Senior Lecturing Fellow
E. Carol Spruill is a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law School and until her resignation in December 2008 was the Associate Dean for Public Interest and Pro Bono. She has taught a seminar/clinic on Poverty Law each spring semester since 1993. She began work at Duke Law School in 1991 to establish its Pro Bono Project. 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 then new Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono. Duke University presented her with its Blue Ribbon Diversity Award in 2006.
Spruill received both her undergraduate degree, in Political Science and with honors in American Studies 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 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 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 claims. After eight years of representing clients in Legal Services, in 1984 she became Deputy Director of Legal Services of North Carolina, then the third largest Legal Services program in the country, and served in that position from 1984 until 1991.
She 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.
Spruill has served on numerous state and 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. She was appointed to the National Advisory Committee of Equal Justice Works in 2004 and served until 2008. She has been a member of the North Carolina Editorial Review Board, an affiliate of the American Forum, since 2007.