Judith Leonard is the general counsel of the Smithsonian Institution. She reports to the Board of Regents and Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch. She serves as the principal legal advisor to the Board, the Secretary and other Institution officials.
The Smithsonian’s general counsel directs and coordinates all legal matters and prepares legal opinions relevant to the operations of the Institution, including coordination with the Department of Justice on litigation matters, representation in administrative proceedings, engagement and management of outside counsel and management of the team of lawyers and support staff who provide the legal advice and representation to the entire Institution.
Leonard has served as the general counsel of the Smithsonian since 2009 following a decade as the vice president and general counsel of the University of Arizona where she also taught higher education law. Previously Leonard was an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Education and General Counsel of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Executive Office of the President in Washington, D.C.
She served as assistant attorney general in the office of the Arizona Attorney General (1990–1991) and as associate university counsel at the University of North Carolina (1983–1990).
Leonard is active in the National Association of College and University Attorneys and the Association of Corporate Counsel. In 2014, she was elected to the American Law Institute, the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly works to clarify, modernize and improve the law. She serves on the board of trustees of the Southern Education Foundation and on the advisory board for the Widener Global Leadership Program at Wichita State University. She is also a member of the Women’s Advisory Board of the Girl Scouts of the National Capital Region and of the Women’s Forum of Washington, D.C., a chapter of the International Women’s Forum. Leonard was the recipient of the 2021 Law College Association Award of the University of Arizona, where she serves on the board of visitors. She has also served on the American Bar Association’s Legal Education Accreditation Committee.
Leonard earned her juris doctor degree and master’s degree in education from the University of North Carolina and a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.
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