Duke University School of Law

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Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs


The JD Program

Duke Law School is one of the nation’s leading law schools, known for its emphasis on leadership, ethics, scholarly research, professional development, and programs that serve the profession and the community. Duke Law admits a select group of students with diverse backgrounds who have in common a record of academic excellence and outstanding achievements in professional endeavors and public service. Students come to Duke Law from around the country and around the world, and, as alumni, engage in all manner of private and corporate practice and government and public service, both domestically and internationally.

One of the reasons students choose Duke Law is its collaborative environment, where growth is encouraged not only through rigorous scholarship but also through cooperation and support. Because the school is small, students enjoy uniquely close interactions with faculty and fellow students. They are welcomed into a community where the focus is on training and developing the whole person in an atmosphere that values different perspectives, backgrounds, and orientations.

Learn more about the JD program at Duke Law

Faculty

Duke Law professors are leaders in a broad range of fields and highly regarded for their research, writing, and public service. A community of scholars, they are collegial, collaborative, and interdisciplinary, and many hold joint appointments or collaborate with colleagues in other Duke schools and departments. 

They also care deeply about helping students learn, both in the classroom and beyond, devote substantial time to students' academic and professional development, and continue to celebrate successes and provide counsel through difficult times once students become practicing lawyers.

The deep and ongoing engagement of our faculty with the subjects that they study and teach and the students they mentor creates an intellectual excitement that is palpable in our classrooms and hallways and is the foundation for an atmosphere of collaboration and respect that defines our school culture.

JD/LLM in International and Comparative Law

Duke Law offers three unique dual-degree programs that allow students to obtain a JD and Master of Laws (LLM) or Master of Arts (MA) degree concurrently in just three years of coursework. These degrees allow students to develop specialized areas of expertise and skills in international and comparative law, entrepreneurship and the law, or bioethics and science policy.

JD/LLM in International and Comparative Law

This program prepares students for careers in international law through substantive academic courses, foreign language development, and work and study-abroad opportunities. Students take international law during the 1L year and can access an extensive curriculum of international and comparative law classes in the upper-class years, including clinics. In the summer following the first year, students participate in the four-week Duke-Leiden Institute in Global and Transnational Law in Leiden and The Hague, the Netherlands, and are able to work in an international placement during the other half of the summer. Summer- or semester-long international externship placements are available in the upper-class years.

JD/LLM in Law and Entrepreneurship

Duke Law offers three unique dual-degree programs that allow students to obtain a JD and Master of Laws (LLM) or Master of Arts (MA) degree concurrently in just three years of coursework. These degrees allow students to develop specialized areas of expertise and skills in international and comparative law, entrepreneurship and the law, or bioethics and science policy.

JD/LLM in Law and Entrepreneurship

The JD/LLMLE prepares students to advise or lead entrepreneurial companies. The program takes advantage of Duke’s strong ties to the entrepreneurial community in Durham and the Research Triangle, which provides externship and networking opportunities. This program includes an immersion experience with a start-up company during the summer following the first year. Other opportunities include participation in the Duke Start-Up Ventures Clinic, which advises local entrepreneurial companies; campus programming such as the Duke Start-Up Challenge; and specialized coursework devoted to understanding the unique funding, business, and legal needs of start-up companies and entrepreneurial clients.

JD/MA in Bioethics and Science Policy

Duke Law offers three unique dual-degree programs that allow students to obtain a JD and Master of Laws (LLM) or Master of Arts (MA) degree concurrently in just three years of coursework. These degrees allow students to develop specialized areas of expertise and skills in international and comparative law, entrepreneurship and the law, or bioethics and science policy.

JD/MA in Bioethics and Science Policy

The JD/MA in Bioethics and Science Policy prepares students for careers at the intersection of law, science, and technology, from opportunities in government to positions at law firms, including in highly specialized fields such as genomics, neuroscience, public health, and clinical research. JD/MA students can choose specialized Intellectual Property or Health Law & Policy tracks or create their own based on specialized interests. The capstone requirement for the master’s is satisfied through a practicum, completed during a full summer after the first year in Washington, DC, or other locations, incorporating an externship in a federal agency, nonprofit, or other similar placement, and an associated seminar.

Other Dual-Degree Opportunities

As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Duke University offers top-notch programs in a wide variety of disciplines. Law students may take advantage of these strengths by participating in one of several dual-degree programs offered in conjunction with other schools or departments at Duke University, as well as a three-year JD/DESS (Diplôme d’études supérieures spécialisées) in global business law in partnership with Université Paris I and Sciences Po in Paris.

Duke Law offers a JD/MBA in conjunction with the Fuqua School of Business, with a special option to complete the program in seven semesters; a JD/Master of Theological Studies with the Divinity School; a JD/Master of Environmental Management with the Nicholas School of the Environment; a JD/MD with the School of Medicine; and a JD/Master of Public Policy with the Sanford School of Public Policy.

Public Interest and Pro Bono

Whether you aspire to become a public interest lawyer, incorporate pro bono work into your practice, or serve your community in other ways, you will find the resources at Duke to reach your goals. The value of service is core to the profession and central to the Duke Law experience.

Duke Law is committed to providing students with experiential learning opportunities that not only contribute to their professional development, but also stress the value of service. Students provide law-related services in a broad array of areas including criminal law, environmental law, and civil rights, and work with Legal Aid, nonprofit advocacy groups, government, and private attorneys in their pro bono work. Whether students opt to take on significant commitments with student pro bono groups such as the Guardian ad Litem program or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, the Public Interest and Pro Bono program gives them a chance to engage intellectually and reflect on the value of service.

Legal Clinics

Duke Law's clinical program, which includes 11 clinical courses and a robust and rigorous externship offering, offers students a carefully structured opportunity to build their own experiential bridge between the classroom and practice. Operating collectively as a public interest law firm in multiple distinct practice areas and housed in its own wing at Duke Law School, the clinical program provides students with challenging opportunities designed to deepen their substantive legal knowledge, strengthen their lawyering skills, and forge distinct professional identities.

Current clinics include the Appellate Litigation Clinic, Children’s Law Clinic, Civil Justice Clinic, Community Enterprise Clinic, Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, First Amendment Clinic, Health Justice Clinic, Immigrant Rights Clinic, International Human Rights Clinic, Start-Up Ventures Clinic, and Wrongful Convictions Clinic.

Duke in DC and Local Externships

The Externship Program allows 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 nonprofit setting. Students can choose to participate in an integrated externship that combines fieldwork with a seminar course, such as the Duke in DC program or the Federal Public Defender’s Office Externship, or in an individual externship with a North Carolina–area government entity, agency, or office; nonprofit organization; or judicial office of their choosing.

The Duke in DC externship program combines a full-time externship in Washington, DC, with a seminar course focused on federal regulation or federal policymaking. Externship placements include federal government agencies, NGOs and advocacy organizations, and congressional committees on Capitol Hill. The course, taught in Washington by Duke faculty with deep experience in government and policy, examines the legislative process and helps synthesize the substantive legal issues students encounter in their externships with the theory presented in texts, while also providing students an opportunity to reflect on their real-world practice experience.

Wintersession

Wintersession offers students many opportunities for professional skills development. Short, hands-on courses are offered for a half-credit during a four-day period immediately prior to the spring semester. Programs focus on critical professional skills such as drafting contracts, taking a deposition, creating a business entity, and more. Wintersession also provides students with an opportunity to interact with, and learn from, accomplished Duke Law alumni and other lawyers who teach the courses.

Writing Program

Duke Law has one of the nation’s best and most comprehensive writing programs. Eight full-time faculty teach the mandatory first-year writing, analysis, and research course as well as a range of upper-level courses on specific writing skills such as judicial writing, writing in civil practice, and writing for electronic discovery. The writing faculty support students in all of their writing endeavors, helping them to develop and perfect the skills necessary to produce top-quality legal writing.

International Programs

Duke Law has a large and active international law program, which includes a broad array of academic courses, study-abroad opportunities, the Duke Law International Internship program, the Duke Journal of International and Comparative Law, the Duke Law International Human Rights Clinic, the Duke-Leiden Institute in Global and Transnational Law, and several degree programs, such as the JD/LLM in International and Comparative Law, a robust LLM program for international lawyers, and an SJD program for international scholars. Duke Law’s Center for International and Comparative Law facilitates events, workshops, and scholarly programs focusing on various aspects of international law, as well as seminars that focus on human rights around the world.

Summer Institute in Leiden and The Hague

Each summer, Duke Law School and Leiden University sponsor the Duke-Leiden Institute in Global and Transnational Law in Leiden and The Hague, the Netherlands. The four-week residential program is designed for students and young professionals interested in studying international and comparative law. It also provides an excellent foundation for studying law in the United States. Courses are taught in English by faculty from the United States and from other countries and augmented by visits to international organizations headquartered in the area.

The Duke Law International Internship

JD/LLM students, and others by application, are able to participate in an internship in an international law firm, government or nongovernmental agency, nonprofit, or business during the summer after the first year of law school. Students generally participate in the Duke-Leiden Institute in Global and Transnational Law for half the summer and the internship for the other half. The Office of International Studies assists in securing placements. Students are also encouraged to identify opportunities that meet their own academic and professional goals.

International Study Abroad and Externships

Duke Law supports study-abroad arrangements with 20 top international universities around the world. Duke Law also offers international externship opportunities at public sector institutions that engage in international work. Duke has preapproved externships, but students are also encouraged to submit their own proposals.

Student Life

Life at Duke Law

Students and faculty at Duke Law consistently rave about the quality of life they enjoy in Durham and at Duke. Thanks to a low cost of living, students are often able to live in spacious apartments with numerous amenities. Durham is well-known for its excellent restaurants, farm-to-table cuisine, and a burgeoning food-truck movement. As one of numerous colleges and universities in the region, Duke provides access to a thriving social scene, world-class arts and entertainment, and professional and collegiate sporting events. The region’s temperate climate makes outdoor activity possible year-round, and Durham is within a few hours’ drive of the pristine Atlantic coastline, the Great Smoky Mountains, and Washington, DC.

Career Placement and Bar Passage

Comprehensive Career Planning

Duke Law graduates find employment in all sectors of the legal profession and in all parts of the United States and the world. Many begin their careers in law firms. Top law firms from across the country interview on campus each year, and many students receive multiple offers. Others pursue judicial clerkships—about 20 to 25 percent are awarded a clerkship immediately upon graduation or in the early years of their careers—or work for government agencies or business enterprises. The school is dedicated to assisting every student in successfully launching his or her career, and typically 95 percent or more of each class is employed within 10 months of graduation.

Duke places special emphasis on support for students interested in careers in public service. Staff from the Career Center’s Office of Public Interest Advising and the Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono help students find opportunities both during and after law school. The law school provides financial support for these goals with guaranteed grants to subsidize summer employment and a Loan Repayment Assistance Program for graduates who enter a life of public service.

The award-winning Duke Blueprint to LEAD provides structure to students’ legal education and professional development by challenging them to engage intellectually, embody integrity, lead with intention, build relationships, serve the community, and live with purpose.

Learn more about career placement and bar passage at Duke Law

Tuition and Aid

Duke Law awards three-year scholarships to entering law students. All scholarships are based on either merit (defined broadly to include academic excellence as well as a range of other personal accomplishments and experiences) or a combination of merit and financial need. Scholarship awards are guaranteed for three years of law school, assuming students remain in good academic standing. These scholarships are funded from an extensive number of donor-funded, distinguished named scholarships, some of which are highlighted below, as well as the General Scholarship Fund.  The Mordecai Scholarship program provides between three and six full-tuition, merit-based scholarships annually. Neither the Mordecai Scholarship or named scholarships require a separate application - all admitted students are considered for them during the scholarship review process.

Learn more about tuition & aid at Duke Law

Admission Decisions: Beyond the Numbers

Admission to Duke Law School is highly competitive. A hallmark of Duke Law is a close-knit group of students and faculty, and we seek candidates who will be enthusiastic and active members of our community. Students are chosen not only for their potential for academic success but also because of qualities that will enhance the overall character of the class.

Admitted applicants are eligible for consideration for merit- and need-based scholarship awards. A select group of outstanding entering students are chosen each year as Mordecai Scholars and receive a full-tuition scholarship. Mordecai Scholars possess a record of extraordinary leadership and scholarly achievement prior to law school and the personal qualities that are likely to result in community involvement and leadership.

Learn more about admission at Duke Law

Admitted Applicant Profile

25-75% UGPA Range at Duke:

3.70 to 3.89

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Duke:

167 to 169

120
135
150
165
180

25-75% UGPA Range at Duke:

3.70 to 3.89

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Duke:

167 to 169

120
135
150
165
180

25-75% UGPA Range at Duke:

3.70 to 3.89

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Duke:

167 to 169

120
135
150
165
180

Contact Information

210 Science Drive, Box 90393,
Durham, NC 27708-0393,
United States