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Search and explore Duke Law's wide variety of courses that comprise nearly every area of legal theory and practice. Contact the Director of Academic Advising to confirm whether a course satisfies a graduation requirement in any particular semester.

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NOTE: Course offerings change. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.

The list of classes marked Spring 2023 is incomplete and is being regularly updated.

JD/LLM in International & Comparative Law

JD/LLM in Law & Entrepreneurship

International LLM - 1 year

Certificate in Public interest and Public Service Law

Areas of Study & Practice

Clear all filters 13 courses found.
Number Course Title Credits Degree Requirements Semesters Taught Methods of Evaluation

321

The Law and Policy of Innovation: the Life Sciences 3
  • JD SRWP
  • JD elective
  • LLM-LE (JD) elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • IntlLLM writing
  • IntlLLM Business Cert
  • IntllLLM IP Cert
  • Spring 21
  • Spring 22
  • Spring 23
  • Reflective Writing
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Class participation

This course analyzes the legal and policy regimes that shape the introduction of new products, processes, and services in the life science industries. Innovation in biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, health services, and health care delivery is central to the heavily regulated life sciences sector, and thus the sector offers a window into multiple intersections of scientific innovation, regulatory policy, and law.  Innovation in this sector is also shaped by multiple bodies of law (e.g. intellectual property law, FDA law, federal and state-based insurance and professional regulation, antitrust, tax), each with its own private and public constituencies, and therefore offers an opportunity to assess how different bodies of law approach the common issue of innovation.  Although this course focuses on innovation in the life science industries, this focus will produce lessons for innovation policy in other regulated and less-regulated industries. 

370

Modes of Legal Argument 3
  • JD SRWP, option
  • JD elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • IntlLLM writing
  • Spring 21
  • Fall 21
  • Research paper option, 25+ pages
  • Research and/or analytical paper(s), 15 pages
  • Class participation

Introduction to Legal Theory: Modes of Legal Argument is a 3-credit seminar with enrollment capped at 12, and a final paper that can be used to satisfy the Substantial Research and Writing Project. 

The course will be organized around a set of essential questions, all vital to the ways we argue about the law. The major schools of legal and constitutional interpretation will be explored.  For example, we will discuss formalism and textualism, purposivism, originalism, process theory, economic analysis, realism and legal pluralism. Each of these theories has an answer to the question, what is the right way to interpret a legal text?  Beyond the text, what modes, or forms of argument are permissible, or mandatory, within our legal tradition?   But each of those inquiries depends on deeper questions. Where does law come from? What, if anything, makes it legitimate? It will also deal with some concrete examples in which those modes of legal argument are tested and deployed:  Does the law create the market economy, or is there a pre-existing template for market economies that frames and limit the interpretation of the laws that govern those markets?  The public/private distinction is central to a liberal society: do we have a consistent or principled way of interpreting those boundaries? How should our understanding of law be affected by the fact that we live in a democratic country, a free-market country, a country with a written constitution? We will consider and approach these questions by way of major schools of legal thought, testing the theoretical approaches against  concrete  problems the legal system has had to address, and the shapes these problems take today. 

Requirements:  The class requirements include regular Sakai postings on the readings.  Those who are using the paper to satisfy the Substantial Research and Writing Paper will write a 25-30 page final paper on an approved topic, going through the normal process of first draft, conference and revision.  Those who are not will write a 15 page final paper, either on an approved topic of your choice or on one assigned by the instructor.    No prior exposure to legal theory, philosophy or political theory is required.

473

Scholarly Writing Workshop 3
  • JD SRWP
  • JD elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • IntlLLM writing
  • Fall 20
  • Spring 21
  • Fall 21
  • Spring 22
  • Fall 22
  • Spring 23
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Class participation
  • Other

In a workshop led by a faculty member, students will produce an original analytic paper of substantial length (ordinarily at least 30 pages). Papers must involve significant and thorough independent research, be well-written, and provide appropriate sourcing. Participants are free to choose any topic that may be addressed seriously in an article-length piece and that may be written during one semester. Papers produced in the workshop are expected to satisfy the JD or LLM substantial research and writing project requirement.

In the workshop, participants will learn about the conventional features of academic legal writing, conduct research into and hone their topics, write and give each other feedback on first and second drafts, and complete a final draft of their paper. The faculty member leading the workshop will also provide feedback and will, as appropriate to each participant's paper topic, facilitate introductions to other faculty who may be of assistance.

Under Law School Rule 3-1 as approved in May 2022, this course will conform to a 3.5 median unless special circumstances merit exceeding that median, but it will not be subject to distributional bands outside the 3.5 median because grading is not based on a uniform metric.

Attendance is required at the first class meeting and students should come prepared with ideas for possible paper topics. Those wishing to drop the course must do so within one day following the first class.

International LLM students must be pre-certified to enroll. Interested students should check with the Office of International Studies before enrolling.

541

Nonprofit Organizations 3
  • JD SRWP, option
  • JD elective
  • LLM-LE (JD) elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • IntlLLM Business Cert
  • PIPS elective
  • Fall 20
  • Fall 21
  • Fall 22
  • Final Exam, option
  • Research paper, 40 pages

The subject of the course is the diverse sector of the economy composed of nonprofit organizations, and, in particular, the organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Topics to be covered include their function and role in society; issues related to their formation, governance and regulation; the tax laws and regulations specific to exempt organizations; and policy issues regarding the sector.

544

The Collective Action Constitution 3
  • JD SRWP
  • JD elective
  • LLM-ICL (JD) writing
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • IntlLLM writing
  • PIPS elective
  • Fall 20
  • Spring 23
  • Reflective Writing
  • Class participation

Collective action problems arise where every member of a group has a choice between alternatives, and if each member acts in a narrowly self-interested fashion or all members are unable to coordinate their actions, the outcome will be worse for all members by their own estimations than it will be if all or some of them choose another alternative.  Collective action problems are caused either by externalities (e.g., a prisoners’ dilemma), or by coordination difficulties (e.g., deciding which side of the road to drive on).  This seminar will examine the extent to which the United States Constitution can be understood as solving collective action problems that arise for the states and as empowering the states themselves and the federal government to solve such problems.  Topics will include:

  1. the number and importance of multi-state collective action problems both today and at the time of the creation of the Constitution;
  2. collective action theory in the social sciences;
  3. the promise and perils of relying on interstate compacts and other agreements to solve multi-state collective action problems;
  4. the necessity of federal power to solve such problems and a general examination of how Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution authorizes Congress to do so;
  5. the Interstate Commerce Clause and related structural principles (i.e., the anti-commandeering doctrine and the dormant commerce doctrine);
  6. the Taxing and Spending Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause;
  7. the many other parts of the Constitution that can be explained to a significant extent by the logic of collective action (e.g., the Foreign and Indian Commerce Clauses; Article I, Section 10; the Treaty Clause of Article II; certain heads of federal jurisdiction in Article III, especially diversity and suits between states; the Privileges and Immunities Clause and the Territories Clause, both of Article IV; Article V’s requirements for constitutional amendments; and Article VII’s requirements for ratification of the Constitution);
  8. the inability of the collective action theory of the Constitution to explain certain parts of the Constitution, especially the Reconstruction Amendments, which follow a different structural logic;
  9. various challenges to the theory (e.g., that partisan polarization and congressional dysfunction undermine federal power to solve collective action problems; that the theory threatens to collapse the text of the Constitution into its underlying purposes; that the theory limits federal power too much (according to legal liberals) or not enough (according to legal conservatives); and that claims about whether collective action is rational or likely to occur are historically contingent and normatively contestable; and
  10. why the theory should matter to judges, elected officials, academics in several disciplines, and engaged citizens.

Readings will draw from The Federalist Papers and other Founding materials (e.g., the Articles of Confederation, Madison’s Vices memorandum, various letters of the Founders, the Virginia Plan, and the Constitution); book chapters (by, e.g., Akhil Amar, Jack Balkin, Daniel Farber, Jack Rakove, and Neil Siegel); law review articles (by, e.g., Robert Stern, Donald Regan, Steven Calabresi, Robert Bork, Robert Cooter, Neil Siegel, and Ernest Young); U.S. Supreme Court opinions from the Marshall Court to the present; and select draft chapters of my book manuscript.

Students will be required to write a 30-page research paper on a topic related to the substance of the seminar, which may be used to fulfill the JD SRWP degree requirements, the LLM writing requirement, or the special writing requirement for JD/LLMs. 

Grades will be based on the quality of students’ course participation (40%) and the quality of their research papers (60%).

545

Urban Legal History 3
  • JD SRWP
  • JD elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • IntlLLM writing
  • Fall 22
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Class participation

Urban Legal History is a research seminar which will focus on the legal issues relating to Durham's political, social, and economic development. The class will involve intensive study of primary and secondary materials, and will require students to produce substantial (45 page) research papers.

546

International Law of Armed Conflict 3
  • JD SRWP, option
  • JD elective
  • LLM-ICL (JD) elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • IntlLLM writing
  • PIPS elective
  • Spring 21
  • Spring 22
  • Spring 23
  • Reflective Writing
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Oral presentation
  • Class participation

This seminar will examine the international law of armed conflict, and it focuses on the jus in bello context. Students will consider the rationale for the key concepts of the law of armed conflict, and examine their practical application in various contexts. Case studies (contemporary and historical) will be examined in conjunction with the topics covered. This historical context for the law of armed conflict agreements, the status of conflicts, combatants, and civilians, targeting, rules of engagement, war crimes, are all included among the topics the class will address. Students will be encouraged to relate legal and interdisciplinary sources in order to better understand the multi-faceted interaction between law and war. There is no examination for this course but a 30-page paper (constituting 60% of the grade) is required on a legal topic chosen by the student and approved by the instructor. Students desiring to use the course paper to fulfill Substantial Research and Writing Project (SRWP) and possibly other writing requirements must obtain instructor. The remainder of the grade (40%) is based on the quality and frequency of class participation. Students should be aware that this course may include discussion and visual depictions (still and video) of armed conflict and other acts of extreme violence. The textbook for this course is Gary D. Solis's The Law of Armed Conflict: International Humanitarian Law in War (3rd ed., 2021). This course will only be offered in the spring.

582

National Security Law 3
  • JD SRWP
  • JD elective
  • LLM-ICL (JD) elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • IntlLLM writing
  • PIPS elective
  • Fall 20
  • Fall 21
  • Fall 22
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Oral presentation
  • Class participation

This fall-only survey course is designed to provide students, particularly those with no background in the topic, with an overview of the American legal architecture related to the U.S. security enterprise. The class will also examine related issues that arise "in the news." It is aimed not only at students considering a career in government or the military, but also for those headed to private practice who appreciate that the U.S.’s $778 billion defense budget, ($2 trillion in defense outlays worldwide), impact virtually all potential clients.

The course includes analyzing the constitutional structure governing national security matters, and the role played by the three branches of government (with special emphasis on Presidential power). It will also examine governmental surveillance, the investigation and prosecution of national security cases, as well as First Amendment issues related to national security. In addition, homeland security issues (to include the domestic use of the armed forces), security-based travel restrictions, public health emergencies, civil-military relations, and the impact of national security issues on business transactions will be reviewed. The textbook for this course will be Dycus, et al., National Security Law (7th ed., 2020) ISBN9781543806793 as well as the National Security Law and Counterterrorism Law 2022-2023 Supplement. Other materials may be provided as necessary. The instructors will offer practical, real-world perspectives on the issues discussed based on their extensive careers in government.

There is one assigned time block for the course, but the structure of classes may vary, and students may be divided into sections, discussion groups, and panels.

The course is expected to include guest speakers. There may be occasional asynchronous content, including short lectures, podcasts, and some documentary footage. Students will have advance notice of all required participation elements.

Given this is a course in national security, class instruction will likely include written, oral, and visual depictions of physical force and violence—and occasionally extreme representations of the same.

There is no examination for this course, but a 30-page research paper (constituting 60% of the grade) is required on a topic chosen by the student and approved by the instructors. With instructor approval, the course paper may fulfill the Substantial Research and Writing Project provided all SRWP requirements are met. The remainder of the grade (40%) is based on the quality and frequency of class participation (which may include short papers and/or brief oral presentations).

592

Frontier AI & Robotics: Law & Ethics 3
  • JD SRWP, option
  • JD elective
  • LLM-LE (JD) elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • IntlLLM writing
  • IntlLLM Business Cert
  • IntllLLM IP Cert
  • IntlLLM NVE Cert
  • Fall 20
  • Spring 21
  • Spring 22
  • Spring 23
  • Reflective Writing
  • Research and/or analytical paper(s), 20+ pages
  • In-class exercise
  • Class participation

Robots, with us for several generations already, were long confined to narrow uses and trained users, assembling our vehicles and moving our products behind the scenes. In recent years, robotic tools have begun to step out of the back room and take center stage. Even more, these tools are fueled by constantly advancing artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that allow them to participate in the world of the mind as much as the world of muscle. Are we ready? Probably not. In order to capture the full opportunities and benefits of AI & robotics, surely our legal systems and ethical frameworks must evolve. We must find ways to ensure that human-robot interactions occur in ways that are safe and are consistent with our cultural values. We must take care that our policies and laws provide artificial intelligence tools with the direction we need without quashing or hindering the innovations that could improve our lives.

The course will bring together three core areas: (1) law, (2) ethics, and (3) applied technology. Because frontier technologies challenge existing legal regimes and ethical frameworks, this course and its assigned project encourage law, ethics, and policy students to interact with networks of experts who are actively thinking about ethical technology development and with technology policy networks that explore the social implications of a world increasingly inclusive of AI.

Beyond time spent for class preparation and in-class time, each student in Frontier AI & Robotics: Law & Ethics will be required to complete a substantial research-based Report that demonstrates a deep, research-based understanding of a topic about which the student shall become knowledgeable such that he/she could take part meaningfully in and contribute to present-day discussions of law, policy, and ethics in the topic area. This Report may qualify for the JD SRWP degree requirement or the International LLM writing requirement upon permission of the instructor.

NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE OR TECHNOLOGY IS NEEDED FOR THIS COURSE.

677

Duke Law in DC: Rethinking Federal Regulation 4
  • JD SRWP
  • JD elective
  • PIPS elective
  • Fall 20
  • Fall 21
  • Fall 22

This course is open to students participating in the Duke in DC integrated externship program (LAW 679: Duke Law in DC Externship). The Rethinking Federal Regulation course is a graded 4-credit weekly class that focuses on trends in regulatory philosophy, competing models for regulation, the nature of administrative rulemaking and enforcement of rules and regulations, and some of the sources of regulatory dysfunction. Students will develop critical analysis skills that are necessary to evaluate federal regulatory law, and will produce a 30-page final paper for the course. This course is open to second and third year law students, by permission only. For more information, please visit https://law.duke.edu/curriculum/dukedc/.

744

Philosophy for Constitutional Lawyers 3
  • JD SRWP
  • JD elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
    • Reflective Writing
    • Research and/or analytical paper(s), 10-15 pages
    • Class participation

    This seminar will investigate the possibility and promise of substantive reason in constitutional law. Doubts that reason plays any non-instrumental role in constitutional decisions often reflect a broad skepticism that constitutional law can be anything other than political decision-making in disguise. We do not share that skepticism, but we readily concede that many constitutional arguments and opinions are poorly reasoned, and that constitutional lawyers often seem unable to offer a coherent account of what they are doing, or what constitutional decision-making is or ought to be, that doesn't collapse into a species of political choice.

    Our goal is to explore some of the resources that contemporary philosophy may offer constitutional lawyers in the effort to understand and practice constitutional law as a distinct and coherent form of thought and decision.
    Attention will be paid to the work of Alasdair MacIntyre and Ludwig Wittgenstein, among others.

    Students will be expected to participate actively in class discussion and to prepare a seminar paper, which can be written to satisfy the upper-level writing requirement.

    772

    Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Law 3
    • JD SRWP, option
    • JD elective
    • LLM-ICL (JD) elective
    • IntlLLM writing, option
    • Spring 23
    • Research paper option, 25+ pages
    • Research and/or analytical paper(s), 10-15 pages
    • Oral presentation
    • Class participation

    This course will offer an extended exploration of the earliest legal materials known to human history (beginning with the Laws of Ur-Namma) and, arguably, the ancient world’s most important legal materials for the history of law in the Western tradition—namely, the Bible. The course thus provides students with wide exposure to the history of law, indeed its very roots (at least for the Western intellectual tradition), while at the same time affording access to the long and complicated interrelationships of law and religion that are evident already in the ancient world and that continue to the present day, not least (for example) in debates over the Ten Commandments. In these ways, the course should prove helpful and informative, not only in terms of legal history and development, but also in moving toward a better understanding of at least some of the dynamics surrounding religious law and/or religious groups’ and individual adherents’ relationship(s) to law.  Students will be evaluated on class participation, including tracking and presenting on a legal topic (e.g., status, property, family, intention, homicide, etc.) across the semester, and either a series of shorter papers or a longer research paper to satisfy the SRWP.

    781

    Music's Copyright: A Historical, Incentives-Based, and Aesthetic Analysis of the Law of Music 3
    • JD SRWP
    • JD elective
    • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
    • IntlLLM writing
    • IntllLLM IP Cert
    • Fall 20
    • Spring 23
    • Reflective Writing
    • Research paper, 25+ pages
    • Oral presentation
    • Class participation

    This course will begin by exploring the historical structure of incentives in music and the changing economics of music production, including the preconditions for thinking of music as "property" and the gradual shift from patronage to a market-oriented system. It will then proceed to examine music's unusually complex and increasingly fraught relationship with copyright law. The fundamental notions of originality and illicit copying are at odds with both functional limitations and long-standing aesthetic practices in music, such as the long history of accepted borrowing. As a result, there is an unusual body of music-specific case law that features intriguing circuit splits, vigorous disputes about expert testimony and prior art, and specialized doctrinal issues. Students will gain an in-depth knowledge of these issues, and their application in prominent cases involving the songs "Blurred Lines," "Stairway to Heaven," and Katy Perry's "Dark Horse," as well as pending disputes over Lizzo's "Truth Hurts" and "Baby Shark," and then apply this knowledge in a mock trial. The course will also cover the complicated licensing schemes that attach to different uses of music, from traditional revenue streams to fresh disputes regarding royalties for new uses such as ringtones and streaming services. This portion will include a discussion of the new Music Modernization Act. Finally, the class will conclude with an in-depth examination of the ongoing debates about how both the law and business practices might adapt to the new musical forms (such as sampling and remixing) and business models (such as do-it-yourself distribution) enabled by digital technology. Throughout the semester, the course will include a special focus on current and ongoing disputes, issues, scholarship, and proposals.

    The writing for this course may be used to satisfy the JD Substantial Research and Writing Project Requirement.

    Course Credits

    Semester

    JD Course of Study

    JD/LLM in International & Comparative Law

    JD/LLM in Law & Entrepreneurship

    International LLM - 1 year

    Certificate in Public interest and Public Service Law

    Areas of Study & Practice