David F. Levi

Dean and Professor of Law


David F. Levi became the 14th dean of Duke Law School on July 1, 2007. Prior to his appointment, he was the Chief United States District Judge for the Eastern District of California with chambers in Sacramento. He was appointed United States Attorney by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and a United States district judge by President George H. W. Bush in 1990.

A native of Chicago, Dean Levi earned his A.B. in history and literature, magna cum laude, from Harvard College. He entered Harvard’s graduate program in history, specializing in English legal history and serving as a teaching fellow in English history and literature. He graduated Order of the Coif in 1980 from Stanford Law School, where he was also president of the Stanford Law Review. Following graduation, he was a law clerk to Judge Ben C. Duniway of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then to Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., of the U.S. Supreme Court.

He has served as chair of two Judicial Conference committees by appointment of the Chief Justice. He was chair of the Civil Rules Advisory Committee (2000-2003) and chair of the Standing Committee on the Rules of Practice and Procedure (2003-2007); he has been reappointed to serve as a member of that committee (2009-2012). He was the first president and a founder of the Milton L. Schwartz American Inn of Court, now the Schwartz-Levi American Inn of Court, at the King Hall School of Law, University of California at Davis. He is a member of the Council of the American Law Institute (ALI), was an advisor to the ALI’s Federal Judicial Code Revision Project, and currently serves as an advisor to the Aggregate Litigation project. He was chair of the Ninth Circuit Task Force on Race, Religious and Ethnic Fairness and was an author of the report of the Task Force. He was president of the Ninth Circuit District Judges Association (2003-2005). In 2007, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served on the board of directors of Equal Justice Works from 2010 to 2013 and in 2014 was appointed chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the American Judicial System.

Dean Levi is the co-author of Federal Trial Objections (James Publishing 2002). At Duke Law, he teaches courses on Judicial Behavior and Ethics.