Staff Biographies

Judith E. Leonard

General Counsel

May 1, 2016

Judith Leonard is the general counsel of the Smithsonian Institution. She reports to the Board of Regents and Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton. 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.

Before joining the Smithsonian, Leonard served as the vice president for legal affairs and general counsel at the University of Arizona (1998–2009). She was the principal legal advisor, directed and coordinated all legal matters, advised on policy and compliance, served as a member of the university president’s cabinet and supervised the legal department. Leonard also was an adjunct associate professor in the College of Education and served on the Community Advisory Board of Arizona Public Media.

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. She has recently been elected to the American Law Institute, the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly works to clarify, modernize and improve the law, and she serves on the American Bar Association’s Legal Education Accreditation Committee. 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 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.

# # #



Judith E. Leonard, General Counsel

Judith E. Leonard is general counsel of the Smithsonian Institution. Leonard reports to Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough and serves as the principal legal advisor to the Secretary; the Board of Regents, the Smithsonian’s governing body; and other officials on legal matters.