in 2006, serving as interim dean from 2012 to 2014. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, Georgetown Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law, University of Chicago Law School, and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, in Israel.
Dean Lester recently edited Philosophical Foundations of Labour Law (with Hugh Collins and Virginia Mantouvalou), forthcoming from Oxford University Press, and published the sixth edition of her casebook, Employment Law: Cases and Materials (with Steven L. Willborn, Stewart J. Schwab & John F. Burton Jr.). Her journal articles and book chapters include “‘Keep Government Out of My Medicare’: The Elusive Search for Popular Support of Taxes and Social Spending” and “Can Joe the Plumber Support Redistribution? Law, Social Preferences, and Sustainable Policy Design.”
She serves on the boards of the Legal Aid Society of New York and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She also serves on the executive committee of the Association of American Law Schools and is a member of the American Law Institute (ALI). She was an adviser to the ALI Restatement of Employment Law.
Dean Lester is married to Eric Talley, the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. They live in New York City with their two teenage children.
In an interview with Bloomberg's Big Law Business, Dean Lester shared her views on who is taking the LSAT these days and why and how she is seeing the demand for legal skills evolve.Read More