531.01 In House Law Practice

This course explores the substantive and procedural aspects of inhouse law practice. Class sessions often include guest general counsels to survey in-house legal topics, engage with real world challenges, discuss current relevant events, and distill best practices for the role. Students will have team-based interdisciplinary project assignments that draw from topics discussed in the class, reflecting real-world scenarios and providing legal representation experience. Guest general counsels are typically leading practitioners who engage with the class from a variety of perspectives, ranging from Chief Legal Officers of Fortune 50 companies to general counsels who helped grow entrepreneurial startups into household names.

The course is designed for any student interested in inhouse practice – those who wish to work in a law firm or governmental role and interact with inhouse counsel, those who would like to practice inhouse, and those who are interested in exploring different career paths.  It is intended to provide law school students with an understanding of and practical skills for inhouse practice, legal issues unique to that role, and practical issues that face inhouse lawyers. 

20%: Reflection Message Board Posts
Each student will publish five brief message board posts during the semester reflecting upon insights or thoughts of interest from guest general counsel presentations.

30%: Memo
Student assume the role of attorney with an inhouse legal department and prepare a 5-page memo responding to a fact pattern and scenario; the memo provides an opportunity to demonstrate legal analysis and practical approaches to the issues.  They will also record and upload a five-minute presentation of their memo's findings to the "general counsel" of the company.

40%: Project
Halfway through the semester, students divide into teams of 4 persons. Each team will receive a fact pattern for a significant business-level-event problem which they will analyze and present their findings, legal analysis and recommendation to the CEO and board of directors for said company.

10%: Class Engagement

No prerequisites are necessary.

Spring 2024

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Reflective Writing
Group project(s)
Oral presentation
Allen Nelson, Bradley Zimmer
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/LAW-531-01-Sp24
Email list: LAW-531-01-Sp24@sakai.duke.edu
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Requirements - JD-LLM-LE
Course Areas of Practice
Course Areas of Practice