Melissa Essary

Professor of Law
Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law
Office Location:
Raleigh Campus
Room 410
Mailing Address:
225 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC 27603


Professor Essary has taught employment courses since 1990, after practicing law for five years. She graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas, then took her law degree from Baylor Law School, finishing second in her class.

She taught law at Baylor Law School for sixteen years where she won awards for teaching and scholarship. In 2006, she moved cross-country from her native Texas to become the first female dean at Campbell Law School. She led the school to its new home in Raleigh in 2009. She returned to full-time teaching at Campbell in 2012. Professor Essary has been involved in the North Carolina Bar Association in various leadership roles since 2006. She currently serves at the national level as a site reaccreditation team member for the American Bar Association, ensuring that law schools meet ABA accreditation standards. She has served on site teams six times, chairing the last three of those teams.

She also represents Campbell at the national level through her service with the Law School Admissions Council’s (LSAC). The LSAC appointed her in 2019 to serve as a member of its new Emerging Markets and Innovation Committee. For the previous four years, she served on the LSAC’s Finance and Legal Affairs Committee. At the state level, she serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Justice Center, a leading research and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring the economic security of all North Carolinians. Most recently, the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court appointed her to serve a second term as a member of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, a unique state commission that hears claims of actual innocence.

Professor Essary loves teaching law students and is filled with gratitude as she sees the positive impact they make on their communities across the state and country. Essary speaks regularly on the topics of leadership in times of change and employment law. This year, she published a textbook on Client Counseling. She enjoys teaching an adult Sunday School class at Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh. She and her husband Larry have two grown daughters, Amber and Rachel, and a dog, Jody. Gardening is her newest hobby.

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