J. Rich Leonard, United States Bankruptcy Court Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina, has been appointed as the next dean of Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law. Leonard’s appointment, effective July 15, 2013, fills the position currently held by Interim Dean Keith Faulkner.
“Judge Leonard’s wealth of experience in judicial leadership will prove tremendously beneficial to our students and faculty,” said Campbell President Jerry Wallace. “His commitment to academic excellence and the highest standards of legal education will help shape the future of Campbell Law School for years to come and we are excited to welcome him to this new role.”
A native of Davidson County, Leonard is a 1971 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He earned a master’s degree in education from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1973, and then earned a law degree from Yale Law School in 1976.
J. Rich Leonard
He has served as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina since 1992 and as Chief Judge from 1999 through 2006. Prior to that time, he was a United States Magistrate Judge (1981-1992) and Clerk of Court of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (1979-1992). For more than a decade, Leonard also acted as a consultant to the U.S. Department of State to work with judiciaries in many developing countries.
Leonard’s professional associations include appointments to the Board of Governors for the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges (2008-2011); Fellow at the American College of Bankruptcy (2005–present); and leadership roles with the Wake County Bar Association and North Carolina Bar Association, among other legal organizations.
His judicial work and expertise have earned him both state and national recognition. In 2011, the American Bar Association awarded Leonard with the Robert B. Yegge Award for Outstanding Contribution to Judicial Administration. He is the 1992 recipient of the Director’s Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Federal Judiciary. In 2011, he was selected as the Editor in Chief of the American Bankruptcy Law Journal.
Leonard has also been active in the classroom. He has worked as an adjunct professor for North Carolina Central University School of Law (1985-1986; 1995-1998); UNC School of Law (1994-1995); and, most recently, Campbell’s law school (2009-present). In 2012, Campbell Law’s Delta Theta Phi Fraternity presented Leonard with the Judge Robinson O. Everett Award for Legal Excellence.
“Although I take enormous pride in my tenure with the federal courts, I am both humbled and elated to be offered this unique opportunity,” said Leonard of the appointment. “I believe in this law school. I appreciate the focus on rigor and discipline, and the emphasis on the practical aspects of law practice.”
“We could not be more pleased to welcome Judge Rich Leonard as the next dean of Campbell Law School,” said Benjamin N. Thompson, chair of the Campbell University Board of Trustees. “He brings a wealth of administrative experience, scholarly work and broad respect from his years of service on the federal bench. He will help take our program to the next level regionally and nationally.”
Founded in 1976 in Buies Creek, the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law relocated to downtown Raleigh in 2009 where it has thrived. Campbell Law outscored all other law schools in the state on the North Carolina Bar Exam in July 2012. It was also recognized in the top tier of law schools by U.S. News & World Report in March.