Durham native Willis Padgett Whichard (1940-present) is the only person in North Carolina history to have served in both houses of the state legislature, on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and on the North Carolina Supreme Court. He obtained his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an LLM in judicial process and doctorate in judicial science from the University of Virginia. His legal career began in 1965, when he served as a law clerk to associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court William H. Bobbit (later chief justice). After 15 years as a practicing attorney with Powe, Porter, Alphin, & Whichard, he was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives (1970-1974) and then to the Senate (1974-1980). In 1980 Governor Jim Hunt appointed him to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, where he served until 1986. Twenty years after clerking for Justice Bobbit, Whichard returned to the North Carolina Supreme Court, this time as associate justice. He held this position until 1998, when he became dean and professor of law at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. Since 2006 he has been a practicing attorney with Moore & Van Allen, PLLC.
Justice Whichard has received numerous awards from organizations including the University of North Carolina, North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, and various civic groups. A scholar of judicial history, he is the author of the only full-length modern biography of James Iredell, a North Carolinian who served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1790 to 1799.