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

  2. Harvard College 1966

    A.B. cum laude


  1. Distinguished Achievement Award, American Bar Association, Section on Environment, Energy and Resources 2018

  2. Defenders of Wildlife Legacy Award for Lifetime Achievement in Wildlife Conservation 2013

  3. Vanity Fair Magazine recognition as one of the Nation’s Best Environmental Stewards 2004

Selected Scholarship

  1. Debunking Creation Myths About America's Public Lands, 2018

    Published version of the Wallace Stegner Lecture, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

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

    Hastings Law Journal

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

    Environmental Law

  4. Federal Lands in the Twenty-First Century 2010

    Natural Resources Journal

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

    University of Colorado Law Review