Raleigh, NC (June 30, 2011) - Martin H. Brinkley, a partner at Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan, was sworn in as the 117th President of the North Carolina Bar Association at the Bar Association’s annual meeting in Asheville, N.C. on Saturday, June 25, 2011.
Brinkley is the fourth Smith Anderson partner to serve as President of the Bar Association, following U.S. Senator Willis Smith (1941-42), James K. Dorsett, Jr. (1959-60), and John L. Jernigan (1999-2000). At 44, Brinkley is the youngest person to serve as President since James K. Dorsett, Jr. held the office more than fifty years ago.
In his installation address, Brinkley challenged the Association’s members to be more active advocates for a strong court system in North Carolina, as well as for a dramatic increase in access to legal services for the state’s growing indigent population.
A Wake County native, Brinkley attended public schools and Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. He received an A.B. degree in classics summa cum laude from Harvard University, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was Latin Orator at Harvard’s 336th Commencement Exercises. Brinkley received his J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law, where he was Executive Articles Editor of the North Carolina Law Review. After law school he served as law clerk to Chief Judge Sam J. Ervin, III of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Brinkley practices in the areas of corporate and commercial law, mergers and acquisitions, antitrust and trade regulation, public finance and appellate litigation. He represents corporate clients in the distribution, insurance, life science, energy and manufacturing industries. He is listed in Woodward/White, Inc.’s The Best Lawyers in America in the fields of Corporate Law and Mergers and Acquisitions; in Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite in Business Law and Corporate Law; and is a North Carolina Super Lawyer in the Business/Corporate and Mergers & Acquisitions fields. He is a member of the American Law Institute and the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, and has been an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Brinkley maintains an active pro bono practice, representing individual clients in public housing, landlord-tenant, termination of parental rights and criminal cases and counseling a wide range of religious, educational, and other charitable organizations.
Brinkley has held leadership positions in the North Carolina Bar Association throughout his 19 years of law practice. He chaired the Association’s Young Lawyers Division and served a three-year term on its Board of Governors. While chairing the Strategic Planning and Emerging Trends Committee, he led development of Momentum 2010, a long-term strategic plan for the Bar Association. In 2007-08, Brinkley co-chaired (with Smith Anderson partner Caryn McNeill) the Bar Association’s inaugural “4All” Campaign to address systemic problems in the availability of legal services to North Carolinians living in poverty. In 2009 the 4All Campaign received the American Bar Association’s Harrison Tweed Award, which honors state and local bar projects that improve access to legal services for indigent citizens. In 2008, the NCBA presented Brinkley with its Citizen Lawyer Award. Brinkley has also been an active member of the American Bar Association’s Section of Business Law, serving as editor of the Legal Opinions Newsletter, a national forum for discussion of legal opinion practice published by the Section’s Committee on Legal Opinions.
Brinkley has been heavily involved in community and civic organizations in the Research Triangle area and statewide. He is a former Senior Warden of Raleigh’s Christ Episcopal Church and is currently serving as Junior Warden during his second term on the Vestry. He has been a delegate from Christ Church to nine annual conventions of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina and is now Vice Chancellor and a member of the Standing Committee of the Diocese. Brinkley has served on the boards of more than a dozen civic and cultural organizations in the Raleigh area, most recently the Board of Commissioners of the Wake County Public Library System. He is Secretary-Treasurer of the North Caroliniana Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history and cultural heritage of North Carolina.
Brinkley and his wife Carol, a teacher of hearing impaired students at Frances Lacy Elementary School in Raleigh, have three children: Eliza (18), Caroline (16) and Sam (10).
With 17,000 members (approximately 70% of the state’s licensed attorneys), the 112 year-old North Carolina Bar Association is widely recognized as one of the country’s most vibrant and successful voluntary bar associations.