Henry Frye Retires After Historic Legal Career


Henry Frye, who had been of counsel with Brooks Pierce since 2001, has retired from the practice of law at the age of 83 after a distinguished and historic career. Frye joined Brooks Pierce after retiring from the North Carolina Supreme Court, where he had served as both the first African-American Justice and the first African-American Chief Justice.

"I feel very blessed by the career that I have had, but after more than 50 years it is time to step back from the active practice of law," Frye said. "I never set out to make history or pave the way for others, but I have been fortunate throughout my career to have a strong network of people who believed in me and encouraged me to continue to take on new challenges and new roles."

Frye began his career in private practice handling a variety of legal matters.  In 1963 he was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, one of the first African-Americans to be appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney in the South.  In 1968, Frye became the first African-American to be elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in the 20th century.  He served in the State House for 12 years and was then elected to a two-year term in the North Carolina Senate.  In 1983, Frye became the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, and in 1999 he was appointed Chief Justice, another first.  After joining Brooks Pierce, Frye focused his practice on appellate advocacy, mediation and commercial arbitration.

"Justice Frye is among the most notable jurists in the history of North Carolina," said Reid Phillips, managing partner of Brooks Pierce.  "We are pleased that he chose to spend the latter part of his career with Brooks Pierce, where he provided tremendous insight and served as a mentor and friend to all of our attorneys."

While Frye is retiring from the law, he plans to remain active in a variety of civic organizations including the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership, North Carolina A&T State University and the Elon University School of Law.

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