RALEIGH — J. Rich Leonard, former United States Bankruptcy Court Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina, assumed the role of dean of Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law today.
Leonard serves as Campbell Law’s fifth dean, following Dean Melissa Essary (2006-12) and Interim Dean Keith Faulkner (2012-13).
"I am elated that the opportunity to lead this vibrant institution has come my way,” Leonard said.
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 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 a 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 Law (2009-2013). In 2012, Campbell Law’s Delta Theta Phi Fraternity presented Leonard with the Judge Robinson O. Everett Award for Legal Excellence.