Arts & Humanities

Preserving the public spirit of Carolina

We sat down with Dean Martin Brinkley and asked him about his vision for the UNC School of Law

Carolina’s School of Law is the oldest graduate and professional school in the University and in the state of North Carolina. It grew from a simple but profound insight: that the American experiment in free government would need public-spirited lawyers with the ethics and expertise to defend the rule of law. That foundational mission has held steady for almost 175 years. What began with a single professor reading alongside a handful of students has evolved into one of the nation’s premier public law schools with world-class faculty training graduates who serve from Singapore to Salisbury. In this column, Dean Martin Brinkley shares his vision for the School of Law.



What is the mission of the School of Law?

The American Republic depends upon the rule of law to safeguard the freedoms that we all enjoy, and so it is important that there be professionals who are educated in the law from generation to generation, who are there to protect those freedoms and those rights. The mission of the law school is to prepare those individuals to sustain the Republic.

What is your vision for the School of Law?

We’re trying to make sure that this law school is serving the people of North Carolina and the people of the country by producing students who are capable of contributing to the economy, building businesses, going into public interest work, representing clients who are unable to afford lawyers. All of those things are going to be just as necessary, if not more important, in the future as they have been in the past.

What is your goal for faculty?

Carolina law has had a superb faculty for nearly two centuries, and sustaining that superb faculty and making it available to students is one of my primary goals as dean. Recruiting the strongest legal minds in the country — both as students and teachers — takes considerable resources. Our biggest challenge in the years ahead will be sustaining the public character and underlying quality of the school, competing nationally for the talent that North Carolina needs.

What is your goal for students?

A lot of the change is around experiential education for our students — opportunities for them to participate in clinics, in externships, in various forms of pro bono work that we do here from the school, in transition to practice courses that are different from the traditional law school class — so that they are really ready to practice when they leave Chapel Hill.