Federal Judge Joins Public Policy Faculty, to Teach in Law, Science, and Technology Program

Leigh Martin May

Posted July 28, 2022

The School of Public Policy (SPP) will introduce its first courses taught by a professor of the practice this fall.

Leigh Martin May, a United States district judge for the Northern District of Georgia, graduated from Georgia Tech in 1993 with a bachelor’s in business management. She returns to her alma mater as a faculty member in SPP, where she will teach in the Law, Science, and Technology (LST) Program. May will instruct PUBP 3000: U.S. Constitutional Issues beginning this fall, teaching students about America’s political and legal systems through the lens of Supreme Court decisions.

“The School of Public Policy prides itself on providing students with transformative educational experiences,” said Cassidy R. Sugimoto, Tom and Marie Patton School Chair. “I am delighted to welcome Judge May to our community, where she will be able to share her expertise not only with public policy majors, but with students across the Institute.”

In her role as a professor of the practice, May will also be available to meet with students interested in the legal profession and give them the opportunity to observe court proceedings, as her courtroom is incredibly close to Georgia Tech’s campus.

The LST program assists students from any major who want to learn more about law. It offers a law, science, and technology minor; certificates in pre-law and intellectual property; pre-law advising for current students and alumni; and programming for students and faculty interested in law.

”The LST Program sets itself apart by providing students with courses taught by practicing attorneys, in an effort to help them understand the legal profession and the practice of law,” said Chad Slieper, PUBP 2002, director of the LST program. “We are thrilled to welcome Judge May, who will provide our students with an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the U.S. Constitution from one of the very judges who is sworn to uphold it.”

In a year populated with high-profile Supreme Court decisions, May wants to teach PUBP 3000 in a way that will allow students to understand how cases reach different courts and why judges and justices might rule the ways they do.

“I hope that after taking this class, students can better analyze and discuss legal issues, as well as have a better understanding of the legal underpinnings that support or contradict their opinions,” she said.

While an established program like LST did not exist when May was first at Georgia Tech, she credits the graduate-level law courses she took as an undergraduate in helping her retain her longtime interest in the law. She specifically remembers taking an environmental law course taught by an industry expert from the Environmental Protection Agency and thinking that her interest in law could one day turn into a career.

May began her career doing economic modeling for power companies, but she left after a few years to pursue her law degree at the University of Georgia. She began her work in law by clerking for a District Court judge before working in private practice, where she mainly did complex civil litigation with a concentration in automotive product liability cases.

When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, May applied to become a United States District Judge, a position that carries a lifetime appointment. Obama nominated May for the position in the Northern District of Georgia in 2013, and she was confirmed by the Senate in 2014. May says that one of her greatest joys is that she now gets to deal with all aspects of the law, hearing both criminal and civil cases.

“It’s the greatest job I can ever have because I get to deal with all facets of the law and be a generalist across so many different areas,” she said. “I also get the opportunity to mentor young lawyers and provide them with the guidance that I valued so much during my clerkship.”

For the Fall 2022 semester, PUBP 3000: U.S. Constitutional Issues will be offered on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

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Grace Wyner

Communications Officer

School of Public Policy | Sam Nunn School of International Affairs