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Spencer to lead W&M law school

Peter Vieth//May 18, 2020

Spencer to lead W&M law school

Peter Vieth//May 18, 2020

Law professor A. Benjamin Spencer has been selected as dean of the College of William & Mary law school. When he takes office in July, he will be the first African-American dean at the law school, according to a university news release.

Spencer is a nationally renowned civil procedure and federal courts expert and current law professor at the University of Virginia. He will succeed Davison M. Douglas, who has directed the law school for 11 years. Douglas is returning to the faculty.

A. Benjamin Spencer
A. Benjamin Spencer

“William & Mary is thrilled to welcome Ben Spencer as our next dean of the law school,” said university President Katherine A. Rowe. “Since the beginning of the search process we sought a leader who values all three aspects of the law: the academy, the bar and the bench. Ben brings that broad view of legal practice, together with a deep appreciation of the ethos of the citizen lawyer that has inspired the oldest law school in the country since its founding.”

Spencer will also be the Chancellor Professor of Law at W&M.

Spencer currently serves as the Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law at U.Va., where he has been a faculty member since 2014. He recently completed a year as the Bennett Boskey Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard.

Before joining the U.Va. faculty, he served as director of the Francis Lewis Law Center and associate dean for research at Washington & Lee University, where he established a reputation as a mentor for younger colleagues, students and early career faculty. Spencer began his career in legal education at the University of Richmond.

Spencer is an author of the iconic Wright & Miller Federal Practice and Procedure treatise. Last year the treatise published its first volume under the name of Wright, Miller & Spencer in recognition of his contributions. He has authored numerous law review articles, book chapters and books, including “Acing Civil Procedure” and “Civil Procedure: A Contemporary Approach,” used widely by professors and students throughout the country.

Allison Orr Larsen, professor of law and chair of the W&M search committee welcomed the selection. “Ben Spencer’s dedication to his students, both in and out of the classroom, was evident to the search committee after calling his references and receiving feedback from our own students who met him in the interview,” Larsen said. “It was clear to us that his commitment to student success will drive his decisions for the law school and the larger William & Mary community.”

At UVa, Spencer has been the faculty advisor for the Black Law Students Association and the Thomas More Society. At the University of Richmond, he was a member of the Student Services Committee and Diversity Committee and worked as faculty advisor to the Honor Court, the Black Law Students Association and the Patrick Henry Chapter of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.

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