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Law Schools

America’s Oldest Law School Selects A. Benjamin Spencer As The New Dean

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The College of William & Mary has selected its first African American dean in the school’s 241-year history.

Written by:

Lawwly Contributor

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The oldest law school in America, the Marshall–Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary, has selected its first African American dean in the school’s 241-year history.


The law school currently has an enrollment of 645 full-time students in 2018-2019.


In 2019, W&M Law was ranked 24th, according to Above the Law, and tied for 31st place in the latest U.S. News 2021 rankings.


The median GPA for those entering the class of 2022 is 3.76, with a median LSAT of 163.


According to Law School Transparency, the estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $197,520 for residents, and $229,557 for non-residents.


According to the school’s website, President Katherine A. Rowe stated that “William & Mary is thrilled to welcome Ben Spencer as our next dean of the law school…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.


She expressed “W&M’s heartfelt gratitude to Dave Douglas.” A. Benjamin Spencer is a nationally known civil procedure and federal courts expert.


His teaching focus also includes military law. He will leave his previous position as a professor of law at the University of Virginia and will begin his post as dean of William & Mary Law on July 1st. Mr. Spencer succeeds Davison M. Douglas, who served as dean for over 10 years.

Since 2014, Mr. Spencer was a member of the UVA faculty and recently completed a year as the Bennett Boskey Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and currently is the Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law.


Prior to his work at UVA, he served as Director of the Francis Lewis Law Center and associate dean for research at Washington and Lee University.


Mr. Spencer began his career in legal education at the University of Richmond School of Law.


Five years ago, he joined the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps and currently holds the rank of captain. Spencer graduated from Harvard Law School in 2001 as a member of the esteemed Harvard Law Review and received the Judge John R. Brown Award for Excellence in Legal Writing.


Spencer also won the ABA Section of Antitrust Law Student Writing Competition. Among his other awards are ‘best oralist’ in the semi-finals of the Ames Moot Court Competition and ‘best brief’ in the first-year Ames Moot Court Competition.

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