The majority of Duke Law School graduates choose to launch their careers working for a private law firm. In fact, Duke Law students are heavily recruited by leading national and international law firms. Much of the law firm hiring is done during "Fall OCI," or on-campus interviewing in August/September of the 2L year. For those interested in private practice, students frequently will return to their 2L summer employer following graduation. Our 2Ls are fortunate in that there are typically more than 300 interviewers participating in OCI and each would like to hire multiple Duke students, while there are only 200 2Ls actually interviewing for positions. For statistics regarding the placement and career choices of Duke graduates, click here.
At the same time, a number of our graduates choose to start with smaller firms in cities around the country. The law school participates in the North Carolina Small Employer Job Fair each year, allowing students to apply to these firms with 25 or fewer lawyers within North Carolina, as well as in job fairs in other cities.
If one is considering private practice, we strongly encourage students to do their own research and to initiate contact with law firms that are not participating in OCI or in other job fairs.
Duke students are also fortunate in that opportunities to meet with private practice lawyers abound outside of the interview context. Private law firms often host receptions to which they invite law students; they sponsor events and programs and send firm representatives; lawyers participate on panels or guest lecture; many of our alumni in private practice return for work or for reunions; and the list goes on. Often, relationships formed here lead to future employment or collaboration.
Over time, a large number of Duke Law School graduates choose to change law firms, move in- house, join the federal or a state government, switch to the business side, join a non-profit organization, or to exit the practice entirely. At the same time, a number of our graduates follow the more "traditional" route and choose to remain and grow into a leadership position with the law firm they join upon graduation.