north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



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      Legal education in North Carolina during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries included a variety of methods. Prior to the Revolution some of the wealthier families sent their sons to study law at the Inns of the Court in London. Other young men studied law on their own or under the tutelage of practicing attorneys in private law offices. Noteworthy lawyers who instructed students in their offices include Thomas Ruffin, David L. Swain, Robert Strange, William Gaston, Spruce Macay, David F. Caldwell, and Archibald D. Murphey. The first private law school in North Carolina to advertise was that of John Louis Taylor, first Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Taylor opened his law school in Raleigh in 1822. Perhaps the best known private law school was Richmond Pearson’s in Mocksville and later at Richmond Hill in Yadkin County. Pearson taught from 1846 until his death in 1878.

      It was in the year of Pearson’s death that Judge Robert Paine Dick and Judge John H. Dillard opened the Greensboro Law School. Dick likely operated the school by himself until Dillard retired from the Supreme Court in 1881, then actively joining the school’s administration. Hundreds of young men received their legal educations at what became known as the Dick and Dillard Law School. The demeanor of the students inspired William Sydney Porter (“O. Henry”) to write a sarcastic poem entitled “The Dudes” about the “gay young blades” of the school. In 1880 Dick and Dillard had fifty students and that number was up to eighty-seven the next year. Among the early students at the school were Stephen A. Douglas Jr., Frank A. Daniels, Thomas Dixon, and Thomas Settle. Dillard retired from the school in 1888; Dick ran the school until 1893. In the fifteen years that the Greensboro Law School was open, Dick and Dillard successfully prepared about 300 lawyers for their bar examinations. The school operated in a building on the west side of North Elm Street, near the courthouse.

Bettie D. Caldwell, Founders and Builders of Greensboro 1808-1908 (1925)
Albert Coates, “A Century of Legal Education,” North Carolina Law Review (June 1946)
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)—essays on law schools and Richmond Hill
R. C. Lawrence, “Judge Robert P. Dick,” The State, June 28, 1941, pp. 16, 26
Archibald Henderson, “Dick and Dillard Famous Teachers in Legal Annals of North Carolina,” Greensboro News, July 1, 1928
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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