CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — A New York-based law firm representing 12 students and a professor at North Carolina's flagship public university is pressing the school to remove a Confederate soldier statue.

An attorney wrote Wednesday to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill officials contending the 1913 statue nicknamed "Silent Sam" violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

The warning comes from Hampton Dellinger, a Durham attorney with the firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner on behalf of the students, the professor and the Black Law Students Association.

Chancellor Carol Folt has said the school lacks the legal authority to act because of a 2015 state law that prevents removing or altering a public monument.

Campus spokesman Joel Curran said Wednesday the students raised questions about federal civil rights law that will need to be addressed.