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August 20, 2008

Profile: E. Carol Spruill

Spruille E.Carol Spruill is Associate Dean for Public Interest and Pro Bono and a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law School. She has taught a seminar/clinic on Poverty Law every year since 1993. She began work at Duke Law School in 1991 to establish its Pro Bono Project. In the fall of 1993, she initiated the Public Interest Speakers Series and Book Club. She served as Assistant Dean and then Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 1996 to 1999. In 1999, she became Duke Law's first dean of its new Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono .

Dean Spruill received both her undergraduate degree with honors in 1971 and her law school degree in 1975 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and she studied law at Oxford University in the summer of 1974. She clerked for the Superior Court judges of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1975-1976.

In 1976, she received a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellowship to begin her work as an attorney with Legal Services. She represented hundreds of clients on cases in areas including domestic violence, bankruptcies, evictions, consumer finance, government benefits and employment, and she also engaged in law reform work. She lobbied on debtor protection laws and child support enforcement laws, and helped draft North Carolina's first domestic violence legislation in 1978. She was on the board in two counties in initial efforts to start groups to protect battered women. She was co-counsel in Carter v. Morrow, one of the first federal class actions against the Child Support Enforcement (IV-D) Agency for failing to assist those not on welfare with their child support cases.

After eight years of representing clients in Legal Services, in 1984 she became Deputy Director of Legal Services of North Carolina, the third largest Legal Services program in the country, and served in that position from 1984 until 1991.

She also has worked as a consultant for Legal Services programs in New Jersey, Ohio and North Carolina, and taught for the Arkansas-based Southeast Training Center's Management Institute. She was a consultant for the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation for five years as coordinator of its Sabbatical Program that awards grants to nonprofit leaders.

Dean Spruill has been active in several bar organizations. She served on the founding steering committee that incorporated the N.C. Association of Women Attorneys in the late 1970's and received its Public Service Award in 1984. She has been active in the Wake County Bar Association and on the board of the Tenth Judicial District Bar Association. She was a member of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and was on the national board of the Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellowship program.

Dean Spruill has long been a member of the N.C. Bar Association and has been active on several committees, including its Task Force on Legal Education. She was co-chair of its Law School Liaison Committee for three years, and remains a member of it. In 1998-99, she served as a Vice-President of the North Carolina Bar Association. She also serves on the NCBA’s Public Service Advisory Committee. In 2007-2008, she will chair the Loan Repayment Assistance Program Committee as part of the NCBA President’s initiative on access to the civil justice system. 

Dean Spruill has served on numerous civic boards. In 1982, she was appointed to North Carolina's Child Day Care Commission, first by Lt. Gov. Bob Jordan and later by Gov. James Hunt, where she served eight years and advocated to abolish corporal punishment in day care centers and to lower child staff ratios. She was an incorporator and the first Board Chair of the N.C. Association of Nonprofit Organizations. She was a member of the board of Carolina Legal Assistance, a legal services program for people with mental disabilities from 1996 to 2004 and has served as its Vice-President.

In 2006, Dean Spruill was appointed by the North Carolina Chief Justice to the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission, and she serves as chair of its Working Group on Education. She was appointed to the National Advisory Committee of Equal Justice Works in 2004.

Dean Spruill lives in Raleigh with her husband, attorney Jack Nichols. They have two sons, one of whom is a graduate of Duke Law School.

-Taken from Dean Spruill's Duke faculty profile.  E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu

August 20, 2008 in Legal Academy Info | Permalink

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