University of North Carolina School of Law

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School of Law
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Van Hecke-Wettach Hall
Van Hecke-Wettach Hall
Established 1845
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Dean Martin H. Brinkley

Coordinates: 35°54′31.08633″N 79°2′32.73″W / 35.9086350917°N 79.0424250°W / 35.9086350917; -79.0424250

The University of North Carolina School of Law is a professional school within the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Established in 1845, Carolina Law is among the oldest law schools in the nation and is the oldest law school in North Carolina. It is consistently ranked in the top-tier of law schools.

The law school has just over 700 students at any time, and retains a student-faculty ratio of 13 to 1.[1] The entering class of first-year law students in 2013 was composed of 238 students from 28 states, the District of Columbia, and China.[1] Seventy percent of students were from North Carolina, and students of color made up 24 percent of the class. Men and women were each 50 percent of the class.


Following discussion in the North Carolina legal community, on December 12, 1842, the Trustees of the University of North Carolina authorized the University President, David L. Swain, to review and establish a law professorship. In 1845, William Horn Battle was named the first professor of law, and legal instruction began at the university.[2] In the years following, assistant professors and later an organized faculty and law library were added.

In 1915, Margaret Berry became the first female to graduate from the law school.[3] In the 1920s, the school began taking on much of the character of a modern law school, after the American Bar Association first published guidelines for schools. University President Harry Woodburn Chase was instrumental in leading the efforts for this reorganization over notable opposition, including the governor of North Carolina.[4]

In 1951, Harvey Beech, J. Kenneth Lee, Floyd McKissick and James Robert Walker Jr. were the first four black students enrolled at the law school in June 1951. McKissick and other black students had argued in court that a state law school for blacks in Durham was not equal to that in Chapel Hill. In March 1951, a U.S. Court of Appeals agreed and ordered UNC to stop excluding black applicants.[5] Sylvia X. Allen became the first black female student to graduate in 1962, and did so as the mother of six children.[6]


The 1999 addition to Van Hecke-Wettach Hall commonly referred to as the "Rotunda"

The law school is currently located in Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, towards the southeastern side of the Chapel Hill campus, neighboring the School of Government and several athletic facilities. Van Hecke-Wettach Hall includes the Kathrine R. Everett Law Library, located primarily on four floors on the back side of the building.

Centers and initiatives[edit]

The UNC School of Law is home to several centers that focus on issues of state and national interest:

  • Center for Banking and Finance - Lissa Broome, Director
  • Center for Civil Rights - Theodore Shaw, Director. Charles Daye, Deputy Director
  • Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity - Gene Nichol, Director.
  • Center for Law and Government - Michael J. Gerhardt, Director
  • Center on Law, Environment, Adaptation and Resources (CLEAR) - Victor Flatt, Director


  • Community Development Law Clinic: third year law students counsel large and small nonprofit and community development organizations.
  • Civil Clinic: third year law students represent indigent clients in civil matters.
  • Juvenile Justice Clinic: third year law students defend and represent juvenile defendants.
  • Immigration Law and Policy Clinic
  • Consumer Financial Transaction Clinic
  • Domestic Violence Representation Project

Law journals[edit]

The school is home to five student-edited law journals. The oldest, the North Carolina Law Review, was founded in 1922. This journal features an annual North Carolina issue reviewing developments in the state's law.


According to UNC's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 69% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[7] UNC's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 15.3%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[8]


UNC Law has increased their tuition 71% for in-state residents since 2007-2008 at a time when law school graduates have faced a sharply declining legal job market.[9]

The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at UNC for the 2013-2014 academic year is $44,983 for NC residents and $61,614 for out-of-state students.[10] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $176,368 for residents and $243,846 for nonresidents.[11]

Notable alumni[edit]

There are more than 10,000 alumni of the University of North Carolina School of Law.[12] Roughly 40 percent of practicing North Carolina attorneys are Carolina Law graduates, more than any other law school in North Carolina.[12] Many have gone on to notable roles, including countless government offices in North Carolina. Among these are the current and several recent NC governors (Cooper, Hunt, Holshouser, Moore, and Sanford) and (as of the 2017 term) four of seven North Carolina Supreme Court justices (Martin, Newby, Hudson, and Jackson). A number of Carolina Law graduates have served in the United States Congress, including Representatives Mike McIntyre (D-NC),[13] Howard Coble (R-NC),[14] and Mick Mulvaney (R-SC)[15] in the 113th Congress. Thirteen members of the current North Carolina General Assembly are Carolina Law graduates, including North Carolina Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt (D-Buncombe), North Carolina House Speaker Pro Tempore Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Wake), and North Carolina House Minority Leader Larry Hall (D-Durham).


  • William Horn Battle, 1845-1868; 1877-1879 (as professor of law)
  • Kemp Plummer Battle, 1879-1881 (as professor of law)
  • John Manning, Jr., 1881-1899 (as professor of law)
  • James Cameron MacRae, 1899-1909 (as dean)
  • Lucius Polk McGehee, 1910-1923 (as dean)
  • Merton Leroy Ferson, 1924-1926
  • Charles T. McCormick, 1927-1931
  • Maurice Taylor Van Hecke, 1931-1941
  • Robert Hasley Wettach, 1941-1949
  • Henry Brandis, Jr., 1949-1964[4]
  • James Dickson Phillips, Jr., 1964-1974
  • Robert Gray Byrd, 1974-1979
  • Kenneth S. Broun, 1979-1987[16]
  • Judith Welch Wegner, 1989-1999
  • Gene Nichol, 1999-2005
  • John "Jack" Charles Boger, 2006-2015
  • Martin H. Brinkley, 2015-Present[17]