William Bradford Reynolds, the controversial head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, is expected to face a grilling by the Senate Judiciary Committee next week on his nomination as associate attorney general.

Once he is confirmed, Reynolds will have authority with Attorney General Edwin Meese III over all civil areas of the department, including civil matters in the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of Legal Counsel, according to a memorandum Meese sent to division heads.

But Meese said that the offices would report to Reynolds as an "interim procedure," fueling speculation that Reynolds might assume a different position in the department.

Some present and former department lawyers expressed concern that the Office of Legal Counsel would lose some of its independence under Reynolds, a conservative who has had his way on many civil rights issues in the first four years of the administration. The legal counsel's office acts as a legal adviser to the attorney general and executive branch agencies. CHANGING OF THE GUARD . . . Meese has hired a new spokesman and director of public affairs for the department. Terry Eastland, 35, will replace Thomas P. DeCair, who left the department last month. Eastland was an editorial writer for the Greensboro (N.C.) Record from 1975 to 1977 and the San Diego Union from 1977 to 1978. He then returned to the Greensboro paper as editorial page editor and in 1981 became editor of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.

He joined the department in 1983 as a speechwriter for then-Attorney General William French Smith. Since February, he has been helping Education Secretary William J. Bennett with transition matters.

Eastland and Bennett were coauthors of a 1979 book, "Counting by Race: Equality From the Founding Fathers to Bakke and Weber."

Mark R. Disler, former general counsel of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, has been appointed deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights, one of the three top aides to Assistant Attorney General Reynolds. Disler, 33, was an assistant to the general counsel of the Education Department from 1981 to 1982 and special counsel for regulatory affairs in the Civil Rights Division in 1982 and 1983.