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Duke University School of Law

Duke University School of Law
Logo of Duke University
Parent school Duke University
Established 1868 as Trinity College School of Law, 1924 as Duke University School of Law[1]
School type Private
Parent endowment $7.0 billion
Dean David F. Levi
Location Durham, North Carolina, USA
Enrollment 640 JD, 75 LLM
USNWR ranking 10
Bar pass rate 97%, 100%

Duke University School of Law (also known as Duke Law School or Duke Law) is the law school and a constituent academic unit of Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, United States. One of Duke's 10 schools and colleges, the School of Law began as the Trinity College School of Law in 1868. In 1924, following the renaming of Trinity College to Duke University, the school was renamed the Duke University School of Law. The School offers programs in Business, Comparative and International Law, Environmental Law, and Intellectual Property, among others.

Duke Law School is one of the 14 law schools that consistently rank at the top of U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings.[2] Notable alumni include former U.S. President Richard Nixon. According to Duke's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 85.9% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[3]


  • Reputation 1
  • Admissions 2
  • History 3
  • Rankings 4
  • Facilities 5
  • Law journals at Duke 6
  • Clinics 7
  • Joint-degree programs 8
  • Centers and programs 9
  • Employment 10
  • Costs 11
  • Notable people 12
    • Alumni 12.1
    • Faculty 12.2
  • References 13
  • External links 14


Duke Law is routinely ranked within the top 14 law schools in the country, and is a member of the "T-14" law schools, a prestigious group of 14 schools that have national recognition. Duke Law along with only two other T-14 schools (Harvard and Yale) has graduated a President of the United States. In 2011, law firm recruiters ranked Duke Law as the 8th best law school in the country.[4] In addition, Duke Law was ranked by Forbes as having graduated lawyers with the 2nd highest median mid-career salary amount.[5] On average, 95% of students are employed at graduation, with a median starting salary in the private sector of over $160,000.[6] Over 400 law firms annually offer positions to Duke Law students.

In the Above The Law Rankings, Duke Law ranks within the top ten law schools at #6 based on long-term employment data, large firm placement, and federal clerkship placements.[7]

Duke Law has the highest New York Bar Exam pass rate of all US law schools. A reported 97% of students that take the exam pass at first sitting. Duke's overall student pass rate (based on two attempts) is 100%. This record is compared with all law schools across the nation, where on average 77% of students pass the New York Bar exam on their first sitting.[8]


Duke Law is one of the most selective law schools in the United States. The law school is one of few that have actually experienced an increase in law school applications despite an overall national decline of applications in recent years. For the class entering in the fall of 2014, 221 students enrolled out of 5,358 applicants. The 25th and 75th LSAT percentiles for the 2014 entering class were 166 and 170, respectively, with a median of 169 (top 3% of test takers worldwide). The 25th and 75th undergraduate GPA percentiles were 3.66 and 3.85, respectively, with a median of 3.77.[9] The School has approximately 640 J.D. students and 75 students in the LL.M. and S.J.D. programs.


Built in 1929, the Languages Building (as it is currently known) was the home of Duke Law from 1930 to 1962
In 1855 Trinity College, the precursor to Duke University, began offering lectures on Constitutional and International Law (during this time, Trinity was located in Randolph County, North Carolina). In 1865, Trinity's Law Department was officially founded, while 1868 marked the official chartering of the School of Law. After a ten-year hiatus from 1894 to 1904, James B. Duke and Benjamin Newton Duke provided the endowment to reopen the school, with Samuel Fox Mordecai as its senior professor (by this time, Trinity College had relocated to Durham, North Carolina). When Trinity College became part of the newly created Duke University upon the establishment of the Duke Endowment in 1924, the School of Law continued as the Duke University School of Law. In 1930, the Law School moved from the Carr Building on Duke's East Campus to a new location on the main quad of West Campus. During the three years preceding this move, the size of the law library tripled. Among other well-known alumni, President Richard Nixon graduated from the school in 1937. In 1963, the school moved to its present location on Science Drive in West Campus.


  • 1st Best Quality of Life according to the Princeton Review[10]
  • 2nd Highest Median Mid-Career Salary[5]
  • 2nd Best Professors according to Princeton Review[11]
  • 3rd Best Law School (overall) according to the Best Law Schools ranking published by the National Jurist in 2013.
  • 4th Best Classroom Experience according to Princeton Review[10]
  • 6th Best Law School according to CNN Money [12]
  • 6th Best Law School for Federal Clerkships according to National Jurist[13]
  • 6th Best Law School for Moot Court according to National Jurist[14]
  • 8th Best Law School for BigLaw Hiring according to National Law Journal[15]
  • 8th Best Law School as Ranked by Law Firm Recruiters[4]
  • 8th Most BigLaw Partners in Atlanta according to National Jurist[13]
  • 10th Best for Standard of Living according to National Jurist[16]
  • 12th Most Median Grant Money and Percentage of Students Receiving Grants according to National Jurist[13]
  • 12th in Employability by Vault [17]
  • 17th Best Law Review according to National Jurist[18]
  • 19th Best Law School Library according to National Jurist[19]


The present location of the Duke University School of Law, on Science Drive

The Trinity College School of Law was located in the Carr Building prior to the renaming of Trinity to Duke University in 1924. The Duke University Law School was originally housed in what is now the Languages Building, built in 1929 on Duke's West Campus quad.

The Law School is presently located at the corner of Science Drive and Towerview Road and was constructed in the mid-1960s.

The first addition to the Law School was completed in 1994, and a dark polished granite façade was added to the rear exterior of the building, enclosing the interior courtyard.

In 2004, Duke Law School broke ground on a building construction project officially completed in fall 2008. The renovation and addition offers larger and more technologically advanced classrooms, expanded community areas and eating facilities, known as the Star Commons, improved library facilities, and more study options for students.

Law journals at Duke

The Trinity College School of Law was located in the Carr Building prior to the renaming of Trinity to Duke University in 1924

Duke Law School publishes nine academic journals or law reviews, which are, in order of their founding:

  • Law and Contemporary Problems
  • Duke Law Journal
  • Alaska Law Review
  • Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law
  • Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum
  • Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy
  • Duke Law & Technology Review
  • Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy
  • Duke Forum for Law & Social Change

Law and Contemporary Problems is Duke Law's oldest law journal, though it was originally faculty-edited until the 1970s.

The Duke Law Journal was the first student-edited publication at Duke Law and publishes articles from leading scholars on topics of general legal interest.

Duke publishes the Alaska Law Review in a special agreement with the Alaska Bar Association, as the state of Alaska has no law school.

The Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy (DJGLP) is the preeminent journal for its subject matter in the world.

The Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy was founded by members of the Class of 2006—the six members of the inaugural executive board were Sarah Coble, Chris Fulmer, Richard Goldberg, John Lomas, Scott Mikkelsen, and John Plecnik. Professors Erwin Chemerinsky and Christopher H. Schroeder served as the ConLaw journal's inaugural faculty advisors.

The Duke Forum for Law & Social Change was founded in 2008 and features articles covering a wide range of social issues, from immigration law and policy to poverty initiatives.

The Law School provides free online access to all of its academic journals, including the complete text of each journal issue dating back to January 1996 in a fully searchable HTML format and in Adobe Acrobat format (PDF). New issues are posted on the web simultaneously with print publication.

In 2005, the Law School was featured in the June 6 unveiling of the Open Access Law Program, an initiative of Creative Commons, for its work in pioneering open access to legal scholarship.


  • AIDS Legal Project
  • Appellate Litigation Clinic
  • Children's Law Clinic
  • Community Enterprise Clinic
  • Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
  • Guantanamo Defense Clinic
  • International Human Rights Clinic
  • Wrongful Convictions Clinic
  • Start-Up Ventures Clinic

Joint-degree programs

The School offers joint-degree programs with the Duke University Graduate School, the Duke Divinity School, Fuqua School of Business, the Medical School, the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, the Pratt School of Engineering, and the Sanford School of Public Policy; and a JD/LLM dual degree program in International and Comparative Law. Approximately 25% of students are enrolled in joint-degree programs.

Centers and programs

  • The Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility promotes justice in criminal cases by identifying, remedying, and preventing the wrongful conviction of innocent people.
  • The Center for International & Comparative Law coordinates and supports Duke Law's programs, resources, and events in the areas of international law, comparative law, and U.S. foreign relations law.
  • The Center of Judicial Studies mission is to advance the study of the judiciary through interdisciplinary scholarship and cooperative thinking from multiple perspectives. The Center brings together judges, researchers, teachers and theorists in order to foster an interdisciplinary exploration of the judicial process that helps both judges and scholars to better understand the judicial process and to generation ideas for how it might be improved. The Center hosts a Masters of Laws (LL.M) in Judicial Studies for sitting judges.
  • The Center for Law, Economics and Public Policy organizes workshops, conferences, and other scholarly activities in the area of law and economics, with a particular focus on the intersection between welfare economics and normative questions regarding legal frameworks, institutions and doctrines.
  • The Center for the Study of the Public Domain advances research and scholarship on the contributions of the public domain to speech, culture, science and innovation. The center promotes debate about the balance needed in the intellectual property system and works to translate academic research into public policy solutions.
  • The Center on Law, Ethics and National Security promotes education and discussion of the complex and diverse issues involved in national security, such as the legal and policy implications of counterterrorism operations at home and abroad, the role of the respective branches in security matters, the international law of armed conflict, the impact of security issues on international business endeavors, and the ethical issues of the practice of national security law. The Center's Executive Director is retired Major General Charles Dunlap.
  • The Center on Law, Race and Politics is a multidisciplinary initiative created to support research, public engagement, teaching, and activities at the intersection of law and race; law and politics; and law, race, and politics.
  • The Program in Public Law promotes a better understanding of the nation's public institutions, of the Constitutional framework in which they function, and of the principles and laws that apply to the work of public officials through scholarship, workshops, conferences, and curricular programs. The program houses the Duke in DC externship program, which includes noted faculty such as former U.S. Senator [Ted_Kaufman].
  • Voices of American Law produces high-quality educational materials about the Supreme Court and its role in American society through a video series focused on the stories of the real people behind the court's opinions.
  • The Center for Genome Ethics, Law and Policy supports and facilitates campus-wide research and scholarship that explores the impact of genome sciences on all aspects of life, human health, and social policy.
  • The Global Financial Markets Center provides a forum for intellectual exchanges on issues of law, regulation, and policy that shape capital markets.
  • The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions engages with decision makers in government, the private sector, and the nonprofit community to develop innovative and nonpartisan solutions to critical environmental challenges.


According to Duke's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 85.9% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[3] Duke's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 11.6%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[20]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Duke for the 2013-2014 academic year is $77,750.[21] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $285,725.[22]

Notable people



President Nixon
  • David Addington, '81 – Chief of Staff and former legal counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney
  • Claude Allen, '90 – former Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy
  • Daniel T. Blue, Jr. '73 – North Carolina State Senator and former Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives
  • Susan Bysiewicz, '86 – Former Connecticut Secretary of State
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Jim Courter '66 – former U.S. Representative from New Jersey[23]
  • Michael Elston, '94 – former Chief of Staff & Counselor, Office of the Deputy Attorney General
  • Nick Galifianakis, '53 – U.S. Representative from North Carolina
  • Tom Grady, '82 – U.S. Representative from Florida
  • Jaime Aleman Healy, '79 – Panama's Ambassador to the United States
  • Jerry Meek, '97 – former Chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party
  • Richard Nixon, '37 – 37th President of the United States
  • Deanna T. Okun, ’90 – Chair, U.S. International Trade Commission
  • Manuel Sager, ’85 – Swiss Ambassador to the United States
  • Brig. General Calvin L. Scovell III, '77 – Inspector General, Department of Transportation
  • Kenneth Starr, '73 – Solicitor General, Independent Counsel during the Clinton Administration
  • William B. Umstead, '21 – former Governor of North Carolina, U.S. Senator from North Carolina, U.S. Representative from North Carolina, Chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party
  • Javier Bedoya, ’11 – Deputy Mayor of San Isidro Lima


  • Jan Mark Adler, '78 – U.S. Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
  • Garrett E. Brown Jr. ’68 – Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • Robert L. Clifford, '50 – former Associate Justice, New Jersey Supreme Court
  • Curtis L. Collier, '74 – Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
  • Donald Dietrich, '52 – U.S. Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • Allyson Kay Duncan, '75 – U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
  • Christine M. Durham, '71 – Chief Justice, Utah Supreme Court
  • Haley J. Fromholz '67 – former Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court
  • Amy D. Hogue, '79 – Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court
  • Sam Glasscock, III, '83 – Vice Chancellor, Delaware Court of Chancery
  • Todd M. Hughes, '92 – U.S. Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, first openly gay U.S. Circuit Court Judge
  • Thomas C. Kleinschmidt, '67 – former Chief Judge, Arizona Court of Appeals
  • Carolyn Kuhl, '77 – Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court
  • Denise Majette, '79 – former U.S. Representative from Georgia, former Georgia state judge
  • Graham Calder Mullen, '69 – U.S. District Judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
  • William H. Pauley III, '77 – U.S. District Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • John A. Reed, '56 – former U.S. District Judge, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • Kenneth Starr, '73 – former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
  • Nita Stormes, '79 – U.S. Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
  • Laura Taylor, '83 – U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
  • Gerald B. Tjoflat, '57 – U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • Ernest C. Torres, '68 – U.S. District Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island
  • Peter Verniero, '84 – former Associate Justice, New Jersey Supreme Court & Former New Jersey Attorney General
  • Gerald T. Wetherington, '63 – former Chief Judge, 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida
  • Charles Wiggins, '76 – Justice, Washington Supreme Court
  • Don R. Willett, '92 – Texas Supreme Court Justice
  • Mary Ellen C. Williams, '77 – Judge, United States Court of Federal Claims



Law Firms


  • Dan McCarthy, '83 – JAG Chief Prosecutor, United States Navy
  • Brig. General Calvin L. Scovell III, '77 – former Senior Judge, U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals
  • Wang Shengli, '86 – Fleet Admiral, People's Liberation Army- Navy, China


Charlie Rose, PBS TV Host



Notable faculty including a sitting Supreme Court Justice, a former United States Senator, 14 former Supreme Court clerks, a former federal judge and a former Judge Advocate General.

  • Katharine T. Bartlett, immediate past Dean (2000–2007) and A. Kenneth Pye Professor of Law
  • James Boyle, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law (Intellectual Property and Legal Theory)
  • Paul D. Carrington, former Dean and currently Chadwick Professor of Law (civil procedure and international litigation)
  • Richard A. Danner, Archibald C. and Frances Fulk Rufty Research Professor of Law
  • Walter E. Dellinger III, Douglas Blount Maggs Professor of Law, Fmr. Acting Solicitor General of the United States (1996–1997), Fmr. Law Clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black
  • David F. Levi, Dean, former Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California (1994–2007), Fmr. Law Clerk to Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Son of Fmr. U.S. Attorney General Edward H. Levi.
  • Christopher H. Schroeder, Charles S. Murphy Professor of Law (administrative law), Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy (OLP), Fmr. Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy, Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Scott Silliman, Professor of the Practice of Law (national security law, military law, and the law of armed conflict)
  • Michael Tigar, Professor of the Practice of Law (criminal law), Fmr. Law Clerk to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan,
Former faculty


  1. ^ [1], Timeline of Duke Law. Accessed November 12, 2007.
  2. ^ Where Are the US News Top 30 Law Schools of 1996 Now?, April 1, 2008, Law Librarian Blog
  3. ^ a b "Employment Statistics". 
  4. ^ a b [2]
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ a b [5] Princeton Review
  11. ^ >Princeton Review
  12. ^ [6]
  13. ^ a b c [7] preLaw by National Jurist Winter 2012
  14. ^ [8]
  15. ^ [9]
  16. ^ [10] National Jurist September 2011
  17. ^ [11]
  18. ^ [12]
  19. ^ [13] preLaw by National Jurist Spring 2010
  20. ^ "Duke University Profile". 
  21. ^ "Tuition and Expenses". 
  22. ^ "Duke University Profile". 
  23. ^ James Andrew Courter, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed September 6, 2007.
  24. ^

External links

  • Duke University School of Law
  • U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Duke University School of Law
  • Duke University School of Law at DMOZ

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