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Supported by more than 50 law and economics professors, Professor Shmuel Leshem continues legal fight against scandal-ridden university

LOS ANGELES (January 28, 2020) – Former University of Southern California (USC) law professor Shmuel Leshem recently filed an appeal against the university, alleging USC Gould Law School botched his tenure review and compromised the integrity of the scholarly process. The legal filing in California Second District Court of Appeal states that USC intentionally violated numerous tenure-review standards and rules and conducted a fundamentally unfair grievance hearing. Leshem is represented by Stewart and Musell, LLP.

Leshem was a successful and well-regarded law professor at USC, who was hired on tenure track in 2006. Promoted to associate professor in 2009, Leshem’s tenure review began in mid-2011. According to legal filings, a law-school tenure reviewer improperly solicited Leshem’s confidential peer-review reports on false pretenses and distributed them without his knowledge or consent. In breach of trust and a documented promise not to use the reports for tenure evaluation, law-school tenure reviewers subsequently used the reports to negatively appraise Leshem’s scholarly writings and to discredit the external letters of evaluation requested in accordance with standard procedures. According to filings, a USC grievance panel later “whitewashed the law school’s wrongdoings.”

Law and Economics Professors from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Israel have signed an open letter to USC’s leadership, voicing concerns over the asserted irregularities in Leshem’s tenure review process and “calling on [USC] to investigate and rectify Leshem’s tenure-denial case and thereby shore up norms of academic integrity, privacy and fair process, thus safeguarding the promotion process and securing the peer-review system.” Signatories include professors from NYU, Columbia, Stanford, Texas, Harvard, Tel Aviv University and others.

Leshem has been fighting this legal battle with USC for more than six years. Plagued by multiple scandals in recent years, USC has been widely criticized for its central role in the ‘Varsity Blues’ college-admissions scandal. Leshem said he had hoped USC’s new administration would show commitment to fairness and integrity for all tenure candidates by resolving his case.

“Breaking its own rules, USC enabled law school professors to exercise capricious judgment and seal the fate of an aspiring scholar,” states the filing’s conclusion.

The legal filing and summary are available at



Contact: John P. David