Faculty Focus: Professor Leslie Y. Garfield Tenzer

Professor Leslie Tenzer started her journey at Haub Law in 1986 as a Lecturer of Law, before joining officially as a professor in 1990. Most recently, Professor Tenzer was named the Luk-Cummings Family Faculty Scholar (2021-2023) and the James D. Hopkins Professor of Law (2019-2021). Professor Tenzer's scholarship and teaching is known to bridge the worlds of theory and practice, most recently with a particular focus on regulating conduct in the digital age. Her other scholarly and research interests include constitutional regulation, criminal punishment for emotional harm, social media law, and affirmative action regulation. A favorite in the classroom, she has taught a number of courses during her tenure at Haub Law, including Commercial Law Article 2, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Torts, and Social Media Law. In addition, Professor Tenzer is the host of two popular legal podcasts, Law to Fact, and Legal Tenzer: Casual Conversations on Noteworthy Legal Topics. When she isn't in the classroom, you can find Professor Tenzer staying active - whether it be through yoga, golf, and or even a mini-triathalon. Learn more about Professor Tenzer in this Q&A.

You have taught at Haub Law for quite some time, can you tell us about how that started?

I have been working for Haub Law for too long to admit! I began as a legal research and writing professor and then left to work for the city of New York. While there, I drafted legislation including the window bars law and the very first no-smoking law. I returned to Haub Law and have had the good fortune of teaching criminal law, constitutional law, entertainment law, tort law, contracts, sales and now social media law.

Your research interests and areas of expertise include commercial law, social media law, criminal law, and more – what is it about those areas that hold your interest?

I am always interested in what is on the horizon. While in law school, I wrote about reporting early election results. It was an issue at the time because the major networks would report the results from the east coast states before the polls on the west coast states closed and many argued that the practice deterred west coast electors from voting. I wrote a paper on the issue for the law review and it was selected for publication. It was so timely that right before the paper went to print, congress adopted a law prohibiting the reporting of early election returns. Since that time, I have always looked to write about things that are very timely. Social Media fit the bill when I started thinking about it in 2006.

Where do you see the future of social media law heading?

This is such an exciting time for the legality of social media. Until about 2 or 3 years ago, social media posed some interesting issues like, how to sanction jurors who tweet, whether schools can punish students for off campus posts, etc. But more recently, the Supreme Court has had to reckon with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides social media sites with immunity from lawsuits for anything posted on their sites. Two cases last term and four this term deal with Section 230. No one knows how to fix it, and I suspect the Supreme Court will not be able to offer a remedy to those who want to sue a social media website either.

In 2017, you launched your own podcast, Law to Fact, and then more recently, you became the host of Legal Tenzer: Casual Conversations on Noteworthy Legal Topics, which was created in collaboration with West Academic. What peaked your interest in starting a podcast and what is the goal of Legal Tenzer?

I started my podcasts because I wanted to offer students a way to learn while they could work-out or drive in their car. West Academic enjoyed my original podcast, Law to Fact, so much that they asked me to host a podcast for them. That podcast is Legal Tenzer, and I am thrilled that both podcasts, which are available on almost all major podcast platforms, are very well received. In Law to Fact, students enjoyed a candid view on all things law school and relevant legal topics. With Legal Tenzer, I feel fortunate that I get to discuss such a range of timely legal topics with a variety of experts – from artificial intelligence law, to rethinking the law school curriculum, to environmental governance, and more.

Why did you want to become a professor?

At the University of Florida, where I attended law school, 3Ls taught legal research and writing. I loved it so much that I wanted to continue to teach. I spent a year at the Fashion Institute of Technology teaching business law, and that solidified my passion for teaching. I love teaching students and engaging them in the relevancy of the law. When students come to law school, they may not realize the full extent that a subject like torts applies to their everyday life. By the time they leave my class, it is impossible for them to not see a potential tort throughout their daily activities!

You recently published an article, A 180 on Section 230: State Efforts to Erode Social Media Immunity, with a current Haub Law student, how did that collaboration develop?

I was so impressed with my research assistant's research and quality of work, Hayley Margulis, that I thought it was only fair to ask her to partner with me rather than support me. The article writing process became a true collaboration. While I am tasked with teaching my students, I learn so much from them as well. Part of being a successful professor is being open to learning new things.

What advice do you have for law students?

For law students generally, I would say give law school your all. Read all the cases and think about them, take every class you can enroll in. You are only in law school for 3 years and once out, lawyers tend to practice a very discreet area and no longer have the chance to explore new legal issues. Regarding reading the cases, I think students deprive themselves of a proper legal education when they rely on Quimby or other canned briefs. The purpose of law school is to learn to think like a lawyer and the best way to do it (the only way in my opinion) is to read the analysis of cases and think about how judges got to the rule they got to.

Aside from law, how do you spend your spare time?

I love exercise, yoga, golf, knitting, and listening to music. I completed a century ride around Lake Tahoe, and a mini-triathlon before that. They were years ago, but I enjoyed the challenges and never miss the chance to tell people about them!

Learn more about Professor Tenzer.