Law, School of

Carolina's oldest professional school, and the oldest law school in the state, began in 1845 with the hiring of William Horn Battle. A North Carolina Superior Court judge, Battle led the program during its formative years. The program became a school in 1899. It was a charter member of the American Association of Law Schools in 1920 and has been approved by the American Bar Association since 1928.

The program at first had rooms in various buildings, including Old West and South. The school's first building was Smith Hall (now historic Playmakers Theatre) from 1907 to 1923, when Manning Hall was built. The school moved to Van Hecke-Wettach Hall in 1968.

The School of Law has had numerous distinguished alumni, including North Carolina governors, state supreme court justices, and elected representatives. Some 40 percent of active attorneys in the state are UNC—Chapel Hill law school alumni. Among its notable alumni are governors Terry Sanford and James Hunt; civil rights lawyer and activist Julius LeVonne Chambers; Susie Marshall Sharp, the first female chief justice of the state supreme court; and Katherine Robinson Everett, the first woman to argue a case before the North Carolina Supreme Court, which she won.

The law school has on occasion been a target of conservative politicians. Recent examples include the 2015 mandate from the UNC System Board of Governors to close the school's Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity; and in 2017, a vote to bar litigation by the school's Center for Civil Rights. The school established the North Carolina Poverty Research Fund to replace the former, and the latter continues to produce research and analysis to advance civil rights and social justice. The law school, in partnership with the School of Media and Journalism, also hosts the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy.


Date Established: 1845

Date Range: 1845 – Present