Judge Lee H. Rosenthal was appointed a United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division in 1992. Before then, she was a partner at Baker & Botts in Houston, Texas, where she tried civil cases and handled appeals in the state and federal courts. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago and served as law clerk to Chief Judge John R. Brown, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
In addition to serving as a district court judge for over 22 years, Judge Rosenthal has been invited to sit by designation with courts of appeals around the country, including the Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits. Chief Justice Rehnquist appointed Judge Rosenthal as a member of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Civil Rules in 1996. She served as chair of the Class Actions subcommittee during the development of the 2003 amendments to Rule 23. Chief Justice Rehnquist appointed Judge Rosenthal chair of the Civil Rules Committee in 2003. In 2007, Chief Justice Roberts appointed Judge Rosenthal to chair the Judicial Conference Committee on the Rules of Practice and Procedure, which coordinates and oversees the work of the Advisory Committees for the Civil, Criminal, Evidence, Appellate, and Bankruptcy Rules. That appointment was extended through October 1, 2011.
Judge Rosenthal has been chief judge of the Southern District since November 2016. The Fifth Circuit judges selected her as their District Judge representative on the Judicial Conference of the United States for a 3-year term beginning October 2016.
Judge Rosenthal is the 1st Vice President of The American Law Institute, where she also serves as an Adviser on the project to revise the Model Penal Code sections on sexual assault and on the Conflict of Laws Restatement. She was an Adviser for the Employment Law project and the Aggregate Litigation project and was an Adviser for the Transnational Rules of Civil Procedure project. In 2007, she was elected to the ALI Council and from 2011 to 2016 was Chair of the Program Committee.
Judge Rosenthal has taught, written, and lectured extensively, concentrating on topics in complex litigation and civil procedure, including class actions and electronic discovery. She has taught Federal Courts at the University of Houston Law Center and lectured or taught recently at Yale, Duke, Cornell, Syracuse, Louisiana State University, and University of Texas law schools. She also teaches a summer class for state, federal, and international judges at Duke University School of Law.
Judge Rosenthal served the allowable term on the Board of Trustees of Rice University in Houston, Texas from 2008 to 2016, chairing the Academic Affairs Committee. She currently serves on the Board of the Baylor College of Medicine, and is on the Duke University School of Law Board of Visitors. She has served as president of the District Judges’ Association of the Fifth Circuit. Judge Rosenthal is the 2012 recipient of the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Award for Professionalism and Ethics given by the American Inns of Court and is a 3-time recipient of the Trial Judge of the Year Award from the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists. In 2014, Judge Rosenthal was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Judge Rosenthal and her husband have four daughters.