University of North Carolina School of Law Profile, Chapel Hill, North Carolina |

University of North Carolina School of Law

Rank 39


Van Hecke-Wettach Hall,

160 Ridge Road, CB #3380,

Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380









Overview 2-3

UNC School of Law was founded in 1845 and is part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation's first state-supported university. The school has been approved by the American Bar Association since 1928.

Carolina Law prepares outstanding lawyers and leaders to serve the people and institutions of North Carolina, the nation and the world. Home to numerous centers and initiatives, the school offers strong expertise in civil rights, banking, environmental law, intellectual property, entrepreneurial and securities law, critical studies, bankruptcy and constitutional inquiry.

UNC School of Law is part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation's first state-supported university. The state constitution authorized a university in 1776, and the N.C. General Assembly chartered the university on December 11, 1789.

In 1793, the cornerstone of the first building was laid, and that building, Old East, is now a National Historic Landmark. The University's first student, Hinton James, arrived from Wilmington, N.C., on February 12, 1795, making this the only public university to confer degrees prior to 1800.

In 1845, William H. Battle became the university's first professor of law, and he oversaw the legal program that has grown into UNC School of Law. At the time, Battle was also a Superior Court judge, and he later sat on the North Carolina Supreme Court.

The School of Law became a charter member of the American Association of Law Schools in 1920, and has been approved by the American Bar Association since 1928. Also in 1928, the School of Law established its chapter of the Order of the Coif. UNC-Chapel Hill has been accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1895.

Student-Faculty Ratio 4


Admission Criteria 5

25th-75th Percentile 158-163 3.31-3.7
Median* 161 3.51

The above LSAT and GPA data pertain to the 2016 entering class.

Director of admissions Kelly Podger-Smith
Application deadline August 1

Law School Admissions details based on 2016 data.

*Medians have been calculated by averaging the 25th- and 75th-percentile values released by the law schools and have been rounded up to the nearest whole number for LSAT scores and to the nearest one-hundredth for GPAs.

Admission Statistics 6

Approximate number of applications 1371
Number accepted 605
Percentage accepted 44.1%

Law School Cost 7

Tuition and fees Full-time: $23,551 per year (in-state)
$40,182 per year (out-of-state)
Room and board $17,510
Books $1,442
Miscellaneous expenses $1,448

Class Ranking and Grades 8

Class Ranks

UNC School of Law no longer provides class ranks for individual students, with the exception of the top 10 students in each class. Students and employers will receive information about the grade-point-average cutoffs for the top 10 percent, top third and top half of each class, however.

The University of North Carolina School of Law uses the following grading scale:

A+ 4.0
A 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
C- 1.7
D+ 1.3
D 1.0

An A+ (4.3) may be awarded in exceptional situations (e.g., an A+ should not be awarded as a matter of course to the top student in each class, but only if the top student's performance is exceptional compared to the next student in the class). There is no D-; a failing grade is F (0.0).

Faculty members will report letter grades (with pluses and minuses, as appropriate) to the registrar. Some designated courses are graded on a pass-fail basis.


Faculty members may award a grade of "Incomplete" (designated "IN" on a transcript) in instances in which they believe the award of such a grade is warranted. Incompletes should generally be cleared by the end of the semester following the semester in which a grade of Incomplete is awarded. Determinations that a longer period is to be made available to clear the Incomplete may be made justified by special circumstances, and in consultation with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Incompletes that are not cleared within one year are converted to 0.0, although in extraordinary circumstances the faculty member, in consultation with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, may authorize a student to withdraw with a grade of IN. The designation "IN" followed by the grade ultimately awarded, will appear on student's transcript unless the instructor indicates that the original designation "IN" was made based on instructor error.

Pass/Fail Courses

Some courses are designated as pass/fail courses. Students may not change a graded course to a pass/fail course. The 65-hour requirement is not affected by whether a case is graded on a pass/fail course or not.

Grade Normalization (Curve)9

First-Year Curve

First-year classes are subject to a mandatory curve. The curve has two aspects: a mean requirement and a distributional requirement. All first-year courses are subject to the mean requirement. In addition, a distributional requirement applies to the large-section first-year courses.

Distribution Requirement

Percent Grade
35% (31-39%) A,A-
55% (51-59%) B+,B,B-
10% (6-14%) C,C+

  • A deviation of 4 percent is permitted in each letter grade category.
  • A grade of A+ is considered part of the 35 percent of grades to be awarded in the A to A- range.
  • Grades below C will be considered part of the 10 percent of grades to be awarded in the C+ to C range.

Mean requirement

In RRWA sections, the mean has a permissible range from 3.300 to 3.500. In courses other than RRWA, the class grade mean is 3.250, with a permissible range from 3.200 to 3.300.

  • A grade below a C is considered a 2.0 for purposes of determining the required mean.
  • An A+ is counted based on its actual value (4.3) for determining the required mean.

Upper-Class Mean

In upper-class courses, the mean GPA should ordinarily fall within a relatively narrow target band, varying by no more than .1 in order to ensure fair treatment of all students. In small-enrollment upper-class courses (fifteen or fewer students), a variance of .3 is permitted. In upper-class writing courses (WE or RWE), the mean GPA is somewhat higher, and a variance of .2 is permitted. The bands for upper-level offerings are as follows:

Type of Class Target Band
Courses (Small-15 or fewer students) 3.1-3.4 mean GPA
Courses (Larger-more than 15 students) 3.2-3.3 mean GPA
RWEs and WEs 3.4-3.6 mean GPA

Faculty members are permitted to deviate from these bands by ratcheting upwards or downwards if the mean GPA of students in the course is higher or lower than the overall mean GPA for upper-class students. For example, if the average GPA of upper-class students is 3.305, but the average GPA of the students in a Federal Jurisdiction class is 3.390 (.085 above the overall mean), the professor MAY but is NOT required to raise the class mean by .085-awarding grades in Federal Jurisdiction pursuant to a mean of 3.200-3.385, rather than 3.2-3.3. Similarly, if a Corporate Tax course draws a class with a mean GPA that is .085 lower than the overall upper-class mean, the professor MAY but is NOT required to ratchet the mean for that course downwards by .085 (3.115-3.300).

Honors 10

The Law School awards honors designations to students who graduate with high grade point averages:

Honor Criteria
Order of the Coif The top 10% of the graduating class is eligible for election by the faculty into the Order of the Coif. Only students who have completed at least 75 percent of their law studies in graded courses are eligible for consideration.
Highest Honors Any student achieving a 4.0 or higher
High Honors The top 10%.
Honors The top one-third of the class.
Dean’s List The top 50% of the class in any semester is eligible for the Dean's List provided he or she has no grades of Incomplete or Absent from Final Exam (AB). Dean's List for first-year students are also awarded, but is not announced for the fall semester until the end of the first year along with the spring semester awards.

Awards 11

Name of Award Awarded for/to
Pro Bono Publico Awards Each April, the Pro Bono Program celebrates the outstanding pro bono service of students, student groups, faculty, and alumni at the Pro Bono Publico Awards Reception. The Student Director of the Pro Bono Program solicits nominations for Pro Bono Publico Awards each March. Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community organizations may submit a nomination.
Sylvia K. Novinsky Award This award recognizes a graduating student for three years of consistent pro bono service as a UNC Law student. It awards a graduating student for their “career” of pro bono service.
1L, 2L, and 3L Students of the Year Any UNC Law student that is in the 1L, 2L, or 3L class during the current academic year (except for members of the Pro Bono Board).
Group Pro Bono Project of the Year Any officially recognized student group at UNC Law.
Professor/Faculty Member of the Year Any full-time or adjunct UNC Law professor or faculty member.
Alumnus/Alumna of the Year Any UNC Law alumnus or alumna.

Journals 12-17

First-year law students are eligible to participate in the Joint Journal Competition held each May, the week after spring semester exams.

Each of the five journals selects staff members from the competition. In total, there are 130 staff positions among the five journals available to rising second-year law students.

Journal selection is made by the editors-in-chief of the journals, typically in mid-July. Students are invited to join the journal staffs in late July before resume collection begins for on-campus interviews.

North Carolina Law Review

The North Carolina Law Review, a student-operated journal, serves judges, attorneys, scholars, and students by publishing outstanding legal scholarship and furthering the intellectual climate of the University of North Carolina School of Law. Through its collaboration with the legal community, the Review provides timely and thought-provoking commentary for people of North Carolina and the nation.

In addition, the Review trains its members in intensive legal research, analysis, and writing, thereby preparing them for the rigors of legal practice and public service. The Review belongs to the entire School of Law community and accepts the responsibility of enhancing the school’s reputation and academic environment.

North Carolina Banking Institute Journal

The NCBI is a student-edited legal journal at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The NCBI was formed in 1996 by a dedicated group of UNC Law students, UNC Law faculty, and attorneys. The NCBI was then officially recognized as a journal by the UNC School of Law in the Spring of 1998, becoming the third recognized journal at the School. Now, in its twentieth year, the NCBI continues to thrive with approximately 300 law schools, law firms, and financial institutions subscribing to the journal, which is published annually each Spring.

North Carolina Journal of International Law

As an extension of the University of North Carolina School of Law, ILJ has two principal goals. First, ILJ seeks to broaden the image of the school by providing attorneys with a publication focused on the practice of international law. Second, ILJ seeks to keep the law school in contact with those in the business and legal community that are forging ahead in the practice of international law.

International law has been one of the fastest growing sectors in American legal curricula in recent years. The University of North Carolina School of Law has not only kept pace with this growth, but continuously encourages its development. For convincing proof of the law school's long-term commitment to providing educational opportunities in the field of international law, one need look no further than the North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation.

The journal was launched in 1975 as the North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation by a group of students and professors at UNC's School of Law who recognized international law's growing importance for the North Carolina business community. The fledgling journal produced its first issue of three articles, totaling 107 pages, with a shoestring budget and the guidance of law student Henry Burwell and faculty advisor Seymour W. Wurfel.

The journal has grown steadily since then, with Volume 40 amounting to more than 1,000 pages. Volume 41 includes the premiere issue of The Forum, the journal’s online addendum. The expanded online presence reflects the editors' recognition of the need for agility amid the increasing pace of commerce, finance, war, migration, and other legally relevant global interaction. The journal posts more frequently to its blog, and Volume 41 is introducing "Reports," a class of online pieces that combine the analytical rigor of print with the immediacy of online publishing.

The journal's newly shortened name, The North Carolina Journal of International Law (ILJ), further reflects this agility. The journal started out focusing on international issues affecting the business community; however, the journal has over time broadened its scope and expanded its purview beyond commerce and commercial law. ILJ continues to maintain its commitment to examining international commercial law, but it also examines the full range of international issues, from cyberespionage and intellectual property to human rights and territorial disputes.

Furthermore, ILJ's annual symposium features legal scholars and practitioners discussing the impact of contemporary issues on international law.

North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology

The North Carolina Journal of Law & Technology (“NC JOLT”) was founded in 1999 at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Our mission is to provide legal scholarship focusing on the many intersections between law and technology. We define technology very broadly, covering issues in intellectual property law, cyberspace law, environmental law, criminal law, health law, privacy law, and any other subject area where the sciences and law converge.

Now in its eighteenth volume, NC JOLT has gained national recognition as one of the top intellectual property journals in the country, according to Patently-O. As a student-run journal, we take pride in producing influential legal scholarship. NC JOLT publishes one print and one online edition at the end of each academic semester. Both editions feature full-length professional articles submitted to the journal, as well as student-written comments and recent developments prepared by our staff.

Publishing with JOLT has many distinct benefits. For example, NC JOLT is one of the first journals to publish each academic year. We also assign an editor to each author to work with you throughout the editing process. Finally, we offer easy access to your published piece for later distribution through our website’s advanced posting capabilities. Please visit our submissions page to learn more about publishing with NC JOLT.

First Amendment Law Review

The First Amendment Law Review (FALR) is a student-edited legal journal that seeks to promote and protect the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution through publishing scholarly writings on, and promoting discussion of, issues related to the First Amendment.

FALR publishes professional and student articles for the benefit of scholars and practitioners. Professional contributions are composed of scholarly pieces, symposium papers, and novel, interesting essays regarding the First Amendment.

Moot Court 18

One of the most recognized student groups at the Carolina School of Law, the Holderness Moot Court Bench offers law students a voluntary competitive organization to develop skills in legal research, written preparation, and oral advocacy. The Moot Court team began in 1951 when Professor Bill Aycock coached a team to the national semifinals. Advocacy within the university continues to this day, and Moot Court's influence can been seen in several events. Moot Court sponsors the annual Gressman-Pollit Awards for oral advocacy in conjunction with the UNC Law Research and Writing Program (RRWA). Members also coordinate the annual J. Braxton Craven Competition; a constitutional law competition recognized as one of the most prestigious appellate advocacy competitions nationwide.

Students can become members of Holderness Moot Court via the William B. Aycock Intraschool Moot Court Competition, which is now held in the SPRING SEMESTER of their 1L year. Prospective members may be selected for membership on one of nine competition teams: Client Counseling, Negotiation, Invitational Negotiation, Civil Rights Appellate Advocacy, International Law Appellate Advocacy, Environmental Law Appellate Advocacy, Intellectual Property Law Appellate Advocacy, Corporate Appellate Advocacy, and National Appellate Advocacy. Also selected at that time is the Craven Bench, the panel of members responsible for the administration of the Craven Competition, and the Aycock bench, the panel of members responsible for the administration of the 1L tryout competition, the William B. Aycock Intraschool Moot Court Competition.

Each team focuses on a particular area of law and a distinctive competition format. Students considering trying out for moot court should evaluate which of these formats complement their own interests and talents. There are three types of competitions. The first is the traditional appellate advocacy format, in which two teams argue issues to a panel of judges, similar to the experience first-year students have in the RRWA program. In contrast to the appellate advocacy style competition, the Negotiation and Invitational Negotiation teams engage in direct negotiation with their student adversaries. The only people who speak in a negotiation round are students; judges merely observe and provide after-round analysis. The Client Counseling team competes under a third format. Teams advise a mock client, and judges determine which team best serves the client's needs based on applied legal and personal skills. As in a negotiation setting, the judges play no active role. Unlike the negotiation setting, however, there is no exchange between competing teams.

Clinical Programs 19

Clinical legal education provides students the opportunity to learn legal theory and practice while providing much-needed legal assistance to under-represented individuals and organizations. Students represent clients with a wide range of legal problems and handle litigation, transactional and policy matters from beginning to end.

Clinical offerings are sufficiently broad to allow students to work in a variety of legal areas and enhance a number of skills: civil rights, consumer, juvenile defense, community development, domestic violence, housing, human rights, family, immigration and policy work with legislators and non-governmental organizations.

Developing Practical Skills

In the course of assisting their clients, students learn fact-finding, analytical, and rhetorical skills as part of their practical experiences. Clinical legal work also deepens student appreciation and understanding of legal theory and doctrine. Students experience, first hand, the challenges of professional ethics. They learn to solve problems, make judgments, exercise decisions, and accept responsibility for matters that are of great importance to their clients. They learn to develop systems that facilitate the competent discharge of their responsibilities as lawyers.

How Students Work

Clinic students work collaboratively with other students and law faculty who teach in the clinic and provide rigorous supervision at each phase of their clinical experience. They have the opportunity to reflect on the practice of law, to consider how to balance the demands of the clinic with other law school and personal commitments, and to develop the foundation for a meaningful professional life. Their law school education is greatly enhanced by the bonds they develop with their clients, and the knowledge they gain about the relationship between law and social justice. For many students, clinical legal education is the most meaningful experience during law school.

Clinic students' contributions to the client and legal community increase access to justice, and are an important part of the public service mission of UNC School of Law.

The University of North Carolina School of Law offers the following clinical programs:

  • Civil Legal Assistance Clinic
  • Community Development Law Clinic
  • Consumer Financial Transactions Clinic
  • Domestic and Sexual Violence Clinic
  • Immigration Clinic
  • Intellectual Property Clinic
  • Veterans Legal Assistance Project
  • Youth Justice Clinic

Placement Facts 20

Starting Salaries (2015 Graduates Employed Full-Time)

Private sector (25th-75th percentile) $67,000 - $160,000
Median in the private sector $115,000
Median in public service $50,650

Employment Details

Graduates known to be employed at graduation 47%
Graduates known to be employed ten months after graduation 78.4%

Areas of Legal Practice

Graduates Employed In Percentage
Law Firms 49.3%
Business and Industry 15.6%
Government 16.1%
Public Interest Organizations 6.3%
Judicial Clerkships 8.8%
Academia 3.9%
Unknown 0%



The Externship Program at UNC School of Law is an academic program designed to enhance traditional classroom instruction by engaging students in real life lawyering experiences with practicing lawyers and judges in the community. Students receive academic credit (they are not eligible for salary) for participating in the program, which requires on site work with one of our partner placement sites for a set number of hours each week as well as completion of accompanying journal and class requirements at the law school. Our partner placement sites include judges at federal and state levels as well as lawyers from government agencies, public interest groups, and corporate counsel who serve as mentors and on-site supervisors for the students. The Externship Program’s faculty supervisors guide and facilitate the students’ exploration of their externship experience through tutorials, journal writing and class discussion.

Through the program, student externs have the opportunity to “try on” and explore a particular area of practice and observe different lawyering styles and techniques. The program aims to train students to examine legal doctrines and practice in the context of actual social and business problems and concerns. In the process, externships promote the students’ development of key lawyering skills such as legal analysis, research and writing, interviewing and counseling, negotiation, policy making and both informal and formal advocacy. Through their work with faculty supervisors, students critically examine their learning strategies, their goals and progress, and develop self-directed learning habits. The Program also promotes students’ understanding of professional responsibility through discussion of ethical and moral issues arising in practice.

The Three and Six Credit Programs

There are no mandatory course requirements for enrolling in the Externship Program; however, individual externship placement sites may specify prerequisites.

Students participating in the Externship Program work under the direct supervision of an on-site supervisor for approximately 10 to 11 hours each week during the 14-week semester for three credits, and 20 hours each week for six credits. Site supervisors are experienced lawyers who provide direction, supervision and feedback to the extern as the student initiates, progresses through and completes assigned projects.

Fall and Spring lottery spots are assigned in late February for the upcoming academic year. Students who receive a spot from the lottery may then apply to up to four externship sites, and accept at one. With sites ranging from judges to legal aid to corporate counsel to criminal trial work, there is something for every legal interest.

The program offers 55 placements in both the fall and spring semesters at a number of sites, and is limited to third-year law students through the clinic/externship lottery. The Program can occasionally offer a three credit spot to a spring 2L student once the lottery and waitlist are complete. The fall/spring program earns 3 pass/fail credit hours for the majority of sites, with a small number of sites offering 6 pass/fail credits. Please contact the Externship Program with questions about the 6 credit program.

The Summer Program

The summer program offers 50 placements, both at judicial and non-judicial sites. First- and second-year students interested in summer placement earn 5 pass/fail credit hours during the 7 week session and are on-site 32 hours per week. Externs attend class on Friday mornings during the summer session.

Participation in the Summer Program is via a lottery in late November. There are no mandatory course requirements for enrolling in the Externship Program; however, individual externship placement sites may specify prerequisites.

The Semester In Practice Program

The Semester in Practice program offers full time, semester long externships with our partner government agencies and public interest organizations in Washington DC, New York City, Atlanta and North Carolina. The program is designed as a capstone experience for students interested in a particular area of practice or skills set who are willing to spend the full semester off campus and externing full time with the host organization. Students are trained and mentored by on-site supervisors at the host organization. In addition, the Externship Program’s faculty supervisors guide and facilitate the student’s exploration of their experience through virtual classroom discussion, journal writing and individual conferences. Participating sites in Washington DC include the Department of Justice, Environmental Enforcement Division; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Comptroller of the Currency; the FCC; the Department of Health and Human Services; and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Students also have the opportunity to extern with the New York City and Atlanta offices of the SEC, the Atlanta office of the EPA, the Atlanta office of the CDC, the New York City office of EarthJustice, and with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Asheville and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Students participating in the program receive 12 units of pass/fail credit. Placement in this Program is by application only and requires the approval of Professor Savasta-Kennedy. There are often specific course requirements to apply to these sites, as well as a GPA of 3.2 or above. Up to 15 students may participate in the fall of their 3L year.

Student Organizations 22

  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) - Carolina Law Chapter
  • American Constitution Society (ACS)
  • Asian American Law Students Association (AALSA)
  • Attorney General Staff
  • Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
  • Broun National Trial Team
  • Carolina Health Law Organization
  • Carolina Intellectual Property Law Association (CIPLA)
  • Carolina Law Ambassadors (CLA)
  • Carolina Law Republicans
  • Carolina Public Interest Law Organization (CPILO)
  • Carolina Real Estate Law Association (CRELA)
  • Carolina Street Law
  • Carolina Teen Court Assistance Program
  • Child Action
  • Christian Legal Society
  • Community Legal Project (CLP)
  • Conference on Race, Class, Gender and Ethnicity (CRCGE)
  • Death Penalty Project
  • Education Law and Policy Society
  • Entrepreneurial Law Association (ELA)
  • Environmental Law Project (ELP)
  • Federalist Society
  • First Amendment Law Review
  • Hispanic/Latino Law Students' Association (HLLSA)
  • Holderness Moot Court
  • Immigration Law Association
  • Innocence Project®
  • International & Comparative Law Organization
  • Jewish Law Association (JLA)
  • Labor & Employment Law Association
  • Lambda Law Students Association
  • Law Students Against Sexual and Domestic Violence (LSASDV)
  • Law Students for Reproductive Justice
  • Media Law Society
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Native American Law Students Association (NALSA)
  • North Carolina Banking Institute Journal
  • North Carolina Journal of International Law (ILJ)
  • North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology (JOLT)
  • North Carolina Law Review
  • Parents As Law Students (PALS)
  • Sports and Entertainment Law Association
  • Student Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • Student Bar Association
  • Transactional and Corporate Law Association
  • Veterans Advocacy Legal Organization (VALOR)
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
  • Women in Law (WIL)