A legal scholar from Michigan State University with expertise in family law has been appointed dean of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. Melanie B. Jacobs will assume the appointment in July 2022 pending approval from the Board of Trustees.
During listening sessions held by Interim President Lori Gonzalez last fall, law school faculty, staff and students expressed the qualities they wanted in a new dean, and Gonzalez said Jacobs possesses all of them.
“We are excited Melanie has chosen to join the University of Louisville,” Gonzalez said. “She is experienced and well versed in the academic and administrative aspects of a law school. She has a history of championing diversity, equity and inclusion and is a strong advocate of the needs of students, faculty and staff.”
Jacobs is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in family law. Her scholarship advocates for legal recognition of non-traditional families and changes to the traditional establishment of parent-child relationships due to the increased use of assisted reproductive technologies. Her work has been featured in nearly a dozen law reviews including the Buffalo Law Review, Arizona State Law Journal and Yale Journal of Law & Feminism.
Jacobs is part of the Feminists Judgments Project in which she has submissions in “Reproductive Justice Rewritten,” “Family Law Rewritten” and “Trusts & Estates Rewritten,” all published by Cambridge University Press.
Jacobs joined Michigan State’s College of Law faculty in 2002 and served as interim dean from January 2020 to June 2021. She also served appointments as senior associate dean for academic affairs, senior associate dean/chief of staff, senior associate dean for admissions and international programs and associate dean for graduate and international programs. She has served on numerous advisory committees at Michigan State and is the former chair of the Association of American Law Schools’ Family and Juvenile Law Section.
Prior to joining Michigan State, Jacobs served as a Freedman Fellow and a lecturer in law at Temple University School of Law. Her additional teaching experience includes two years as a clinical instructor for the Hale & Dorr Legal Services Center, now known as the WilmerHale Legal Services Center, at Harvard Law School and as an adjunct instructor at the Boston University School of Law. She also held visiting appointments at Marshall-Wythe School of Law in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Fudan University in Shanghai, China.
Jacobs received her AB from Columbia College in New York City, her JD from Boston University, and her LLM from Temple University. She is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.
“I am thrilled and privileged to serve as the next dean of the Brandeis School of Law,” Jacobs said. “Brandeis Law has a rich tradition of public service and I look forward to working with the outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni and our community partners to continue to build on Justice Brandeis’ extraordinary legacy.
“Consistent with Justice Brandeis’ predilection for innovation and interdisciplinary studies, I am excited to explore new curricular initiatives that will ensure our law students are well prepared for 21st century lawyering, including building programs with other Louisville deans and expanding interdisciplinary opportunities.”