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W&L Law Prof. Benjamin Spencer Named Assoc. Dean for Research

A. Benjamin Spencer, Professor of Law and Director of the Frances Lewis Law Center at Washington and Lee University School of Law, has been appointed Associate Dean for Research by Dean Nora V. Demleitner.

As director of the Law Center, the independently funded faculty research and support arm of W&L Law which has existed since the mid-1970’s, Spencer oversees the Center’s agenda, which includes sponsoring symposia, enhancing the intellectual life at the Law School, and providing support to faculty in their scholarly endeavors. Demleitner says the additional designation of associate dean for research reflects W&L’s long-standing commitment to scholarly excellence.

“In this expanded role, Dean Spencer will be able to build on the 35 year legacy of the Frances Lewis Law Center by supporting faculty in their efforts to share their work with a wider audience,” says Demleitner. “This administrative position, which is found at nearly all of the top law schools in the nation, will allow W&L to bring even greater attention to the outstanding work our faculty undertakes in shaping the law.”

Spencer joined the W&L faculty in 2008. A distinguished scholar and teacher, Spencer is an expert in the fields of civil procedure and federal jurisdiction. In addition to numerous law review articles, he has authored two books in the area of civil procedure, Acing Civil Procedure and Civil Procedure: A Contemporary Approach. Both are used widely by professors and students throughout the country.

“In my new role I will be working tirelessly on supporting and promoting scholarly legal research at W&L,” says Spencer. “We have highly dedicated and active scholars here; it will be my job to see to it that they have what they need to pursue their research and to ensure that their work gets the visibility needed to have an impact.”

Spencer’s scholarship was included in a recent study analyzing the most-cited law review articles of all time. In addition to producing a listing of the 100 most-cited articles of all time, the authors of the study generated most-cited lists for recent scholarship by year for 1990-2009. Two of Spencer’s articles were included in the recent scholarship lists. “Plausibility Pleading,” in the Boston College Law Review, was the third most-cited article of 2008 and “Understanding Pleading Doctrine,” in the Michigan Law Review, was third on the 2009 list. Spencer is one of only a handful of legal scholars to appear more than one time in the study.

Spencer has also been honored for his teaching. In 2007 he was awarded the Virginia State Council of Higher Education “Rising Star” award, given to the most promising junior faculty member among all academic fields at all colleges and universities in Virginia. Spencer was the first law professor to receive this award.

In addition to his teaching and research, Spencer serves as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. In this capacity, he has argued and won several cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on behalf of the government, including United States v. Stewart, United States v. Hicks, and United States v. Burns. Spencer is also Chair of the Virginia State Bar’s Section on the Education of Lawyers and a member of the West Publishing Company Law School Advisory Board.  He exemplifies the scholar/teacher model at the highest level of excellence.

Prior to joining the Washington and Lee faculty, Spencer was an associate professor of law at the University of Richmond School of Law.  He also formerly worked as an associate in the law firm of Shearman & Sterling and as a Law Clerk to Judge Judith W. Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  Spencer holds a B.A. from Morehouse College, a J.D. from the Harvard Law School and a Master of Science from the London School of Economics.

Established in 1978 with a generous gift from Frances and Sydney Lewis, the Law Center’s mandate is to support faculty research and scholarship that advances legal reform.

News Contact:
Peter Jetton
School of Law Director of Communications
(540) 458-8782