Scholarship and Public Service

Throughout his career as a professor and jurist, Judge Phillips volunteered his time and abilities to reform of the law and the legal profession.

Professor Phillips, Summer 1977
Professor Phillips, Summer 1977

Phillips was an active participant in the scholarly dialogue on issues such as the structure of courts and the responsibilities of judges as well as on procedural issues, working to draft appellate and trial rules.

In 1975, Phillips received the John J. Parker Memorial Award from the North Carolina Bar Association, for “conspicuous service by members of the bar … to the cause of jurisprudence in North Carolina,” and in 1977, he received the Thomas Jefferson Award from the UNC faculty, in recognition of Phillips’s “personal influence and performance of duty in teaching, writing, and scholarship [that] best exemplified the ideals and objectives of Thomas Jefferson.”

While Phillips was a law professor and dean of the law school, he also served as vice-chairman of the state commission charged with reforming North Carolina trial courts in the wake of the 1962 state constitutional amendments to Article IV.1 The North Carolina Courts Commission filed reports regularly with the General Assembly that were influential in shaping the current structure of the state’s court system.2

A note from Ralph M. Stockton, Jr. thanking Dean Phillips for his service on the Appellate Rules Study Commission
A note from Ralph M. Stockton, Jr. thanking Dean Phillips for his service on the Appellate Rules Study Commission

Judge Phillips also spoke and wrote on the duties of judges and lawyers to society. He published his views on why state judges should not be elected and gave speeches, such as this one, on the place lawyers had in a changing, often tumultuous, society.

Appellate Court Rules and Civil Procedure

Judge Phillips was an active scholar and leader in the areas of appellate and civil procedure during both his academic and judicial career. In addition to serving on the Appellate Rules Study Committee of the North Carolina Bar Association and the Judicial Conference of the United States Advisory Committee on the Civil Rules, Phillips also took time to update state practice treatises.3

Some of Judge Phillips’s most well-cited articles address procedural rules. See, for instance, J. Dickson Phillips, Jr., The Appellate Review Function: Scope of Review 47 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 1 (Spring 1984) and J. Dickson Phillips and Paul D. Carrington, Reflections on the Interface of Treaties and Rules of Procedure: Time for Federal “Long-Arm” Legislation, 57 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 153 (Summer 1994)

Environmental Conservation

An avid outdoorsman, Judge Phillips served on the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in the early 1960s.4

He was a devoted conservationist, and his clerks remember stories of the judge’s week-long rustic fishing trips to the Outer Banks.

Professor Phillips with his dog, Jonah

  1. October 24, 1974 letter from Lindsay C. Warren, Jr., to Mary Oliver. Judge Phillips served from 1963-1975.
  2. Some of the North Carolina Courts Commission’s reports are available in the Law Library Rare Books Collection.
  3. He was an editor of McIntosh’s North Carolina Practice and Procedure in Civil Cases.
  4. Early editions of Wildlife in North Carolina, a publication of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, are available in the North Carolina Collection.