A. Benjamin Spencer

  • Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law

An expert in the field of civil procedure and federal jurisdiction, Professor A. Benjamin Spencer joined the University of Virginia School of Law in 2014. 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 and a member of the West Academic Law School Advisory Board. He serves 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 2011-12 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)


  • J.D.
    Harvard Law School
  • M.Sc.
    London School of Economics
  • B.A.
    Morehouse College

SSRN Publications

Books (Including Monographs and Treatises):

Acing Civil Procedure: A Checklist Approach to Solving Procedural Problems (West Academic, 5th ed. 2019).

5-5C Federal Practice & Procedure (with Wright & Miller) (Thomson Reuters, 3d ed.; 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Supplements).

5A Federal Practice & Procedure (with Wright & Miller) (Thomson Reuters, 4th ed. 2018).   

Civil Procedure: A Contemporary Approach (West Academic, 5th ed. 2018).

"Obtaining Mareva-type Provisional Relief in New York State and Federal Courts" (with Jordan Greenblatt) in Commercial Injunctions (Steven Gee, QC, ed., 5th ed. 2014). 

Articles and Other Scholarly Publications:

"Out of the Quandary: Personal Jurisdiction Over Absent Class Member Claims Explained," 39 The Review of Litigation (forthcoming 2019).
"Pleading Conditions of the Mind: Rule 9(b) Rightly Understood," 41 Cardozo L. Rev. (forthcoming 2019).
"The Territorial Reach of the Federal Courts," 71 Florida L. Rev. 979 (2019).

“Substance, Procedure, and The Rules Enabling Act,” 66 UCLA L. Rev. 654 (2019).

“Understanding the Department of Defense’s Policy Regarding Transgender Servicemembers"
The Army Lawyer, Feb. 2017.  

“A Father’s Lament,” National L.J., Sept. 29, 2017 (op-ed).

“Chief Justice John Roberts and the Loss of Access to Justice,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, Jan. 14, 2016 (op-ed).

“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).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Rationalizing Cost Allocation in Civil Discovery," 34 Review of Litigation (2015).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Supporting and Promoting Scholarly Life in Turbulent Times," 31 Touro L. Rev. 25 (2014).

"Pleading and Access to Justice: A Response to Twiqbal Apologists," 60 UCLA L. Rev. 1710 (2013).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Class Actions, Heightened Commonality, and Declining Access to Justice," 93 B.U. L. Rev. 441 (2013).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"The Law School Critique in Historical Perspective," 69 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1949 (2012).

"The Judicial Power and the Inferior Federal Courts: Exploring the Constitutional Vesting Thesis," 46 Ga. L. Rev. 1 (2011).

"The Preservation Obligation: Regulating And Sanctioning Pre-Litigation Spoliation in Federal Court," 79 Fordham L. Rev. 2005 (2011).

"The Restrictive Ethos in Civil Procedure," 78 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 353 (2010).

Pleading in State Courts after Twombly and Iqbal, Pound Civil Justice Institute 2010 Forum for State Appellate Court Judges.

"Nationwide Personal Jurisdiction for Our Federal Courts," 87 Denv. U. L. Rev. 325 (2010). (Symposium on Civil Justice Reform).

"Iqbal and the Slide Toward Restrictive Procedure," 14 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 185 (2010).

"Understanding Pleading Doctrine," 108 Mich. L. Rev. 1 (2009).

"Pleading Civil Rights Claims in the Post-Conley Era," 52 How. L.J. 99 (2008).

"Plausability Pleading," 49 B.C. L. Rev. 431 (2008).

"Anti-Federalist Procedure," 64 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 233 (2007).

"Due Process and Punitive Damages: The Error of Federal Excessiveness Jurisprudence," 79 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1085 (2006).

"Jurisdiction to Adjudicate: A Revised Analysis," 73 U. Chi. L. Rev. 617 (2006).

"Jurisdiction and the Internet: Returning to Traditional Principles to Analyze Network-Mediated Contacts," 2006 U. Ill. L. Rev. 71 (2006).

"Mistretta v. United States," in The Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties (Routledge, 2006) (solicited entry for legal encyclopedia).    

"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 by 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).  

"Policing Diversity: Lessons From Lambeth, British Home Office, Policing and Reducing Crime Unit, Paper 121" (2000).

"Recent Case Comment, Inter Medical Supplies, Ltd. v. EBI Medical Systems, Inc.," 113 Harv. L. Rev. 627 (1999).

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