UNC law school dean sets sights on future

lawdean

Martin Brinkley took the stage as the fourteenth dean of the UNC School of Law in June 2015.

Brinkley said he faced challenges from the beginning when he arrived to a law school in need of new faculty.

“When I came in as dean, we basically had an almost-empty administrative suite,” Brinkley said.

After many faculty left or retired, Brinkley said he found himself with a heavier workload, missing the help normally provided by faculty.

However, Brinkley said the experience taught him a lot about how the law school works.

“It makes you better informed when you go to hire,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley said his goals after he started as dean were to develop relationships with faculty and students.

“I thought it was really important that I proved that we were able to work together well, and I think we’ve really succeeded in that regard,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley said he has been away from the law school this year, meeting with alumni and constituencies, but he hopes to spend more time at the school and with students next year.

“I’ve tried to make myself available, especially with students who want to talk one-on-one about their career goals, any problems that they’re having,” Brinkley said. “I hope I’m able to give them a little bit of perspective that is helpful.”

Brinkley said another goal he had for next year was to create a strategic planning process to decide the future of the law school — covering topics like curriculum, external support and the relationship between the law school and the University.

“I came to this position really just wanting to be of service to the school and to try to do everything I could to lift it, to strengthen it, to try to bring new resources to their side of it, and that’s what I’m hoping to do,” Brinkley said.

Elizabeth Gibson, a law school professor, said Brinkley has done a good job at redefining roles in the administration and hiring new faculty.

“When he first started last summer, one of his main goals was to meet individually with all faculty and staff members, find out what everybody was doing, what their interests were, what their goals were,” Gibson said.

Ashley Kersnowski, the newly inducted president of the Student Bar Association, said so far Brinkley has developed a good reputation in the law school.

“Overall my opinion so far is that he really cares about the students and that he really wants to make an impact that will last far past his reign as the dean, and he does it in a very humble manner from what I’ve gathered,” Kersnowski said.

Kersnowski said Brinkley has been working to gain funding for the law school and widen the school’s network.

“His mission was to go out and find the funding that we needed because as the new dean, you have to make those connections with alum. You have to just throw your net out as far as you can,” she said.

She said SBA has a good relationship with Brinkley and looks forward to working with him.

“He definitely has created an environment where he is ready and willing to hear everyone out, and I think that is really important, especially in a law school where everyone has an opinion,” Kersnowski said.

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