Gene R. Nichol

Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity


  • J.D. (Order of the Coif), University of Texas at Austin (1976)

Gene Nichol is Boyd Tinsley distinguished professor of law and Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina. From 2005-2008, he was president of the College of William and Mary. Nichol was Burton Craige professor and dean of the law school at UNC (1999-2005); law dean at the University of Colorado (1988-1995); and Cutler professor and director of the William & Mary Bill of Rights Institute (1985-1988).

Nichol is co-author of FEDERAL COURTS (third edition, West, 2015) and contributor to WHERE WE STAND: Voices of Southern Dissent (NewSouth, 2008). He’s published articles in the Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Duke and Virginia law reviews. He has been a political columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and hosted a public affairs television show, Culture Wars, for KBDI in Denver. He's been a monthly op-ed writer for the Raleigh News & Observer for over a dozen years. He publishes regularly in The Progressive Populist and has written for The Nation and the Washington Post. He is executive producer of the documentary, "A Generation of Change: Bill Friday, Terry Sanford and North Carolina from the 1920s-1972 (UNC-TV, 2015).

In 2003, Nichol received the ABA's Edward Finch Award for delivering the nation's best Law Day address. In 2004, he was named Carolina's Pro Bono Professor of the Year. The next year, Nichol was inducted into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor; and Equal Justice Works named him Pro Bono Law Dean of the year. In 2008, he received Oklahoma State University's Distinguished Alumnus Award; the "Courage To Do Justice Award" from the National Employment Lawyers Association; and the Thomas Jefferson Award, for courage in the defense of religious liberty, from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. In 2013, the NC Council of Churches gave Nichol its Faith Active in Public Life Award; the NC-ACLU named him its W.W. Finlator Award winner; and the University of North Carolina gave him its Thomas Jefferson Award – the university’s highest faculty honor. In 2014, he received the McCall Teaching Award from the UNC Law School. 

Nichol attended Oklahoma State University, receiving a degree in philosophy (1973) and playing varsity football. He obtained his J.D. from the University of Texas in 1976, graduating Order of the Coif.


Selected Publications

Show All Publications

  • A Tar Heel Manifesto, PROGRESSIVE POPULIST, May 1, 2014. [Document Link]
  • Rankings, Economic Challenge, and the Future of Legal Education, 61 J. LEGAL EDUC. 345 (2012). [Westlaw, SSRN, Hein, Document Link (PDF)]
  • State Budget Challenges and the Scourge of Poverty, 7 DUKE J. CONST. L. & PUB. POL'Y 71 (2012). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein, Document Link]
  • Not a Winn-Win: The Establishment Clause and Taxpayer Standing, 2011 SUP. CT. REV. 215 (2011). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN]
  • Wages, Work, Privilege, and Legal Education 5 HARV. L. & POL'Y REV. 1 (2011). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, Hein, Document Link (PDF)]
  • Book Review, Establishing Inequality (reviewing Martha Nussbaum, LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE: IN DEFENSE OF AMERICA'S TRADITION OF RELIGIOUS EQUALITY (2008)), 107 MICH. L. REV. 913 (2009). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, SSRN, Hein KF4783 .N87 2008]
  • Ripeness and the Constitution, 54 U. CHI. L. REV. 153 (1987). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Injury and the Disintegration of Article III, 74 CAL. L. REV. 1915 (1986). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Abusing Standing: A Comment on Allen v. Wright, 133 U. PA. L. REV. 635 (1985). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
  • Rethinking Standing, 72 CAL. L. REV. 68 (1984) (reprinted in LOUIS FISHER, AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (1990) and THOMAS O. SARGENTICH, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW ANTHOLOGY (1994)). [Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Hein]
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