Meredith College alumna Suzanne Reynolds 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.
Reynolds is a 1971 graduate of Meredith College. She served on the Meredith College Board of Trustees from 2001-04, and was a speaker for Meredith’s 1991 Women and the Law panel discussion, which featured Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Reynolds is a recipient of the Meredith College Distinguished Alumna Award.
Known nationally for her expertise in family law, Reynolds 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.