Campbell Law School Dean J. Rich Leonard receives Order of Long Leaf Pine

Photo of N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, Dean J. Rich Leonard and N.C. First Lady Kristin Cooper

RALEIGH – The Honorable Secretary of State Elaine Marshall ‘81 and First Lady of North Carolina Kristin Cooper ‘82 presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine to Campbell Law School Dean J. Rich Leonard during a special ceremony celebrating Leonard’s 10th anniversary of leading the law school on Thursday, Oct. 19, at the City Club in downtown Raleigh.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is the highest honor awarded by the Governor’s office and is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to North Carolina. Some of the guidelines by which recipients are selected for the award include significant contributions to communities and many years of service to an organization. 

Leonard, whose many accomplishments were recently recognized in an article in USA Today, joined the law school in July 2013 making him the longest serving law school dean of the state’s seven law schools and one of the longest tenured law deans in the country.

Since taking the helm, Leonard has significantly increased the credentials and number of incoming law students, performed a top-to-bottom review of its curriculum, identified nine specific practice areas, partnered with leading local law firms to sponsor award-winning competitive advocacy student teams and expanded its clinical programs to six. He also has added the law school’s unique FLEX JD program, the Connections mentorship program and a Certificate in Patent Law as well as a number of dual degrees and 3+3 programs with area colleges and universities. 

Internationally, Leonard has partnered with the University of Nottingham to offer LL.M. degrees to not only current law students but practicing judges and attorneys in North Carolina; the University of Reading to offer two advanced international certificates; and the University of Cape Coast School of Law to offer a summer study abroad program in sub-Saharan Africa. He most recently served as a Fulbright Special Scholar in Bhutan, where he taught comparative international bankruptcy law. 

“Dean Leonard we are so grateful for your leadership and stewardship of Campbell Law,” said Professor Jon Powell ‘98, who acted as master of ceremonies for the event, which was sponsored by Todd Jones ‘98, Marshall, John ‘94 and Rebecca McCabe, Stacy ’94  and Blannie Miller III, Andy Penry and Perry ’81 and Susan Safran. “I’m appreciative of your hard work that you put in and thankful for your leadership. You are a wonderful, wonderful leader. And I thank you for the support you have given the law school and me, both professionally and personally.”

John McCabe, chair of the law school’s Board of Visitors, added, “This is a wonderful celebration for a wonderful man … and our opportunity to give thanks for a decade’s worth of incredible, incredible work. We have a dean who has been the embodiment of the university’s motto, ‘leading with purpose.’ He is constantly thinking about ways to improve this law school … and he is a tireless champion of the law school. Thank you Dean Leonard. You have been an innovator, you’ve brought incredible passion and led us through times of change, you’ve led us through a pandemic, it’s been an amazing 10 years. Thank you for your commitment. You have transformed the law school and we are looking forward to the next 10 years.”

Secretary Marshall added, “Having started in Buies Creek, I can tell you things have changed. From the late 1970s to today, the law school has changed with each leader making his or her mark. The average length of a law school dean, according to the National Jurist, is 4.1 years. The duration of service beyond that is remarkable, but then Dean Leonard is remarkable. Ten years is a distinction few deans achieve … but your greatest achievement to me is the fact that you remain focused on the ultimate measure of a law school’s success, the bar passage rate. You’ve made Campbell proud, you’ve made North Carolina proud and North Carolina would like to acknowledge your success and say thank you.”


Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,800 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2023, Campbell Law is celebrating 45 years of graduating legal leaders and 14 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.