A. Benjamin Spencer
Dean and Trustee Professor
Civil Procedure; Class Actions; Federal Courts; Jurisdiction; Military Law
Representative Professional Activities and Achievements
An expert in the field of civil procedure and federal jurisdiction, Professor A. Benjamin Spencer became Dean of William & Mary Law School on July 1, 2020. Beginning in the 2021-2022 academic year, Dean Spencer was awarded the Marshall-Wythe School of Law Foundation Trustee Professorship.
Prior to becoming Dean of William & Mary Law School, Spencer served on the faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law, first as the Earle K. Shawe Professor of Law (2014–2017), as a Professor of Law (2017-2018) and as the Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law (2018–2020). During the 2019-2020 academic year, he was the Bennett Boskey Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.
Spencer 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. He is also an author of Wright & Miller's Federal Practice & Procedure, a multi-volume treatise that is the preeminent reference work on civil procedure topics for practitioners, courts and professors. Chief Justice John Roberts recently appointed Spencer to the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules of the U.S. Judicial Conference.
Spencer previously served as professor, associate dean for research and director of the Frances Lewis Law Center at Washington and Lee University School of Law. He is a member of the American Law Institute, a member of the West Academic Law School Advisory Board, and a member of the British Ambassador’s Advisory Council. He formerly served on the Virginia State Bar Council and has served as a special assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, occasionally handling appellate cases in the Fourth Circuit on behalf of the government on a pro bono basis. 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. He was the first law professor to receive this award.
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 Shearman & Sterling and as a law clerk to Judge Judith W. Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He visited Virginia Law during the 2011-2012 school year.
Spencer holds a B.A. from Morehouse College, a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a master of science from the London School of Economics, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He also serves as an officer in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the U.S. Army (Reserve).
Scholarship Profile: Pressing for Fairness in Federal Civil Litigation (Virginia Journal 2016)
In the News
- A. Benjamin Spencer, Calls to Eliminate Bar Exams Are Premature, Bloomberg Law, Aug. 3, 2021. Online.
- A. Benjamin Spencer, Law Schools, Law Firms Must Share Responsibility for Diversity, Bloomberg Law, Jul. 21, 2021. Online.
- A. Benjamin Spencer, We must restore Americans' faith in our federal bench, The Hill, Nov. 20, 2020. Online.
- Katherine Rowe and A. Benjamin Spencer, How College Leaders Can Help Restore Civil Discourse After Election Opinion, Insider Highered Education, Nov. 3, 2020. Online.
- A. Benjamin Spencer, Opinion: Those who can vote are duty-bound to do so, The Virginia-Pilot, Oct. 24, 2020. Online.
- A. Benjamin Spencer, Yearning for an Independent Federal Judiciary, Newsweek, Sept. 30, 2020. Online.
- Jesse Eisinger, Walmart Hid That I Was Under Criminal Investigation for Its Opioid Sales, Lawyers Say, Pro Publica, Apr. 13, 2020. Online.
- A. Benjamin Spencer, Abortion case may not overturn Roe, but could effectively nullify it, The Hill, Mar. 5, 2020. Online.
- A. Benjamin Spencer, Justices make the tough — but right — call in cross-border shooting case, The Hill, Feb. 28, 2020. Online.
- Leonard Lee, Special Podcast Series: Wright & Miller’s Federal Practice & Procedure Marks 50 Years of Publication – episode 3: The Evolution & Future of Personal Jurisdiction & Pleadings, Thomson Reuters, Sept. 12, 2019. Online.
- Perry Cooper & Greg Stohr, Supreme Court Backs Businesses, Curbs Class Arbitration (2), Bloomberg Law, Apr. 24, 2020. Online.
- Scott Goss, Delaware Republican may have violated federal policy by announcing bid for U.S. Congress, The News Journal, Apr. 10, 2018. Online.
- Jaclyn Diaz, Fiat Chrysler Workers Want Judge to Re-Examine UAW Lawsuit, Bloomberg BNA, Feb. 2, 2018. Online.
- Crimesider Staff, Texas church shooting: How was Devin Patrick Kelley discharged from the Air Force?, CBS News, Nov. 6, 2017. Online.
- A. Benjamin Spencer, A Father's Lament, National Law Journal, Sept. 29, 2017. Online.
- Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Spencer to serve on rules panel, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, May 17, 2017. Online.
- Bruce Kaufman & Nora Freeman Engstrom, Bill Targets ‘Frivolous’ Suits, But Critics Say It Misses Mark, Bloomberg BNA, Apr. 28, 2017. Online.
- A. Benjamin Spencer, Spencer: Chief Justice John Roberts and the Loss of Access to Justice, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Jan. 14, 2016. Online.
- Eric Williamson, UVA Law Professor Benjamin Spencer Sworn In to JAG Corps, UVA Law News, Nov. 2, 2015. Online.
- Changing the Rules on Access to Justice, American Constitution Society, Jun. 12, 2015. Online.
- Delece Smith-Barrow, As Law Schools Undergo Reform, Some Relax LSAT Requirements, U.S. News & World Report, Apr. 2, 2015. Online.
- Reynolds Hutchins, Parties in Suit Against VIT Continue to Wait, Inside Business, Dec. 19, 2014. Online.
- Profs: SCOTUS Unlikely to Hear Asbestos Case On Federal Officer Removal Jurisdiction, Bloomberg BNA, Sept. 23, 2014. Online.
- Minnesota Supreme Court Refuses to Apply Iqbal, Twombly Standard to State Pleadings, The United States Law Week, Aug. 12, 2014. Online.
- Reynolds Hutchins, Local Taxi Companies Staying Out of Uber, Lyft Lawsuit, Inside Business, Jul. 25, 2014. Online.
- W&L Law Professor Ben Spencer Logs Another Fourth Circuit Victory, Washington and Lee University, Sept. 6, 2011.
- Acing Civil Procedure: A Checklist Approach to Solving Procedural Problems (West Academic Publ'g 5th ed. 2019).
- 5-5C Federal Practice & Procedure (Thomson Reuters 3d ed. 2016) (with Wright & Miller) (2017, 2018, 2019 Supplements).
- 5A Federal Practice & Procedure (Thomson Reuters 4th ed. 2018) (with Wright & Miller).
- Civil Procedure: A Contemporary Approach (West Academic 5th ed. 2018).
- Policing Diversity: Lessons From Lambeth (British Home Office, Policing and Crime Unit 2000). Online.
Articles and Book Chapters
- Pleading Conditions of the Mind: Rule 9(b) Rightly Understood, 41 Cardozo L. Rev. 115 (2020).
- Out of the Quandary: Personal Jurisdiction Over Absent Class Member Claims Explained, 39 Rev. Litig. 31 (2019). SSRN.
- Substance, Procedure, and The Rules Enabling Act, 66 UCLA L. Rev. 654 (2019). SSRN.
- The Territorial Reach of the Federal Courts, 71 Fla. L. Rev. 979 (2019). SSRN.
- Understanding the Department of Defense’s Policy Regarding Transgender Servicemembers, 2017 The Army Lawyer 4 (2017). Online.
- A Father’s Lament, Nat'l L.J. (2017) (op-ed). Online.
- Rationalizing Cost Allocation in Civil Discovery, 34 Rev. Litig. (2015). SSRN.
- The Forms Had a Function: Rule 84 and the Appendix of Forms as Guardians of the Liberal Ethos in Civil Procedure, 15 Nev. L.J. 1113 (2015). SSRN.
- Obtaining Mareva-type Provisional Relief, in New York State and Federal Courts in Commercial Injunctions (Steven Gee, QC, ed., 5th ed. 2014) (with Jordan Greenblatt).
- Supporting and Promoting Scholarly Life in Turbulent Times, 31 Touro L. Rev. 25 (2014). Online.
- Class Actions, Heightened Commonality, and Declining Access to Justice, 93 B.U. L. Rev. 441 (2013). SSRN.
- Pleading and Access to Justice: A Response to Twiqbal Apologists, 60 UCLA L. Rev. 1710 (2013). SSRN.
- The Law School Critique in Historical Perspective, 69 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1949 (2012). SSRN.
- The Judicial Power and the Inferior Federal Courts: Exploring the Constitutional Vesting Thesis, 46 Ga. L. Rev. 1 (2011). SSRN.
- The Preservation Obligation: Regulating and Sanctioning Pre-Litigation Spoliation in Federal Court, 79 Fordham L. Rev. 2005 (2011). SSRN.
- Iqbal and the Slide Toward Restrictive Procedure, 14 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 185 (2010). SSRN.
- Nationwide Personal Jurisdiction for Our Federal Courts, 87 Denv. U. L. Rev. (2010) (Symposium on Civil Justice Reform). Online.
- Pleading in State Courts after Twombly and Iqbal, Pound Civil Justice Institute 2010 Forum for State Appellate Court Judges, (2010). SSRN.
- The Restrictive Ethos in Civil Procedure, 78 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 353 (2010). SSRN.
- Understanding Pleading Doctrine, 108 Mich. L. Rev. 1 (2009). SSRN.
- Plausability Pleading, 49 B.C. L. Rev. 431 (2008). SSRN.
- Pleading Civil Rights Claims in the Post-Conley Era, 52 How. L.J. 99 (2008). SSRN.
- Anti-Federalist Procedure, 64 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 233 (2007). SSRN.
- Due Process and Punitive Damages: The Error of Federal Excessiveness Jurisprudence, 79 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1085 (2006). SSRN.
- Jurisdiction and the Internet: Returning to Traditional Principles to Analyze Network-Mediated Contacts, 2006 U. Ill. L. Rev. 71 (2006). SSRN.
- Jurisdiction to Adjudicate: A Revised Analysis, 73 U. Chi. L. Rev. 617 (2006). SSRN.
- Terminating Calder: 'Effects' Based Jurisdiction in the Ninth Circuit after Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 26 Whittier L. Rev. 197 (2004).
- Street Drinking in Camberwell: A Preliminary Assessment. London: Prepared for the London Borough of Southwark Grants & Community Safety Unit , The London School of Economics and South Bank University (2003).
- Antitrust and the Information Age: Section 2 Monopolization Analyses in the New Economy, 114 Harv. L. Rev. 1623 (2001).
- Recent Case Comment, Inter Medical Supplies, Ltd. v. EBI Medical Systems, Inc., 113 Harv. L. Rev. 627 (1999).
- Chief Justice John Roberts and the Loss of Access to Justice, Richmond Times-Dispatch (January 14, 2016) (op ed.). Online.
- Minstretta v. United States, in The Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties (Routledge 2006) (solicited entry for legal encyclopedia).