Leo Schmidt trained in History of Art, Classical Archaeology and History at the universities of Freiburg and Munich. He earned his doctorate in 1980 at Freiburg University with a thesis on the architectural history of Holkham Hall (UK).
From 1980-96, he worked as a historic buildings investigator for the State Conservation Office of Baden-Württemberg. In 1996 he became Professor for Architectural Conservation at the Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU) in Cottbus. He was Course Director of the Master Programme Heritage Conservation and Site Management, run jointly with Helwan University Cairo, and he taught in the Master Programme World Heritage Studies at BTU.

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Although he retired in early 2020, he is still involved with research and doctoral training at BTU. Leo has published on 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century architecture, notably British country houses, but also on difficult heritage such as the Berlin Wall and the Peenemünde rocket site. He has authored various conservation management and site management plans.

He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.