Meet Dean Melanie Jacobs

Melanie B. Jacobs joins the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville as our 27th Dean.  She joins us from  Michigan State University’s College of Law, where she has taught since 2002. 

In her time at MSU, Jacobs has served as Associate Dean for Graduate & International Programs, as Senior Associate Dean & Chief of Staff, as Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and as Interim Dean between January 2020 and May 2021.  Prior to this, she was a member – and chair – of the College of Law’s Faculty Advisory Council. She has also served on several MSU committees and bodies, including the University Council.  As Interim Dean, Jacobs had to lead the response to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and balance the transition to facilitate a safe continuation of the College of Law’s activities.  She was also able to improve fundraising over the previous year’s figure during the pandemic.

Dean Jacobs is an internationally and nationally recognized expert in Family Law and has published extensively on the subject.  In particular, she has advocated for legal recognition of non-traditional family units and the evolution of legal thinking to engage with continuing developments in assisted reproductive technologies.  Recent research has been exploring the links between procreative autonomy and intentional parenthood.  She is a former chair of the Association of American Law Schools’ Family and Juvenile Law Section.  She is also a notable feminist voice in legal scholarship and is a part of the Feminist Judgements Project.

She has published articles in three books and a dozen law reviews, and presented at over 30 different conferences, as well as almost 20 other scholarly presentations.

Dean Jacobs received her B.A. from Columbia University in New York City, and her J.D. from Boston University, shortly after which she was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar, later gaining her LL.M. from Temple University.

Initially, she worked as a staff counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division before moving to the Wilmer Hale Legal Services Center at Harvard as a clinical instructor in the Family Unit.  She became an Associate at Witmer, Karp, Warner and Thuottle in Boston.  However, her love for teaching drew her back quickly, first to Boston University as an adjunct professor of Legal Writing and Research, before earning a Freedman Fellowship at Temple’s Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia.  From there, she moved to MSU’s College of Law in 2002.  While at MSU, she was a visiting professor at William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law.  Dean Jacobs also taught in China as a guest lecturer at Fudan University in Shanghai in October 2008.

Most recently at MSU, Dean Jacobs has taught Family Law: Child, Family, and the State; Property; and Decedents’ Estates and Trusts, as well as conducting a seminar on Assisted Reproductive Technologies.  She has frequently taught Law and Gender, as well as a Comparative Family Law course for the College of Law in Dubai in UAE.