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Suzanne Reynolds (JD ’77) named dean of Wake Forest University School of Law

Suzanne Reynolds (JD ’77) will become the next Dean of the Wake Forest University School of Law, effective July 1.

Reynolds, who joined the Wake Forest law faculty in 1981, has served as interim dean for the past year. She is the first woman to head the law school.

Widely respected for her scholarship, teaching and public service, Reynolds served as executive associate dean for academic affairs from 2010 to 2014.

“During much of my year as interim dean, people across our constituencies urged me to consider the position,” said Reynolds.  “I resisted, but amazing students, faculty, staff, brother and sister alumni, and friends of the law school and University convinced me. I am especially happy to serve as the first woman dean, and I look forward to building on all that we have accomplished over the past year.”

Known nationally for her expertise in family law, she was a principal drafter of statutes that modernized the laws regarding both alimony and adoption.  She authored a three-volume treatise on North Carolina family law that has become the authoritative source for law students, lawyers and judges.

“As executive associate dean and interim dean, Suzanne Reynolds has proven herself to be well qualified to lead Wake Forest School of Law,” said Wake Forest University President Nathan O. Hatch. “She is a wonderful mentor and model for our law students, exemplifying the blend of research and practice that distinguishes the school. She has the vision and experience to ensure Wake Forest will continue to set the highest standards in legal education.”

Reynolds earned the Joseph Branch Teaching Excellence Award in 1994 in recognition of her talent as a professor. In addition to family law, she teaches contracts and professional responsibility. Her research has focused on outcomes in high-conflict custody disputes.

Committed to public service, she co-founded a domestic violence program that received national recognition by the American Bar Association for providing legal assistance to the poor.  She has served for the past four years on the Advisory Board for the Task Force on Domestic Violence for the N.C. Administrative Office of Courts and has previously held a number of leadership positions in the legal community, including a four-year term on the board of directors of the Children’s Law Center of North Carolina and two terms on the board of directors of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys.

Reynolds has earned many awards for her contributions to the legal profession and, on June 19, she will receive the H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award, which recognizes contributions to professionalism and the practice of law, from the North Carolina Bar Association. In 2010 she was appointed by then-Governor Beverly Perdue to the state’s Uniform Law Commission.

Reynolds was the recipient of a Distinguished Woman of the Year award presented by Governor Hunt in 1998 and of the Gwyneth B. Davis Award for Public Service presented by N.C. Association of Women Attorneys in 1996. Reynolds was a candidate for the North Carolina Supreme Court in November 2008, narrowly losing her bid for that seat.

Before teaching,  she served four years in the Greensboro law firm of Smith Moore Smith Schell and Hunter (now Smith Moore Leatherwood) in civil-litigation practice, working primarily on business and real property issues.

“Suzanne blends top-flight legal research, brilliance in the classroom, and widely-recognized applied legal expertise in ways that make her a terrific choice to lead the School of Law,” said Rogan Kersh, Wake Forest provost and chair of the search committee. “Under her already-proven leadership, we have high confidence that the School will successfully navigate the changing landscape of legal education.”

Reynolds earned a J.D. from Wake Forest, an M.A. from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a B.A. from Meredith College. You can learn more about her here.