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Duke University School of Law

Duke University School of Law Rating: 3.5/5 (4 votes)


In addition to the J.D., the law school offers the LL.M. and S.J.D. Students may take relevant courses in other programs and apply credit toward the J.D.; a maximum of 3 credits may be applied. The following joint degrees may be earned: J.D./LL.M. (Juris Doctor/Master of Laws in comparative and international law), J.D./M.A. (Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in cultural anthropology and English), J.D./M.B.A. (Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration), J.D./M.D. (Juris Doctor/Doctor of Medicine), J.D./M.E.M. (Juris Doctor/Master of Environmental Management), J.D./M.P.P. (Juris Doctor/Master of Public Policy), J.D./M.S. (Juris Doctor/Master of Science in mechanical engineering), J.D./M.T.S. (Juris Doctor/Master of Theological Studies), and J.D./Ph.D. (Juris Doctor/Doctor of Philosophy in political science).

The Duke University School of Law offers concentrations in include intellectual property, international law, national security law, environmental studies, and business. For students interested in structuring study in a particular field, the law school offers individual academic advising on coursework and progression study. In addition, there are six in-house legal clinics. The Guantanamo Defense Clinic assists the Chief Defense Counsel for Guantanamo detainees with trial preparation. In the AIDS Legal Assistance Project, students help clients with HIV/AIDS prepare wills, apply for government benefits, and handle other issues. The Children’s Education Law Clinic represents low-income children in special education, school discipline, and disability benefits cases. The Community Enterprise Law Clinic helps students develop transactional skills in a community development law setting. The Low-Income Tax Payer Clinic helps clients in disputes with the IRS. In Wrongful Convictions, students investigate prisoners’ claims of actual innocence, and in Animal Law, students investigate issues of animal cruelty and pursue animal-protection law reform advocacy. In each clinic, students provide between 75 and 100 hours of client work. Clinics are open to all upper-class students. Seminars are offered in Bioethics, Corporate Reorganization, Entertainment Law, National Security Law, and many others. The law school has an international externship program in which students earn credit for law placements at agencies such as the U.S. Trade Representative Office and the State Department. 3L students can develop a “capstone” project that integrates advanced knowledge in a particular subject with a hands-on practice component. Some capstone projects are extensions of successful clinic experiences; others include writing an appellate brief or preparing congressional testimony with a faculty member, or working with a law reform commission. A student may take up to 3 semester hours of independent research toward their J.D. degree. Rules vary for J.D./LL.M. and LL.M. students. All independent research taken for credit is completed in cooperation with faculty. The Pro Bono Project connects volunteer law students with attorneys in nonprofit and governmental organizations as well as with attorneys engaged in private pro bono practice. Lecture series include the Duke Law Journal Lecture, Intellectual Property “Hot Topics” Conference, Great Lives in the Law, Brainerd Currie Memorial Lecture, the Kip and Meredith Frye Lecture in Intellectual Property, Herbert L. Bernstein Memorial Lecture in International and Comparative Law, and the Rabbi Seymour Siegel Lecture in Medical-Legal Ethics. Study abroad is possible through the Summer Institutes in Transnational Law in Geneva or Hong Kong. This program is required of incoming J.D./LL.M. students, and is also open to J.D. students. Students may accrue up to 6 hours of academic credit. Remediation is provided when needed. Charting Courses is an annual event designed to foster interactive dialogue among Duke Law School’s African-American students, alumni, faculty, and administrators. All minorities are welcome to attend. Duke Law School has over 50 student organizations, with the majority having special interest programming. The most widely taken electives are Business Associations, Evidence, and Intellectual Property.

To earn the J.D., candidates must complete 84 total credits, of which 32 are for required courses. They must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.1 in the required courses. The following first-year courses are required of all students: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Legal Research and Writing, Property, and Torts. Required upper-level courses consist of Ethics/Professional Responsibility. All clinical courses are electives. The required orientation program for first-year students occurs the week before the start of classes, introducing students to the school’s BluePrint to Lead (Lawyer Education and Development) and culminating in a public service outing with upper-level students, faculty, and administration.

In order to graduate, candidates must have a GPA of 2.1, have completed the upper-division writing requirement, and Ethics/Professional Responsibility.


In the fall 2007 first-year class, 4486 applied and 199 enrolled. Figures in the above capsule and in this profile are approximate. Twenty transfers enrolled in a recent year. The median LSAT percentile of the most recent first-year class was 96; the median GPA was 3.72 on a scale of 4.0.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and take the LSAT. No specific undergraduate courses are required. Candidates are not interviewed.

Applicants should submit an application form, LSAT results, transcripts, 2 academic letters of recommendation, and 1 certification from an academic dean. Notification of the admissions decision is on a rolling basis. Check with the school for current application deadlines. The law school uses the LSDAS.

Financial Aid

In a recent year about 79% of current law students received some form of aid. The average annual amount of aid from all sources combined, including scholarships, loans, and work contracts, was $38,680; maximum, $50,042. Awards are based on need and merit. Required financial statement is the FAFSA. Check with the school for current application deadlines. Special funds for minority or disadvantaged students consist of a need-based scholarships. First-year students are notified about their financial aid application shortly after acceptance.


About 46% of the student body are women; 23%, minorities; 12%, African American; 7%, Asian American; 4%, Hispanic; and 14%, race/ethnicity unknown; foreign national-5%. The majority of students come from the South (34%). The average age of entering students is 25; age range is 20 to 38. About 35% of students enter directly from undergraduate school and 10% have a graduate degree. About 1% drop out after the first year for academic or personal reasons; 99% remain to receive a law degree.

Students edit the Duke Law Journal, Law and Contemporary Problems, Alaska Law Review, Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law, Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum, Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy, and Duke Law and Technology Review (eJournal featuring student-written essays called issue briefs or iBriefs), the The Devil’s Advocate, the Alibi<RO, a literary magazine; The Herald (an on-line magazine for students, faculty, and staff); Duke Law Magazine; and Duke Business Journal, the The Duke Law Daily. Moot court competitions include the Jessup International Law Moot Court, National Moot Court, and ABA National Appellate Practice Advocacy Competition. The Moot Court Board organizes and conducts the annual Hardt Cup competition for first-year students and the Dean’s Cup for second – and third-year students. There are more than 50 student organizations including the Community Roundtable, the Duke Student Bar Association and the Duke Blueprint to LEAD (Lawyer Education and Development).

The law school operates on a traditional semester basis. Courses for full-time students are offered days only and must be completed within 3 years. There is no part-time program. New students are admitted in the fall and summer. There is a 9-week summer session. Transferable summer courses are not offered.

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