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University of North Carolina School of Law
Van Hecke-Wettach Hall
Parent schoolUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Established1845; 176 years ago (1845)
School typePublic
DeanMartin H. Brinkley
LocationChapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
35°54′31.08633″N 79°2′32.73″W / 35.9086350917°N 79.0424250°W / 35.9086350917; -79.0424250Coordinates: 35°54′31.08633″N 79°2′32.73″W / 35.9086350917°N 79.0424250°W / 35.9086350917; -79.0424250
USNWR ranking24th[1]

The University of North Carolina School of Law (also designated as UNC 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 United States and is the oldest law school in North Carolina.


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 June 1951, Harvey Beech, J. Kenneth Lee, Floyd McKissick, and James Robert Walker Jr. became the first four black students enrolled at the law school. 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]

As of 2017, the law school has 634 enrolled students and a student-faculty ratio of 11.3 to 1.[7] The entering class of first-year law students in 2017 was composed of 213 students from 25 states, the District of Columbia, and China. Sixty-three percent of students were from North Carolina, and students of color made up 26 percent of the class. Fifty-one percent of incoming students were female, while 49% were male.[8]

The University of North Carolina School of Law is consistently ranked in the top-tier of law schools in the United States. UNC Law is ranked 24th by U.S. News and World Report.[9]


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

The UNC School of Law is home to several centers that focus on issues of state and national interest:[10]


Clinics provide students with the opportunity to learn legal theory and put the legal theory to practice.[11]

Law journals

The school is home to five student-edited law journals.[12] 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 School of Law 2017 ABA-required disclosures, 80.51% of the Class of 2017 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required or JD advantage employment ten months after graduation.[13]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at UNC for the 2017-2018 academic year is $49,562 for North Carolina residents and $66,193 for out-of-state students.[14] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $176,368 for residents and $243,846 for nonresidents.[15]

Notable alumni

Main article: List of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumni

There are more than 10,000 alumni of the University of North Carolina School of Law.[16] Roughly 40 percent of practicing North Carolina attorneys are Carolina Law graduates, more than any other law school in North Carolina.[16] Many have gone on to notable roles, including countless government offices, such as former United States Senator and 2004 Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards, and former Chief of Staff to the President of the United States and former United States Congressman, Mick Mulvaney. Additionally, many have served in numerous positions in the North Carolina state government. Among these are the current and several recent NC governors (Cooper, Hunt, Holshouser, Moore, and Sanford) and (as of the 2021 term) three of seven North Carolina Supreme Court justices (Barringer, Newby and Hudson).



  1. ^ "University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill #24 in Best Law Schools". U.S. News & World Report L.P. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  2. ^ History
  3. ^ "Women's History @ UNC". Archived from the original on 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  4. ^ a b Coates , Albert, The Story of the Law School of the University of North Carolina, North Carolina Law Review 47, Oct. 1968 Special Issue
  5. ^ Carolina to Celebrate 50 Years of African-American Students
  6. ^ Black History
  7. ^ "University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Class of 2020 Profile" (PDF). University of North Carolina School of Law. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  9. ^ "University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill #27 in Best Law Schools (tie)". U.S. News & World Report L.P. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Centers and Programs". UNC School of Law.
  11. ^ "UNC Law Clinics". UNC School of Law. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  12. ^ "UNC School of Law Journals". UNC School of Law.
  13. ^ "ABA Required Disclosures". ABA Required Disclosures. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Tuition and Fees".
  15. ^ "University of North Carolina Profile".
  16. ^ a b Carolina Law Alumni Association
  17. ^ The University of North Carolina School of Law: A Sesquicentennial History, North Carolina Law Review 73.
  18. ^ "Martin Brinkley '92 chosen as 14th Dean of UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law".