Prof. A. Benjamin Spencer, Assoc. Dean for Research and Director for the Frances Lewis Law Center at Washington and Lee University School of Law, has been elected to the American Law Institute, the most prestigious law reform body in the U.S.
The American Law Institute (ALI) is focused on producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law. It has a membership 4300 judges, lawyers, and teachers from all areas of the U.S. and many foreign companies.
Among its projects, the ALI publishes restatements of basic legal subjects to inform the legal profession of what the law is, or should be, in a particular subject. One such restatement, focused on the law of restitution and unjust enrichment, was the focus of a recent symposium hosted by W&L 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.
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.
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.
Professor 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, where he was a Marshall Scholar.
New ALI members are selected based on professional achievement and demonstrated interest in improving the law. Spencer joins several other W&L Law faculty who are already members, including professors Doug Rendleman, Rick Kirgis, Margaret Howard, Tim Jost, Lyman Johnson, Brian Murchison, Erik Luna, Robin Wilson and Dean Nora Demleitner.