Civil Procedure Treatise Co-Authored by Professor A. Benjamin Spencer Published

A. Benjamin Spencer

A. Benjamin Spencer is the Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law. Photo by Ian Bradshaw

January 7, 2019

Co-authored for the first time by University of Virginia School of Law professor A. Benjamin Spencer, Volume 5A of Wright & Miller’s “Federal Practice and Procedure” was published in November.

Over the past few years, Spencer has taken over responsibilities for updating the discussion of the civil rules of procedure covered in Volumes 5, 5A, 5B and 5C — focused on pleadings — for the massively cited, multivolume reference book series, first published in 1969.

He published his first supplement to Volume 5A in 2016. The previous edition of Volume 5A was published in 2004.

“Since then, the Supreme Court has issued two major decisions affecting pleading doctrine: Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal,” Spencer said. “These decisions raised the general pleading standard, which has implications for the pleading standard for fraud.”

More recently, Spencer has been given responsibility for updating Volume 14C, which covers removal jurisdiction.

In total, “Federal Practice and Procedure” has 91 volumes, which also cover evidence and judicial review of administrative action.

“Because there are so many decisions issued by the federal courts pertaining to the topics covered by the treatise, practitioners and courts themselves rely heavily on ‘Federal Practice and Procedure’ to provide a definitive statement of the law with respect to the procedural rules and statutes that it covers,” Spencer said. “That results in there being a tremendous responsibility on my part to ensure that I accurately reflect the state of the law rather than my own personal views.”

One of the reference’s original authors, New York University law professor Arthur Miller had Spencer as a student at Harvard Law School, where Miller previously taught. He continued to follow Spencer’s career and developed an admiration for Spencer’s scholarship in the pleadings area, which led to Spencer being approved to co-author the volumes.

Spencer said Miller still edits some civil and jurisdiction volumes himself but has been handing some of those volumes off. The treatise’s other primary author, Charles A. Wright, also a prominent legal scholar, died in 2000.

Spencer is the Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law. Joining the Law School faculty in 2014, he has authored two other books in the area of civil procedure: “Acing Civil Procedure” and “Civil Procedure: A Contemporary Approach.” He is a member of the American Law Institute and the West Academic Law School Advisory Board. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts appointed Spencer to the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules of the U.S. Judicial Conference in 2017. He also serves as a reserve officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the U.S. Army.

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