Born in Mahnomen, Minnesota, Spaeth grew up in Valley City, Fargo, and Bismarck in North Dakota. He went to college at Stanford University, where he graduated with honors, and won a Rhodes Scholarship to New College, Oxford. After Oxford, we went to Stanford Law School, where he was managing editor of the law review.
After graduation, he clerked for United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit Judge Myron Bright and then for Supreme Court Justice Byron White.
In the November 1992 election for governor of North Dakota, Spaeth lost to Schafer, 58% to 41%. In 2004, Spaeth joined H&R Block, Inc. in 2004, as a senior vice president and chief legal officer. He resigned in 2007 and joined the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) as executive vice-president, general counsel and chief risk officer.
- Michael Kinsley (March 24, 2011). "Too Old to Get Hired, Too Young to Retire". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- North Dakota Supreme Court News-Nicholas John Spaeth
- Ellen Segal Huvelle (March 13, 2012). "Memorandum Opinion, Nicholas Spaeth, Plaintiff, v. Georgetown University, Defendant, Civil Action No. 11-1376 (ESH), United States District Court, District of Columbia". Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Nicholas J. Spaeth profile, University of Missouri School of Law; accessed March 18, 2014.
- Nicholas Spaeth, former North Dakota Attorney General, found dead in Fargo over the weekend, wday.com; accessed March 18, 2014.
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