Dean of the Law School


Martin H. Brinkley is Dean and Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law.

Brinkley came to the deanship in 2015 directly from practice, the first person to do so in the modern history of the Law School. In his more than two decades at the bar, he practiced in the fields of corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, antitrust and regulated industries, public finance and charitable organizations law. He has been recognized in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers and Woodward/White’s The Best Lawyers in America.

At the law school, Brinkley teaches a transition-to-practice course on mergers and acquisitions. He has research interests in American legal history and the legal institutions of ancient Greece and Rome.

Brinkley is a graduate of Harvard University (A.B. summa cum laude, Classics) and the University of North Carolina School of Law, where he was executive articles editor of the North Carolina Law Review. He clerked for Chief Judge Sam J. Ervin, III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Prior to law school, he was a fellow in papyrology at the University of Cologne.

In 2011-12 Dean Brinkley served as President of the North Carolina Bar Association. He was elected to membership in the American Law Institute in 2003. He was the 2017 recipient of the Bar Association’s H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award and an Honorary Master of the Bench of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.

Brinkley has served on the boards of or acted as pro bono counsel to dozens of nonprofit institutions with charitable, religious, artistic and educational missions. He is Vice Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina and a former Senior Warden, Junior Warden and Vestryman of his parish. He is a passionate musician, performing as pianist of the Fairview Chamber Players and studying with Mimi Solomon and Myriam Avalos Teie. He is also an oboe student of Joseph Robinson, former Principal Oboe of the New York Philharmonic.

Leadership History

As Professor of Law

  • William Horn Battle, professor of law, 1845-1868 and 1877-1879
  • Kemp Plummer Battle, professor of law, 1879-1881
  • John Hall Manning, 1881-1899

As Dean of UNC School of Law

  • James Cameron MacRae, 1899-1909
  • Thomas Ruffin, acting dean, 1909
  • Lucius Polk McGehee, 1910-1923
  • Atwell Campbell McIntosh, acting dean, 1923-1924
  • Merton Leroy Ferson, 1924-1926
  • Atwell Campbell McIntosh, acting dean, 1926-1927
  • Abner Leon Green, 1926-1927 (absent on leave)
  • Charles Tilford McCormick, 1927-1931
  • Maurice Taylor Van Hecke, 1931-1941
  • Robert Hasley Wettach, 1941-1949
  • Henry Brandis Jr., 1949-1964
  • James Dickson Phillips Jr., 1964-1974
  • Robert Gray Byrd, 1974-1979
  • Kenneth S. Broun, 1979-1987
  • Ronald C. Link, acting dean, 1988-1989
  • Judith Welch Wegner, 1989-1999
  • Gene Nichol, 1999-2005
  • Gail Agrawal, interim dean, 2005-2006
  • Charles Daye, interim dean, 2006
  • John Charles Boger, 2006-2015
  • Martin H. Brinkley, 2015-present