J. Rich Leonard, former United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina, assumed the role of dean at Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law on July 15, 2013. Dean Leonard serves as Campbell Law’s fifth dean, following Dean Melissa Essary (2006-12) and Interim Dean B. Keith Faulkner (2012-13).
Since he began serving as dean of Campbell Law, Leonard has initiated a plethora of beneficial and impactful initiatives that have improved the institution. Under his guidance the law school vastly increased its already generous scholarship program, performed a top-to-bottom review of its curriculum, identified nine specific practice areas, partnered with leading local law firms to sponsor competitive advocacy program student teams, and began exploring the expansion of clinical programs, including the recently established Stubbs Bankruptcy Clinic. Campbell Law has also announced its Campbell Flex admission program, Campbell Law Connections mentorship program, Certificate in Patent Law, and two advanced international certificates with the University of Reading under Leonard’s direction.
Leonard’s work on the bench and at Campbell Law was publicly recognized in September 2014 when North Carolina Lawyers Weekly named Leonard 2014 Lawyer of the Year at the Leaders in the Law awards banquet.
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.
He has served as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina since 1992 acting as Chief Judge from 1999 through 2006. Prior to that time, he was a United States Magistrate Judge (1981-92) and Clerk of Court of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (1979-92). For more than a decade Leonard also acted as a consultant to the U.S. Department of State, working with judiciaries in many developing countries, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa.
Leonard’s professional associations include appointments to the Board of Governors for the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges (2008-11); 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 (1985-86; 1995-98); UNC School of Law (1994-95); and, most recently, Campbell Law (2009-13) prior to becoming dean. In 2012, Campbell Law’s Delta Theta Phi Fraternity presented Leonard with the Judge Robinson O. Everett Award for Legal Excellence.
Dean Leonard is married to Dr. Whitney Jenkins Cain. He is the proud father of three sons and two daughters.