James E. Coleman, Jr.

John S. Bradway Professor of the Practice of Law
Co-director, Wrongful Convictions Clinic


James E. Coleman Jr., the John S. Bradway Professor of the Practice of Law, serves as co-director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic and director of the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility at Duke Law School.  He also served, from 2007 to 2013, as co-director of the Appellate Litigation Clinic, and is a faculty adviser to the Innocence Project at Duke Law.  Coleman teaches classes relating to criminal law, wrongful convictions, and legal ethics.

A native of Charlotte, N.C., Coleman received his AB in 1970 from Harvard University and his JD in 1974 from Columbia University.  His experience includes a judicial clerkship for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, a range of government experience, a year in private practice in New York, and 15 years in private practice in Washington, D.C., the last 12 as a partner in a large law firm. In private practice, he specialized in federal court and administrative litigation; he also represented criminal defendants in capital collateral proceedings.

In 1976, Coleman joined the Legal Services Corporation, where he served for two years as an assistant general counsel. In 1978, he conducted an investigation of two members of Congress as chief counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. In 1980, he served as a deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of Education.

On sabbatical from his law firm, Coleman was a visitor at Duke Law School for the fall semester of 1989, where he taught a seminar on capital punishment. He joined the faculty full-time in 1991 and taught criminal law, research and writing, and a seminar on capital punishment. He returned to private practice in 1993, but continued to teach a seminar on capital punishment as a senior visiting lecturer. He rejoined the faculty full-time in 1996, and added a capital punishment clinic to the courses he taught. He is an active member of the American Bar Association. He has been chair of the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities (1999-2000) and of the ABA Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project (2001 - 2006).

Coleman served as the Law School's Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2002-2005.