Georgia State Law alumnus and Board of Visitors member Craig A. Spencer (J.D. ’87) was always drawn to real estate. Even during his time as a law student, he was buying houses around Atlanta and renting them out. It’s no surprise that after practicing law for a couple years, Spencer established the Arden Group in 1989, a fully integrated real estate company focusing on acquiring, developing and managing high quality real estate assets throughout the U.S.
Based in Philadelphia, Spencer’s impact reaches much further than real estate. He teamed up with none other than Jon Bon Jovi, and together the two founded and co-owned the Philadelphia Soul Arena Football Team. Spencer also gives back with the creation of their non-profit, the JBJ Soul Foundation. Here, Spencer discusses his career and the role his degree from Georgia State Law has played.
Why Georgia State Law?
Even though my long-term plan was always real estate, I planned on going to law school. I chose Georgia State after visiting my brother who was attending Emory Medical School at the time. I enjoyed Atlanta so much I decided to apply to Georgia State Law and was lucky enough to be accepted. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Getting a law degree allowed me to see things in a completely different way and taught me a different set of skill. Many people going into business lean towards MBA’s, but I think a law degree can be just as valuable, if not more.
How did the JBJ Soul Foundation get started?
I was interested in acquiring the rights to the arena football team in Philadelphia. Jon Bon Jovi was also interested and the commissioner decided we would be better off doing it together, he was right! Charity was important to both of us so each year for five years, we gave $50,000 each to four charities. Ultimately, we decided to formalize our charitable giving into what is now the JBJ Soul foundation.
Creating the JBJ Soul Foundation comes out of our mutual desire to give back in a bigger way. Our primary focus has been on homelessness with education and food insecurity. To date, the Foundation has been involved in the building of over 500 homes and our soul kitchens have served more than 100,000 meals.
You’ve had a successful career, is there anything in particular you credit that with?
It has been a great run so far but there have been plenty of highs and lows. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all certainly experiencing one of those lows. During times like this it’s important to be very disciplined, process oriented and to treat everyone with respect even when those discussions may not be the most comfortable. My law school education taught me process and logic. I learned how to take an issue and break it down into its component parts, analyze each and every issue and then figure out how to put it all back together. That is incredibly valuable when living in a constant state of uncertainty.
Interview by Mara Thompson