- J.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1992)
- A.B., Classics (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), Harvard University (1987)
Martin Brinkley, a native of Raleigh, N.C., was appointed the 14th Dean of the University of North Carolina School of Law by Chancellor Carol L. Folt on July 1, 2015. He shares with our first dean, James Cameron MacRae (1899-1909), the distinction of being the only practicing lawyer to become dean in the history of Carolina Law.
During his 22 years in private law practice in Raleigh, Dean Brinkley worked primarily in the fields of corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, antitrust, insurance, public finance and charitable organizations law. As a partner at Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan, L.L.P., he was lead outside counsel to corporate organizations in the manufacturing, distribution, food and beverage, and insurance industries. He led Smith Anderson’s regulatory and governmental affairs practice and was recognized in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers, Woodward/White’s The Best Lawyers in America, and Who's Who Legal International: M&A and Corporate Governance in the fields of corporate law and governance, mergers and acquisitions, and nonprofit organizations law.
After serving as Executive Articles Editor of the North Carolina Law Review as a student at Carolina Law, Dean Brinkley clerked for Chief Judge Sam J. Ervin, III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In 2011-12 he was President of the North Carolina Bar Association, the youngest lawyer to lead the nation's preeminent voluntary state bar in more than 50 years. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute.
Dean Brinkley is a recipient of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Citizen Lawyer Award, Carolina Law’s Pro Bono Alumnus of the Year Award, and other awards recognizing his pro bono service to individuals and charitable institutions. He has served on the boards of and acted as pro bono counsel to more than 30 nonprofit organizations with charitable, religious, artistic and educational missions. He is presently a trustee of the North Carolina Symphony, the North Caroliniana Society, Saint Mary’s School and the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute. He is Vice Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina and a former Senior Warden, Junior Warden and Vestryman of Christ Church in Raleigh.
Dean Brinkley lives in Raleigh with his wife Carol, a language facilitator for hearing impaired children at Frances Lacy Elementary School. They have three children. When not deaning, he is an avid classical pianist and chamber musician.