Emeritus Harry D. Sunderland and Distinguished Professor of Real Property Law


Professor John Leshy came to UC Hastings in the fall of 2001, after serving as Solicitor (General Counsel) of the U.S. Department of the Interior throughout the Clinton Administration. Previously he taught at Arizona State University College of Law (1980-1992), and served in the Interior Department in the Carter Administration, as special counsel to the Chair of the Committee on Natural Resources, U.S. House of Representatives, and with the Natural Resources Defense Council in California. He started his legal career as a litigator with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

In 2008-2009 Leshy co-chaired the Obama Administration transition team for the Interior Department, after heading the Interior transition team for Clinton-Gore in 1992-93. In 2013 he received the Defenders of Wildlife Legacy Award for lifetime contributions to wildlife conservation.

In 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2011 Leshy was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 1969, after earning an A.B. at Harvard College. His publications include books on the Mining Law of 1872 (1987) and the Arizona Constitution (2d edition published in 2013), and a co-author of textbooks on water law (6th edition published in 2018) and federal land and resources law (7th edition published in 2014).



  1. Harvard Law School 1969

    J.D. magna cum laude, Law

  2. Harvard College 1966

    A.B. cum laude, Undergraduate Studies


  1. Defenders of Wildlife Legacy Award 2013

    Awarded to recognize lifetime achievement in wildlife conservation.

  2. Best Environmental Stewards 2004

    Recognized as one of the nations best environmental stewards by Vanity Fair magazine.

Selected Scholarship

  1. Are U.S. Public Lands Unconstitutional? 2018

    Hastings Law Journal

  2. Legal Wilderness: Its Past and Some Speculations on its Future 2014

    Environmental Law

  3. Federal Lands in the Twenty-First Century 2010

    Natural Resources Journal

  4. A Property Clause for the Twenty-First Century 2004

    University of Colorado Law Review

  5. Shaping the Modern West: The Role of the Executive Branch 2001

    University of Colorado Law Review