Law School Dean, 1891-1894
Alphonso Calhoun Avery was a lawyer, Confederate officer, judge, and teacher. He served as an instructor and the first dean of Trinity College’s Law School after the institution relocated to Durham in 1892 from Randolph County.
When Avery served as dean he was also an Associate Justice of the state Supreme Court. At the law school he was one of only three faculty, along with Stephen B. Weeks and B. B. Nicholson. A pamphlet promoting the new Durham incarnation of the law school states, “For the Fall, Winter, and Spring Terms, between October 1 and June 1, Justice Avery . . . will lecture twice a week to the Junior class on the law courses prescribed for admission to the bar, in connection with the instruction given by Dr. Weeks and Mr. Nicholson. During the Summer Term, from June 1 to October 1, Justice Avery will give his entire time to instruction in the Junior and Senior courses.” The entire course of study was only two years. The degree conferred was the LL.B, or Bachelor of Laws. After only three years of operation the law school closed in 1894 because of financial pressure in the midst of a national economic downturn.
Avery was born in 1835 on his family’s plantation near Morganton, North Carolina. He graduated with an AB degree from the University of North Carolina in 1857. Avery studied law under the scholar Richmond Pearson, who was later a North Carolina chief justice. In June 1860 Avery was licensed to practice law in the county courts. His preparations for the exam to practice in the superior court were cut short by the Civil War. He served in several capacities in the Confederate Army, eventually reaching the rank of major. After the war Avery became involved in politics. He was elected to a seat in the state senate in 1866. In 1878 he became a judge of the superior court and in 1888 he was elected an associate justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. Avery retired from the bench in 1897 and returned to Morganton. He opened a private law practice, continued to teach, and wrote prolifically on legal and historic matters. He died in 1913.
Announcement of Trinity Law School opening, at Durham, N.C., Oct. 1, 1891
Isaac Thomas Avery, Jr., Avery, Alphonso Calhoun, NCPedia.org [perma.cc/UDE4-QFQ5]
A.C. Avery Image provided by the North Carolina Museum of History