Almost nothing was typical about the way in which Benjamin Spencer landed his new gig as dean of the College of William & Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law—a job he will assume on July 1.

Spencer did an in-person preliminary interview in early March just as COVID-19 began to emerge in the United States, and shortly thereafter the entire hiring process moved online. William & Mary announced Spencer’s appointment this week, making him the first new dean appointment at a top 50 law school during the coronavirus pandemic. (He will also be the first African American dean at the wider university.) Spencer, who is currently on the faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law and is an expert on civil procedure and federal jurisdiction, is well aware that the job he is set to take over from longtime William & Mary law dean Davison Douglas will look quite different from the one he originally envisioned, thanks to COVID-19. caught up with Spencer May 21 to discuss his unusual interview process, what classes will look like in the fall, and what he has learned from moonlighting as an Army JAG. His answers have been edited for length.

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