Dean Lester is a leading authority on employment law and policy, specializing in workplace intellectual property law, contracts, public finance policy, and the design of social insurance laws and regulations.
Since her appointment in 2015, Dean Lester has expanded access to Columbia Law School by dramatically increasing the generosity of student financial aid; recruited leading scholars and extended the range of faculty scholarship; directed historic investments to promote career choice, with a focus on support for students interested in public service and judicial clerkships; launched innovative curricular offerings, including new clinics and externships; prioritized enhancing the student experience and community life; revitalized classrooms and other key gathering spaces within the Law School campus; and set ambitious fundraising goals as part of a $300 million capital campaign.
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 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 held visiting appointments at Harvard Law School, Georgetown Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law, University of Chicago Law School, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, in Israel.
Dean Lester is the editor of Philosophical Foundations of Labour Law (with Hugh Collins and Virginia Mantouvalou), from Oxford University Press; her widely used casebook, Employment Law: Cases and Materials (with Steven L. Willborn, Stewart J. Schwab, and John F. Burton Jr.), is now in its sixth edition. 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.”
Dean Lester 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.
The Office of the Dean oversees the academic and administrative operations of Columbia Law School, including intellectual life and curricular planning, faculty affairs and support, and internal and external communications.