Martin H. Brinkley

Print This Page (PDF) Dean and Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law


  • J.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1992)
  • A.B., Classics (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), Harvard University (1987)

A native North Carolinian and first-generation lawyer, Martin H. Brinkley '92 is the 14th Dean of the University of North Carolina School of Law. Dean Brinkley is the first person since James Cameron MacRae (Dean, 1899-1909) to become dean of the law school directly from practice.  He is one of the school's two Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professors.  Arch T. Allen, III '65, grandson of the chair's namesake, was one of Dean Brinkley's first mentors in the law.

During his 22 years at the bar, Dean Brinkley practiced primarily in the fields of corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, antitrust and regulated industries, public finance and charitable organizations law. As a partner at Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan, L.L.P., he was counsel to clients 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 and Woodward/White’s The Best Lawyers in America.

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 served as President of the North Carolina Bar Association. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a Permanent Member of the Judicial Conference of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Dean 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 Christ Church in Raleigh.

Dean Brinkley was the 2017 recipient of the N.C. Bar Association’s H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award, which recognizes a North Carolina attorney "whose trustworthiness, respectful and courteous treatment of all people, enthusiasm for intellectual achievement and commitment to excellence in work, and service to the profession and community, inspire others."  That same year he was made a Master of the Bench of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, one of the four ancient inns of court that prepare barristers for practice in the courts of the United Kingdom.

Dean Brinkley lives in Raleigh with his wife Carol, a language facilitator for hearing impaired students in the Wake County Public Schools. They have three children.  When not deaning, he is a passionate musician, performing as pianist of the Fairview Chamber Players and studying privately with celebrated artists Mimi Solomon and Myriam Avalos Teie.  Dean Brinkley is also a student of Joseph Robinson, Principal Oboist of the New York Philharmonic (1978-2005). His “sensitive playing” of the oboe has been praised by Classical Voice of North Carolina as “capturing the hearts and emotions of the audience.”

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

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