2 Metro Rankings
In June 1964, Julius L. Chambers opened his law practice in a cold-water walk-up on East Trade Street in Charlotte. A recent graduate from the University of North Carolina School of Law, where he graduated first in his class and became the first African-American to be Editor-in-Chief of the school's Law Review, Julius Chambers sought to open a general practice law firm that would, among other things, provide legal services to the African-American community in a society that was mired in racial inequities and long-held prejudices. This one person law practice eventually became the first integrated law firm in North Carolina history. In its first decade, the firm did more to influence evolving federal civil rights law than any other private law practice in the United States. Chambers and his founding partners, James E. Ferguson, II, and Adam Stein, often working with attorneys from the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., successfully litigated countless civil rights and criminal cases throughout North Carolina. You can learn more about the firm's work from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and today by exploring those decade links located on the left. Over the years, the firm has handled a number of noteworthy criminal cases, including the Wilmington 10 case which resulted in all of the convictions being overturned by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and, ultimately, pardoned by North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue, and the Darryl Hunt case which resulted in a pardon of innocence. In 2012, the firm teamed with other lawyers to litigate the only two cases ever tried under the North Carolina Racial Justice Act of 2010. The trial judge found that race was a significant factor in the death sentences imposed in these cases and set aside the death sentences and entered sentences of life without parole. The State has appealed the trial judge's order and the North Carolina Supreme Court has the cases under consideration as of this writing. Through the years, the firm has stayed true to its mission. It has represented citizens in police misconduct, criminal, employment, education, teacher rights, sexual harassment, medical negligence, personal injury, business transactions, voting rights and other areas. In addition to the founding Partners, 19 other lawyers have been partners, 19 as associates and of counsel. The support staff numbered over 60 and law students, college and high school interns have exceeded 125. Lawyers and law students have gone on to serve as elected officials, judges, professors, in house counsel, assistant public defenders, Assistant U. S. Attorneys, District Attorneys, Assistant District Attorneys, the North Carolina Attorney General, Assistant Attorney Generals, in house counsel, partners and associates in major law firms, public interest organizations and small private law firms. There have been many who have suggested that the Firm broaden its client base by representing big companies or governmental entities. The Firm has generally declined to do so. That is not our mission. That is not who we are or aspire to be. Over the years we have had great partnerships with community leaders and organizations locally, statewide, nationally and internationally as we have served our community. We are most appreciative of those relationships and collaborations. We recommit ourselves to our mission every day, but especially now in light of the challenges facing people who value democracy, and equality and justice for all.
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