Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 44

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

A. Benjamin Spencer
Continuing a Legacy of Service
By John Murph

I

n mid-May, when William & Mary
Law School announced that
A. Benjamin Spencer would
become its next dean, Spencer
focused little on the historymaking moment. Instead, he
reflected on his family's legacy.

As Spencer was preparing to assume the
deanship, the country had erupted in protests
following the killing of George Floyd in
Minneapolis, renewing calls for police reform
and an end to systemic racism. Many corporations declared their allyship with the Black Lives
Matter movement, and educational institutions,
including law schools, have become part of
the social reckoning.
"It's definitely an interesting time. I think law
schools have always been places that emphasize justice, fairness, equity. Those are principles
that the legal profession prides itself on, but
too often the rhetoric doesn't match the
reality," Spencer says. Now is the time for law
schools to start living up to their ideals, he
adds. "I hope it's a sea change in that law
schools will now be able to fully commit
to training people who are going to be
advocates for justice in society and do that
unapologetically."

TEACHING & MILITARY CAREER
Spencer grew up in various places in Virginia
before his family settled in Hampton in 1980.

44 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

William & Mary Law School

His father, James R. Spencer, was the first
African American judge on the U.S. District
Court for the Eastern District of Virginia; his
grandfather, Dr. Adam S. Arnold, was the first
African American professor at Notre Dame
University. "I just felt like I was part of a tradition
of family firsts for African Americans in important fields," Spencer says. On July 1, Spencer
became the first African American dean of the
oldest law school in the country.

After his parents divorced, his mother, Alicia
Spencer, an elementary school principal in
Newport News for more than 30 years, raised
him as an only child.
Spencer recalls an upbringing that included
being in the Cub Scouts, earning his black belt
in karate, playing basketball, and serving on his
high school's varsity tennis team. He was valedictorian at his high school. "Hampton was a
great place to be raised in; it was very diverse
because it was a military town and it had good
values," he says.
Spencer's father lived close by in Richmond.
"So I saw him all the time. My grandparents
moved to Hampton, and so did one of my
aunts and cousins. I had a good family unit.
My parents and grandparents were great role
models," he says.
After high school, Spencer attended More-
house College, where he graduated with a

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

bachelor's degree in political science. He went
on to attend the London School of Economics
for a master's degree in criminal justice policy.
He graduated from Harvard Law School in 2001
as a member of the prestigious Harvard Law
Review.
Spencer joined the University of Richmond
School of Law faculty in 2004. He later served
as director of the Frances Lewis Law Center and
associate dean for research at Washington &
Lee University School of Law. Starting in 2014,
Spencer taught civil procedure, federal civil
litigation, and military law at the University
of Virginia School of Law. He was the Justice
Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor
of Law at UVA from 2018 to 2020.
Military service also runs in the dean's family
- Spencer's grandfather served in Europe
during World War II, and his father was in the
U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General's



Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Family Law Assistance Network feature
An Avalanche of Evictions feature
Pro Bono Partnerships Forged in Crisis feature
Help for Pro Se Litigants Feature
Qualified Immunity feature
Taking Legal Support to the Streets feature
Taking the Stand Turning off the White Noise of Systemic Racism
Taking the Stand Situational Principles Aren't Really Principles
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight - A. Benjamin Spencer
Member Spotlight - Amber Harding
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Family Law Assistance Network feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - An Avalanche of Evictions feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Pro Bono Partnerships Forged in Crisis feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Help for Pro Se Litigants Feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Qualified Immunity feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking Legal Support to the Streets feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking the Stand Turning off the White Noise of Systemic Racism
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking the Stand Situational Principles Aren't Really Principles
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Member Spotlight - A. Benjamin Spencer
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Member Spotlight - Amber Harding
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 46
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 50
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 54
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 57
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 58
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 59
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 60
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 61
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 62
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 63
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 64
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 65
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 66
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 67
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover4
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