UVA Names Leslie Kendrick as Next Dean of the School of Law

December 18, 2023
Portrait of Leslie Kendrick

Leslie Kendrick has been selected as the 13th dean of the University of Virginia School of Law. (Photo by Jesús Pino)

The University of Virginia announced Monday that Leslie Kendrick has been selected to serve as the 13th dean of the School of Law. Her term begins July 1.

Kendrick, a 2006 graduate of the School of Law who joined the faculty in 2008, will succeed Risa Goluboff, the first woman to serve as dean. Goluboff, the Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law and a professor of history at UVA, plans to return to the faculty, which she first joined in 2002, at the conclusion of her eight-year term. 

“I’m thrilled to welcome Leslie Kendrick as the new dean of the Law School,” said UVA President Jim Ryan, himself a former School of Law professor. “She has a tremendous record of teaching and scholarship in torts and the First Amendment, and her University service has been invaluable. She ably led the committee that crafted UVA’s Statement on Free Expression and Free Inquiry and served as vice dean of the Law School during a time of rapid growth.

“I’m grateful to the search committee for their consideration in selecting Leslie Kendrick, as well as to outgoing dean Risa Goluboff, who has been an exceptional leader and has left an enduring legacy at UVA Law.”

Kendrick is the White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs, the Elizabeth D. and Richard A. Merrill Professor of Law, and director of the Center for the First Amendment at the Law School. She serves as a special adviser on free expression and inquiry to the University provost and served as the Law School’s vice dean from 2017 to 2021. She said she was “humbled and thankful” to be chosen as dean.

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“The Law School has been my home since I arrived as a student 20 years ago,” Kendrick said. “I believe now, as I believed then, that the UVA combination of world-class research, consummate professional preparation and deep sense of community makes this the best law school in the country. The Law School faculty, staff, students and alumni are my beloved colleagues and friends, and I am honored to partner with them in building the future of this exceptional institution.”

Kendrick is a member of the American Law Institute and co-author of the casebook, “Tort Law: Responsibilities and Redress.” Her work has appeared in publications such as the Yale Law Journal, Harvard Law Review, and Philosophy and Public Affairs. Kendrick is a recipient of UVA’s All-University Teaching Award and the Law School’s Carl McFarland Prize for outstanding research by a junior faculty member. 

“Leslie has been a terrific partner in helping us with matters relating to free expression, and it was clear during the search process that her extensive knowledge, excellence in research and teaching, and leadership experience would benefit the Law School community tremendously,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Ian Baucom, who co-chaired the search committee with UVA Law School professor John C. Jeffries Jr. “I look forward to working closely with Leslie in her new role as she builds upon Risa’s brilliant work as dean.”

Jeffries, who served as Law School dean from 2001 to 2008, added that Kendrick was a star student whose dedication to UVA and the law has never flagged.

“Leslie is a home-grown leader,” Jeffries said. “Her deep knowledge of this institution and the people who live and work here will be an inestimable advantage.”

Leslie Kendrick giving a lecture to a room full of students at the law school
Kendrick is an expert in the First Amendment and played a pivotal role in crafting the University’s Statement on Free Expression and Free Inquiry. (Photo by Jesús Pino)

A native of eastern Kentucky, Kendrick studied classics and English as a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received her master’s and doctorate in English literature as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. She attended the Law School as a Hardy Cross Dillard Scholar, served on the Virginia Law Review and received several awards, including the Margaret G. Hyde Award, the Law School’s highest honor; the Judge John R. Brown Award for Excellence in Legal Writing; and first place in the Food and Drug Law Institute Austern Paper Competition.

Before joining the faculty, Kendrick clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and a 1972 Law School graduate, and Justice David Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court.

A member of the Virginia State Bar and the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, Kendrick has served on the executive committee of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association and as an adviser to the “Restatement of the Law Third, Torts: Defamation and Privacy,” part of a series of publications by the American Law Institute that provide guidance to judges and lawyers on general legal principles.

“She was a true partner in every success the Law School achieved and every challenge we overcame during her time as vice dean,” said Goluboff, who also paired with Kendrick to host the podcast “Common Law” for its first three seasons. “I cannot imagine a better-prepared, more highly qualified or more exciting successor. Leslie is simply fantastic.”

Consistently ranked among the top law schools in the United States, the School of Law is ranked No. 1 in Best Quality of Life by Princeton Review, is No. 5 in placing Supreme Court clerks and is No. 1 in the percentage of Class of 2022 graduates (95.4%) in full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar passage, according to American Bar Association data. That is considered the gold standard for employment after law school.

Media Contact

Mary Wood

Chief Communications Officer University of Virginia School of Law