Duke Law School is an ambitious, forward-thinking, and innovative institution whose mission is to prepare students for responsible and productive lives in the legal profession. As a community of scholars, the Law School also provides leadership at the national and international levels in efforts to improve the law and legal institutions through teaching, research, and other forms of public service.
At Duke Law School, students and faculty experience academic rigor in an interdisciplinary environment where creativity and innovation rule. Bold, strategic expansions in faculty, clinics, interdisciplinary centers, law journals, public interest opportunities, and high-tech facilities ensure that the Law School stays on the cutting edge of legal scholarship. The Duke Blueprint to LEAD is a powerful set of principles for leadership growth that informs the development of committed, ethical lawyers who are well-equipped for the 21st century.
|Director of admissions||William Hoye|
|Application deadline||February 15|
|Approximate number of applications||4819|
|Tuition and fees Full-time:||$57,717 per year|
|Room and board||$12,978|
Duke Law School uses a slightly modified form of the traditional 4.0 grading scale. The modification permits faculty to recognize especially distinguished performance with grades above a 4.0, but no more than five percent (5%) of the grades in any class may be higher than a 4.0.
There is an enforced maximum median grade in all first-year courses and in upper-level courses with more than ten (10) students:
|Numerical Grade||Percentage of Class|
The law school has three levels of graduation honors:
|Summa Cum Laude||JD graduates whose graded work in all courses at the Law School places them in the top two percent of the students in their graduating class shall be graduated Summa Cum Laude. While Summa Cum Laude will generally be based on the combination of first-year and upper-level courses, transfer students who have completed their upper-level course of study at Duke Law School and whose graded work at the Law School places them firmly in the top two percent of their graduating class may be considered for Summa Cum Laude by the Dean in consultation with the Administrative Committee.|
|Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude||
|Top Five Percent Honors||In addition to the Latin honors awarded at graduation, JD students whose graded work in all courses at the Law School places them in the top five percent of the students in their graduating class shall be recognized for this achievement. Students shall be recognized as in the top five percent of their graduating class both after the recording of all second-year grades and at graduation. Top five-percent recognition is available only to students who complete their first year at Duke Law School.|
|Individual Course Honors||The student earning the highest grade in each class subject to the mandatory median as required by Rule 3-1(b) shall be recognized for this achievement. In all classes subject to this median requirement and with final enrollments of 80 or more students, the two students earning the highest grades in the class shall be recognized. Faculty are responsible for distinguishing between students with identical reported grades to permit this recognition.|
|Name of Award||Awarded for/to|
|Justin Miller Award for Leadership||The recipient is someone who has been especially active in the Law School and/or the greater Durham community, who demonstrates initiative and leads by example. He or she takes responsibility for his or her actions and encourages others to do the same.|
|Justin Miller Award for Integrity||The recipient is a courageous person with strong principles, a solid character, and a true sense of altruism. Demonstrating an appreciation for honesty and justice, he or she instills these same qualities in others.|
|Justin Miller Award for Citizenship||A genuine enthusiasm for the Duke Law School community distinguishes this recipient as someone who brings people together in constructive ways. With a spirit of optimism, he or she looks beyond individual differences to find common ground in mentoring relationships with others.|
|Justin Miller Award for Intellectual Curiosity||Not necessarily the student with the highest grades or the most academic honors, the recipient is a person who truly enjoys learning. He or she has an intellectual hunger and passion for the law and consistently shares this with and encourages it in others.|
|LLM Award for Leadership and Community Participation||The recipient is someone who has demonstrated the following attributes: 1) Engagement with the whole Law School community in addition to showing leadership among the LLM students, 2) Showing a display of concern for the well-being of LLM students at the Law School and at the University, 3) Making effective efforts to promote integration of LLM and JD students, 4) Participating in Law School organizations and activities, 5) Devoting attention to academic performance in Law School Courses.|
Alaska Law Review:The Alaska Law Review is a scholarly publication that examines legal issues affecting the state of Alaska. It is composed of second and third year law students from Duke University School of Law, and governed by a faculty advisor committee.
Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum:The Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum began in 1991 as an interdisciplinary magazine published annually. Since then, the Forum has grown into a traditional environmental law journal. DELPF has retained its interdisciplinary roots and presents scholarship that examines environmental issues by drawing on legal, scientific, economic, and public policy resources. DELPF's affiliations with the Nicholas School for the Environment, the Terry Sanford Institute for Public Policy, and the Law School render it uniquely positioned to adapt to the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of environmental law.
Duke Forum for Law & Social Change:The Duke Forum for Law & Social Change (DFLSC) is the newest addition to the Duke Law family of journals. Created with a mission to foster progressive discussion around important social issues, DFLSC features articles covering a wide range of legal topics. Each issue focuses on a timely, central theme. While the primary focuses of DFLSC are on its annual symposium and symposium-based publication, it also strives to provide a meaningful forum for ongoing discussion of social change and related issues. DFLSC has already actively engaged in many of its forum initiatives. Beginning in March 2008, DFLSC has held a Town Hall Forum each semester, featuring scholars, students and community members. Each Town Hall Forum evokes community-wide discussion on timely social topics.
Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law:The Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law ("DJCIL") was established in 1990 and is dedicated to the publication of original scholarship on international, transnational and comparative law matters. The Journal is edited by a student board and publishes three issues annually. DJCIL not only publishes articles by international scholars and practitioners, but also draws upon Duke's prominent international and comparative law faculty. Additionally, approximately one-third of the Journal's total page count is devoted to notes by Duke Law students. DJCIL's editorial staff includes many students enrolled in Duke's JD/LLM Program in International and Comparative Law and some of the international practitioners enrolled in Duke'sLLM Program.
Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy:The Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy (DJCLPP) is a scholarly publication that examines legal issues at the intersection of constitutional litigation and public policy. The Journal serves as both a practical resource for lawyers, judges, and legislators who confront cutting-edge constitutional and public policy issues and a forum for intellectual discourse surrounding these issues. The Journal aims to enhance the community's understanding of constitutional law and public policy and to arm practitioners with arguments and proposals for reform.
Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy:The Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy is an interdisciplinary publication devoted to a discussion of gender, sexuality, race, and class in the context of law and public policy. Our mission is to foster debate, to publish work largely overlooked by other law reviews, and to encourage scholarship outside the bounds of conventional law school curricula. In doing so, we take an expansive view of law, engaging other disciplines including literature, sociology, anthropology, psychology, politics, and critical theory. Our goal is not only to explore what the law was and is, but what it could and should be.
Duke Law & Technology Review:The Duke Law & Technology Review (DLTR) is an online legal publication that focuses on the evolving intersection of law and technology. This area of study draws on a number of legal specialties: intellectual property, business law, free speech and privacy, telecommunications, and criminal law-each of which is undergoing doctrinal and practical changes as a result of new and emerging technologies. DLTR strives to be a "review" in the classic sense of the word. We examine new developments, synthesize them around larger theoretical issues, and critically examine the implications. We also review and consolidate recent cases, proposed bills, and administrative policies.
Duke Law Journal:The first issue of what was to become the Duke Law Journal was published in March 1951 as the Duke Bar Journal. Created to provide a medium for student expression, the Duke Bar Journal consisted entirely of student-written and student-edited work until 1953, when it began publishing faculty contributions. To reflect the inclusion of faculty scholarship, the Duke Bar Journal became the Duke Law Journal in 1957. In 1969, the Journal published its inaugural Administrative Law Symposium issue, a tradition that continues today.
Law and Contemporary Problems:Law and Contemporary Problems was founded in 1933 and is the oldest journal published at Duke Law School. It is a quarterly, interdisciplinary, faculty-edited publication of Duke Law School. L&CP recognizes that many fields in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities can enhance the development and understanding of law. It is our purpose to seek out these areas of overlap and to publish balanced symposia that enlighten not just legal readers, but readers from these other disciplines as well.
Moot Court is appellate advocacy, and it is one of most challenging and rewarding activities in which Duke Law students participate. During Moot Court competitions students stand before their professors and peers and test their classroom knowledge and oral skills.
All first-year students compete in the Hardt Moot Court competition, where they argue an appellate brief and endure rigorous questioning by the judges (second- and third-year students). Those who score highest in this competition, or in the Dean's Cup competition, are invited to join the prestigious student-run Moot Court Board. This opens the door to many opportunities: Within the law school, the Board assists the legal research and writing instructors in teaching appellate advocacy and organizes and runs the Moot Court competitions. Joining the Moot Court Board also affords students the opportunity to compete in interscholastic moot court competitions around the country, where topics include intellectual property, products liability, securities, labor, and constitutional law.
Moot Court is valuable professional training wherein students think on their feet and hone their speaking, advocacy, and legal analysis skills.
The Duke Law Moot Court Board is comprised of students who practice the highest level of oral advocacy in the school. Invitations to join the Board are extended based solely on student performance in competitive the Hardt Cup, the Dean's Cup, and the Jessup Cup. Most members earn membership their performance in the Hardt Cup at the end of the first year of law school. Upper level students may earn membership through their performance in the Dean's Cup or the Jessup Cup.
The Benefits of Moot Court Board Membership
The Moot Court Board allows students at Duke to participate in Board activities and Moot Court competitions. Moot Court is appellate advocacy, where students act as if they are arguing a case on appeal to the Supreme Court, a circuit court, or a state supreme court.
The Moot Court Board is entirely student run and is unique among law school organizations because of its eclectic activities. Within the law school, the Board assists the legal research and writing instructors in teaching appellate advocacy and organizes and runs the Hardt Cup, the Dean's Cup, and the Jessup Cup. In addition, the Board sends teams to interscholastic moot court competitions covering diverse topics such as intellectual property, products liability, securities, labor, and constitutional law.
Participating in Moot Court Board gives members a chance to hone their speaking, advocacy, and critical thinking skills. Members are also afforded the opportunity on several occasions to meet judges and visit cutting edge problems in a variety of areas of the law. Most importantly, Board members can compete in interscholastic tournaments which offer competitors the opportunity to build expertise in a field, test themselves against the skills of students at other schools, and win accolades.
The Benefits of Participating in Moot Court Competitions
Participation in moot court competitions such as the Hardt Cup, the Dean's Cup, and the Jessup Cup can benefit every Duke Law student. Competing in moot court competitions provides an opportunity for students to build advocacy skills, sharpen public speaking skills, and engage in legal analysis in a variety of areas of law. The skills are not only beneficial for future trial attorneys. The ability to speak persuasively and think on your feet is invaluable in all types of legal careers.
Requirements of Membership
Top competitors in the Hardt Cup, Dean's Cup, and Jessup Cup are extended invitations to join the Moot Court Board. Each Board member is required to fulfill at least one participation credit prior to graduation. This requirement can be fulfilled in a number of ways including competing in one interscholastic competition or holding an Executive Board position. All Board members also judge the intramural competitions sponsored by the Board.
Duke Law School has experienced an explosion of clinics, offering a variety of opportunities for students to build an experiential bridge between law school and practice. The new clinic space, which occupies one floor of the Law School, is symbolic of the commitment to and growing depth of Duke's clinical program. Working together in the clinic suite, the real-client clinical courses operate as a public interest law firm, providing students challenging opportunities to deepen their substantive legal knowledge, strengthen their lawyering skills, and build their professional identities.
Whether a clinic student is representing a special-needs child in obtaining an individualized education plan, working with a non-profit to help meet the community's need for affordable housing, or advocating for a wrongly-convicted person, the student is not only enhancing his or her own professional skills, but also providing free legal assistance to at-risk populations.
Duke's Clinical Program is on course to become a national leader in teaching clinical skills. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, Duke Law's clinical faculty is committed to providing high-quality supervision and innovative teaching. Over the course of the semester, clinical faculty members work closely with each individual student to provide mentoring and guidance.
The Appellate Litigation Clinic: allows students to develop litigation skills by preparing and presenting appeals in appellate courts including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The courts appoint the supervising professors as counsel of record in appropriate cases filed by parties who are not represented by counsel. Students review the trial court record for the cases, conduct legal research, draft and file appellate and reply briefs, prepare the excerpts of record for the court of appeals, prepare for oral argument, and argue the case, with permission of the court and consent of the client. The clinic provides Duke Law students an extraordinary opportunity to develop their legal skills at the same time that they provide critical legal services to people who would otherwise be unrepresented.
The Children's Law Clinic: is a community law office that provides free legal advice, advocacy, and legal representation to low-income children. The clinic is staffed by Duke Law students who bring their compassion, commitment, and energy to the task of advocating for at-risk children. Since its establishment in 2002, the Children's Law Clinic has represented hundreds of children from a wide region around Durham.
The Civil Justice Clinic: represents a unique partnership between Duke Law and Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC). Working under the supervision of Clinic Director Charles Holton '73 and staff attorneys in LANC's Durham office, students directly represent clients in matters relating to housing, benefits, and protection from domestic violence, among others. Doing so allows them to develop practical litigation skills that are transferable to a wide range of cases and practice areas, while addressing the critical lack of legal representation among low-income North Carolinians.
The Duke Law School Community Enterprise Clinic: is a resource for non-profit organizations and low-wealth entrepreneurs working to improve the quality of life in low-wealth communities through community economic development ("CED") strategies. We represent a wide range of clients to help them overcome barriers, attract resources and improve the quality of life in the communities they serve.
Environmental Law and Policy Clinic: A joint project of Duke Law School and the Nicholas School of the Environment, the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic operates as a live client clinic out of offices in the Duke Law School building in Durham, N.C. Students work under direct supervision of Clinic Director Ryke Longest and Supervising Attorney Michelle Nowlin. Longest worked for fourteen years as an environmental enforcement attorney for the North Carolina Department of Justice prior to coming to Duke.Nowlin is a joint-degree graduate from Duke Law School and the Nicholas School, and worked for the Southern Environmental Law Center in Chapel Hill for 13 years prior to returning to Duke.
The Duke Health Justice Clinic: has been providing free legal assistance to low-income HIV-infected clients since 1996. The Health Justice Clinic offers law students the opportunity to develop practical lawyering skills through direct representation of clients under close attorney supervision. Each semester ten students are enrolled in this clinical law course, delivering over 100 hours of direct client services each. The students receive practical skills training, specialized training in the law relating to HIV/AIDS and cancer, and academic credit. Through their work, the Health Justice Clinic fills a critical need for legal representation of some of the neediest clients in North Carolina.
HIV / AIDS Policy Clinic: Students in this clinic will focus on policy work rather than direct client representation. Students will work on policy initiatives aimed at increasing access to quality, comprehensive health care for low-income individuals living with chronic illnesses like HIV/AIDS. The policy work will focus on barriers to access to care and prevention, including implementation of health care reform in North Carolina, funding disparities throughout the Southern US, HIV-related stigma, criminalization of HIV, and access to HIV medications. Students will work to inform policy recommendations and advocacy strategies at the national, regional, state and county levels in executive, legislative and regulatory arenas. Over the course of a semester, students can expect to accumulate a wealth of hands-on experience in current and emerging health policy issues on the state and federal level. Students will conduct legal and fact-based research to inform policy recommendations, produce in-depth reports, comment letters, presentations to policy makers, and draft legislation or regulatory guidance. Each student will focus on particular policy project(s) and will be required to spend a minimum of 100 hours on their clinic project(s). We will have regular group meetings with students and clinic faculty throughout the semester.
Since 2005, Duke's Guantanamo Defense Clinic has played a key role in framing legal challenges to Guantanamo military commission proceedings. Supervised by Professor Madeline Morris and Lecturing Fellow Gabriela McQuade '10, students work with military and civilian defense counsel to formulate theories, develop research, and draft pleadings and arguments for use at all levels of Guantanamo litigation, from pre-trial motions to Supreme Court litigation. Students also have participated in the legislative arena, working on both the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and forward-looking counterterrorism law and policy. Through these endeavors, the Clinic has amassed a singular institutional memory for the Guantanamo military commission proceedings and associated legislative and executive activity.
The International Human Rights Clinicenables students to critically engage with cutting-edge human rights issues, strategies, tactics, institutions, and law in both domestic and international settings. Through weekly seminars, fieldwork and travel, students develop a range of practical tools and skills needed for human rights advocacy-such as fact-finding, litigation, indicators, reporting, and messaging-that integrate interdisciplinary methods and new technologies. Students also develop competencies related to managing trauma in human rights work, as well as the ethical and accountability challenges of human rights lawyering. Types of clinic projects include those that: apply a human rights framework to domestic issues; involve human rights advocacy abroad; engage with international institutions to advance human rights; and/or address human rights in U.S. foreign policy. Students work closely with local organizations, international NGOs, and U.N. human rights experts and bodies to further the promotion and protection of human rights.
The Duke Law School Start-Up Ventures Clinicprovides legal advice and assistance to seed and early stage entrepreneurial ventures that have not yet raised significant amounts of outside capital. The clinic assists clients in a wide variety of legal matters including formation, intellectual property protection, commercialization strategies and operational issues.
The Wrongful Convictions Clinicinvestigates claims of innocence made by incarcerated felons. Clinic students study the causes of wrongful convictions - mistaken eyewitness identification, false confessions, faulty forensic evidence, "jailhouse snitches" - and, together with the Duke Law Innocence Project, a student organization with the same mission, manage cases and perform a wide range of duties, including interviewing the inmates, locating and interviewing witnesses, gathering documentation, writing legal documents and memos, and working with experts. Most clinic cases do not involve DNA.
Starting Salaries (2014 Graduates Employed Full-Time)
|Private sector (25th-75th percentile)||$140,000-$160,00|
|Median in the private sector||$160,000|
|Median in public service||$60,000|
|Graduates known to be employed at graduation||86.5%|
|Graduates known to be employed ten months after graduation||93%|
|Graduates Employed In||Percentage|
|Business and Industry||5.3%|
|Public Interest Organizations||16.9%|
The Law School permits several types of externships: (1) Individual Externships; (2) Faculty-Mentored Externships; and (3) Integrated Externships. Each type of externship is detailed below.
The Duke Law externship program provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to spend a semester in the United States or abroad in placements at highly competitive human rights institutions. The externship program enables students to receive academic credit for gaining legal experience, beyond that available in the classroom setting, by working under the supervision of a licensed attorney in a governmental or non-profit setting. Externships can be local (e.g., the ACLU Capital Punishment Project), through the Duke in D.C. Program (e.g., the World Bank or Department of State), or international. In recent years, students have participated in high-level human rights placements at institutions such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, and The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.Internships 38-41
The Dean shall have the discretion to allow an international student, or a J.D. student working abroad, in special circumstances, to obtain up to one credit for work performed in a summer legal internship under the supervision of a practicing attorney. No credit obtained under this provision can be counted toward the student's graduation requirements.
A judicial internship or externship (the words are synonymous) is the summer equivalent of a traditional post-graduate judicial clerkship, with the exception that most externships do not pay. Do not let this discourage you. These are excellent jobs and can be especially useful to students intending to pursue a career in litigation or to make legal contacts in a community in which they wish to practice.
The American Bar Association provides $1500 to minority and financially disadvantaged students for internships in ten states under their Judicial Intern Opportunity Program. Other states have programs where law students can be paid to work as a judicial intern. North Carolina has such a program for in-state residents.
Many third-year students will apply to clerk for a judge following graduation. While that application process does not begin until the summer before your third year, an externship can not only help you decide if a clerkship would interest you, but may also provide you with a valuable contact within the judiciary.
Public Interest & Government Summer Internship
Every year, five students from each North Carolina law school are awarded funding for a public interest summer internship. The funding is drawn from the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts program (IOLTA), a non-profit organization created by the North Carolina Bar. Students can obtain a list of public interest employers approved for the IOLTA program from the Career Center or the Public Interest & Pro Bono Office during the Spring Semester. More information about IOLTA grants and the selection process for Duke Law students is available from the Public Interest & Pro Bono Office.
Stanback Internship program
The Stanback Internship program provides Duke students with significant summer work experience in advocacy, environmental policy, grassroots conservation, and applied resource management. The program is run by the Nicholas School of the Environment through the generous support of Mr. & Mrs. Fred Stanback. The program is a partnership between the Nicholas School and targeted environmental organizations.
Stanback Internship positions are unique because they are open only to Duke students. Students earn a stipend of $5,000 for 11 weeks of full-time work. Many of the internships with Stanback sponsorship are for direct legal positions in litigation or corporate work, while others of interest that also build transferable legal skills include those in government or legislative affairs or policy.
Students do not have to be interested in environmental careers long term or have prior environmental experience but should see these internships as opportunities to develop a wide range of skills that are transferable to many practice areas.
For more general information about the Stanback Program, please visit the Nicholas School website. For questions and more information regarding positions available and suitable for law students, please email Emily Sharples or Stella Boswell.