Judge James Dickson Phillips, Jr.

Welcome to the UNC School of Law Kathrine R. Everett Law Library‘s digital collection on the life and work of Judge James Dickson Phillips, Jr. Judge Phillips served as dean of the law school from 1964-1974, and in 1978, began his term on the federal appellate bench. This digital collection is divided into four broad categories that are representative of Judge Phillips’s career: Early Life and Military Service, Professor and Dean of the Law School, Scholarship and Public Service, and Judicial Service. You will find unique digital resources such as photographs, articles, speeches, and judicial opinions throughout this site.

About Judge Phillips

After being awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his heroism in World War II, Phillips graduated from Carolina Law in 1948. While in law school, he was a member of a study group that produced some of the 20th Century’s most prominent leaders in both the state and nation, including: Bill Aycock, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a professor at Carolina Law; Bill Friday, president of the UNC System; John Jordan, Jr., a state senator; and Terry Sanford, U.S. Senator and Governor of North Carolina. You can read more about Judge Phillips’s early life and military service by visiting the Early Life and Military Service page on this site.

Judge Phillips practiced law with Sanford in Laurinburg and Fayetteville, North Carolina, before joining the faculty at Carolina Law in 1959. He was appointed to the deanship in 1964, and during his ten years of leadership, increased the law school’s enrollment, diversity, and curricular offerings. You can read more about Judge Phillips’s work as a professor and dean of the law school by visiting the Professor and Dean of the Law School page on this site.

From the time he began his career as an attorney, Judge Phillips sought to put his expertise to use in service to the state, and in particular, to the legal profession. He wrote articles and served on committees that sought reform in the structure of the judiciary, as well as contributing to the ongoing development of the rules of appellate and civil procedure. You can learn more about Judge Phillips’s scholarship and public service by visiting the Scholarship and Public Service page on this site.

While serving as a judge on the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Phillips heard thousands of cases with his colleagues on the court. He wrote opinions, concurrences, and dissents on some of the nation’s most pressing legal issues. After being appointed by President Carter in 1978, Judge Phillips served as a full member of the court until 1994, when he took senior status. He was known as an outstanding jurist by litigants, judges, and his clerks. You can learn more about some important cases that Judge Phillips heard while serving on the Fourth Circuit bench by visiting the Judicial Service page on this site.

Remembrances of Judge Phillips

The following documents, provided by the family of Judge Phillips, were collected from the memorial service held at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on November 4, 2017:

You can find more remembrances of Judge Phillips’s life at the following sites:

Further Reading

The Kathrine R. Everett Law Library has recently assembled two digital collections of resources related to the law school’s development of leaders in the state’s education and legal institutions, which you can find at the links below: