Spencer H. Boyer

Professor Emeritus

LL.M., 1966, Harvard Law School
LL.B., 1965, George Washington University Law School
B.S., 1960, Electrical Engineering, Howard University


Spencer H. Boyer is the senior-most faculty member at the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., where he has taught for 50 years. He has served under 17 Howard University School of Law deans, as well as 7 Howard University presidents. He is one of the most senior law professors in the United States, and is the senior African American law professor in the United States. He received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1960 from Howard University; a J.D. from George Washington University Law School in 1965; and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School in 1966.

While at George Washington University, he was both a member of the law review and a member of the executive board of editors of the George Washington Law Review. At Harvard Law School, he was the co-founder and co-editor of the Harvard Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review, today one of the most respected civil rights law journals in the country.

During his 50 years of teaching, Professor Boyer has consistently won student awards for excellence in teaching. During a period spanning six different decades, Professor Boyer has taught at the law school longer than anyone else in its 148-year history. He has taught in excess of 4000 law school graduates, including, in some instances, two generations of the same family. Undoubtedly, he has taught more black attorneys than any other law school professor in history. Included amongst students he has taught are county executives from Montgomery County, Prince Georges County, as well as a former mayor of the District of Columbia. He has also taught many prominent judges on the federal, state, county, and local benches, across the country. Included among his former students are two university presidents. Other former students have gone on to have illustrious careers in sport, entertainment, and intellectual property law, as well as a myriad of other fields, in both private and public sectors.

In addition to his current course load, he has taught Civil Rights Law, Constitutional Law II, Entertainment Law, Business Organizations, Contracts, Federal Taxation, Municipal Law, State and Local Tax, Unfair Trade Practices and Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights. Professor Boyer is credited with establishing one of the first courses in Entertainment Law at a major law school, having taught this course since 1972. Administratively, Professor Boyer was the Associate Dean of Howard Law School for three years under Dean Wylie Branton and was the Director of the Howard Legal Intern Program for a number of years. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Florida, University of Iowa, and Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C, as well as a Distinguished Lecturer on Taxation and Urban Economics at the University of Buffalo School of Law. He taught Entertainment Law and Contracts as an adjunct professor at the University of the District of Columbia David Clarke School of Law. He taught David Clarke for whom the law school is named when Clarke was a student at the Howard University School of Law.

Professor Boyer participated in the CLEO program (Council on Legal Education Opportunities), a program designed to attract minority students and prepare them for law school, at Temple University and the University of Toledo. In addition, Professor Boyer served as Director of six CLEO programs hosted at Howard University.

He is the recipient of the Georgetown Law Brothers Forum Award, given at the “Celebration of Black Men in Law,” honoring the achievements of black men in the legal field. The awards were given to men who have been committed to excellence in three different legal areas: academic, government, and private practice. Among the many awards and honors he has received, the following is a partial listing:

Distinguished Howard University Faculty Author Award (2000, 2002, 2004) 

Spencer H. Boyer Scholarship established by former students to be given to outstanding law students at the annual Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyer Association (BESLA) Conference. 

Spencer H. Boyer Annual Keynote Address established by students to recognize an outstanding lawyer in the entertainment industry, with said attorney to give an address at the annual SELSA (Sports and Entertainment Law Student Association). (SELSA is one of the largest student sport and entertainment law school organizations in the country.) The keynote address in 2007 was titled “The First Annual Professor Spencer H. Boyer Keynote Address,” in recognition of forty years of untiring effort and scholastic achievements by Professor Boyer in the field of entertainment law. Professor Boyer was also presented with an Award of Excellence plaque at the conference for his continued excellence in the field of sports and entertainment law.

He has received awards from SELSA and various organizations for the last ten years. 

Among other awards he has received are:

  • Outstanding Alumni Award 2002 given by Howard Law School Alumni Association for the first time to a non-alumnus.
  • Outstanding Professor Award (2005-2006)
  • Professor of the Year Award (1998)
  • Student Bar Association (SBA) Award for Excellence in Teaching (1976-77); (1977-78); (1978-79); (1982-84) (1983-84); (1988-89); (1989-90); (1991-92); (1992-93); (1993-94); (1998-99)
  • Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award (1997-98)
  • Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award Class of 1999
  • Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award-University Award (1997-98)
  • Student Bar Association (SBA) Award for Lifetime Dedication (1977-78)
  • Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award (1975-1976)
  • Outstanding Professor Award (1973-1974)
  • Paul L. Diggs Award for Outstanding Professor (1972-1973)
  • Student Bar Association Award for Dedication to Howard University Law Students (1970-71)

Professor Boyer also served as an instructor in the Howard University School of Law Summer Abroad Program in South Africa where he taught “Protection of International Intellectual Property” at the University of the Western Cape to both Howard law students and students from across the United States and South Africa. At the the behest of the Jamaican Bar, he traveled to Jamaica and gave a presentation on “The Protection of Jamaican Intellectual Property” before members and guests of the island’s esteemed bar, as part of the Howard Law School Jamaican Project.

The National Howard University School of Law Alumni Association voted to present him with their outstanding alumni award, which was later presented at their annual meeting in San Francisco, California. This is the first time that the award has been given to an individual who is not an alumnus of Howard Law. In October 2002 at the Annual Meeting of BESLA, three of his former students established a scholarship in his name in recognition of more than thirty years of teaching Entertainment Law.

To broaden his interdisciplinary approach to teaching, Professor Boyer attended extended summer institutes on Social Science Methods in Legal Education sponsored by the University of Denver and the Law and Economics Program sponsored by the University of Miami. He is a frequent participant at various conferences, including the World Peace Through Law Conference, held in Mexico City, where he presented a major paper. In addition, he is the author of many scholarly articles. Professor Boyer has been a frequent panelist at various BESLA conferences.

He has been the faculty advisor to many student organizations, including the Entertainment Law Students’ Association, Student Bar Association (SBA), the Barrister (the law school newspaper), the Howard University Law School Scroll, and the Howard University Law Journal. He is a founding faculty advisor of the Bryant Inn of Phi Delta Phi Fraternity and has served extensively on university and law school committees. Presently, and for the last twenty five years Professor Boyer has served as chairman of the Admissions and Financial Aid Committee at Howard University School of Law.

In designing a recruitment poster for the law school, Professor Boyer coined the slogan now used in whole or in part throughout the university: “A tradition of leadership, the legacy continues.” True to that tradition, in landmark litigation, Professor Boyer was the plaintiff in a home lending discrimination case against a leading Washington, D.C. area lending institution. As a consequence of that litigation, the defendant bank agreed to increase its loans to minority home owners, to require its employees to undergo classes and counseling in minority lending practices, and to allow an inspection of their minority lending compliance practices. Professor Boyer’s case resulted in one of the highest monetary settlements in the nation to date by a lending institution in an action brought by an individual plaintiff.

In recent years, Professor Boyer’s community service has included representation of a non-profit organization dedicated to the construction of a family-oriented theme park on Children’s Island in the District of Columbia. As a consultant to Trans Urban East Inc., Professor Boyer helped design the concept of tenant management and ownership of public housing. A partial listing of public interest organizations represented by Professor Boyer includes: Change, Inc. (an antipoverty agency), City-Wide National Capital Housing Authority Tenants Union and the NAACP-Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Poor Peoples Campaign. In addition, Professor Boyer has served on various boards of directors, including WETA (Public Television); the Task Force for Secondary Education, Montgomery County; the Federal Bar Association of the District of Columbia; and the Boys and Girls Club of Takoma Park. Professor Boyer also served as a consultant to the Department of Agriculture on civil rights and secured a grant for the law school, culminating in a paper on the enforcement of civil rights in the Department of Agriculture. Professor Boyer is listed in Who’s Who in Legal America, Who’s Who in American Law and Who’s Who Among African-Americans.

Professor Boyer has also represented clients in the sports/entertainment field. A partial listing of his clients include William Becton and Friends (gospel stars); Harolyn Blackwell, with the Metropolitan Opera, who starred in the Broadway production of “Candide”; various jazz artists, including Dick Morgan; rappers and R & B artists; graphic artist Poncho Brown; and sports professionals such as Ross Browner of the Cincinnati Bengals; and noted boxers, as well as Dave Jacobs, the trainer for Sugar Ray Leonard, and the parents of Len Bias. Professer Boyer also was involved as counsel in the historic Watergate case, ultimately on the brief of United States v. Nixon before the United States Supreme Court.

Professor Boyer is married to an attorney, Prudence Bushnell. Two of his three sons are attorneys, with one working in the Obama administration on European affairs and national security matters and the other working as a private sector consultant. His third son is a writer. He has three daughters. One is a software test engineer with a major company in Virginia where she utilizes her two degrees in Electrical Engineering and Symbolic Systems; the other two are middle and upper school students at Sandy Springs Friends School and Edmund Burke School, respectively.

Professor Boyer’s office is located in 404 Houston Hall and he can be reached at (202) 806-8019.

Professional Contributions:

Policy Management Systems - Vista, a private antipoverty agency. Designed and structured individual public housing tenant councils and city-wide tenants union (1968)

Organization for Social and Technical Innovation. Designed and structured Tenant Management and Tenant Ownership Corporation for Public Housing (1969)

Trans Urban East Inc. - Designed and structured Tenant Management and Tenant Ownership Corporation for Public Tenants (1970)

United States House of Representatives District Committee (1974)

District of Columbia Law Revision Commission (Proposed structure for Alternative Sentencing, 1977)

Office of the Peoples Counsel, Public Service Commission (Rate structure for Telephone Company, 1980) 


Federal Injunctive Relief: A Counterpoise Against State Criminal Prosecution Designed to Deter the Exercise of Preferred Constitutional Rights, 13 Howard Law Journal 51 (1966)

Commercial Success as Evidence of Patentability, 37 Fordham 573; (1969). Reprinted in 2 Patent Law Review 1 (1970)

Copyright Symposium, 16 Howard Law Journal 439; (1971)

On the Brief for John D. Ehrlichman, United States of America v. Richard M. Nixon, President. In the Supreme Court of the United States (1974)

Taxes and Social Policies, 1 Consumer Strategy, January, 1975

Administration of the Tax System: The Tax Man Cometh, 3 Consumer Strategy, March 1975

Expanding Liberties, Book Review, 13 Howard Law Journal, 459 (1967)

Housing Development and Municipal Costs, Book Review, 18 Howard Law Journal (1974)

Standards for Compensatory Damages Under The Civil Rights Act of 1991, Principal Investigator for Grant from United States Department of Agriculture (1995) 

Professional Contributions

public housing tenant councils and city-wide tenants union (1968)

Organization for Social and Technical Innovation. Designed and structured Tenant Management and Tenant Ownership Corporation for Public Housing (1969)

Trans Urban East Inc. - Designed and structured Tenant Management and Tenant Ownership Corporation for Public Tenants (1970)

United States House of Representatives District Committee (1974)

District of Columbia Law Revision Commission (Proposed structure for Alternative Sentencing, 1977)

Office of the Peoples Counsel, Public Service Commission (Rate structure for Telephone Company, 1980)