Duke Law School offers a JD program that is rigorous, relevant, innovative and interdisciplinary.
First year students begin their study of law through the traditional core courses of civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. At least one first-year course is a small section of less than 30 students and rarely does any first-year class exceed 90 students.
From the first-year foundation, Duke has built an extensive upper-class curriculum that blends traditional coursework with an extensive array of practical skills courses and clinics and opportunities to study in small groups with faculty.
While the core curriculum is strong across the board, Duke has given special attention to those areas in which there is likely to be a growing demand for lawyers over the coming decades - business and finance law, international and comparative law, constitutional and public law, and fields relating to science and technology such as intellectual property, environmental, telecommunications, biotech, and health.
Duke University is committed to encouraging and sustaining a learning and work community that is free from prohibited discrimination and harassment. Review the full policy to learn more.
Application Process and Timeline
The Application for Admission is available in late August, and may be submitted through LSAC on September 1. The priority application deadline for Regular Decision candidates is February 15. (Applications may be submitted after the deadline if space is available.) Applications for the binding Early Decision option must be complete by November 1, 2018 (Round I) or January 3, 2019 (Round II).
Learn more about Early Decision
Candidates will be notified once decisions are made on their admission applications. The time from an application's completion to a decision being reached may vary widely.
Applicants who receive a provisional offer of admission will be officially admitted to Duke Law School when they complete the next step of the admission process – applying for financial aid and scholarship assistance. Duke Law School awards scholarships both on the basis of merit and on the basis of merit plus financial need. Candidates who wish to be considered for scholarship assistance based on both merit and financial need are also required to submit the CSS Profile. As part of the scholarship application process, candidates will have the opportunity to participate in a Skype interview with a member of the committee, if they choose to do so. Those who apply for scholarship consideration will receive their official admission letter and financial aid decision soon after the Scholarship Committee completes its review. Applicants who are provisionally admitted and do not wish to apply for scholarship assistance may contact the Office of Admissions so that they can be officially admitted at that time.
The application review process includes a thorough evaluation of a candidate's academic record, including the rigor and breadth of the curriculum, overall grade trends, any graduate level work, and test scores. To be eligible for admission, an applicant must receive a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution prior to enrollment at the Law School.
Duke seeks to identify applicants who demonstrate leadership and engagement. Most successful candidates show sustained and meaningful commitment to one or more fields of interest to them. Although many applicants have had some exposure to the legal profession, this is not in itself a requirement. The Law School benefits from a student body that represents a broad range of experiences and interests. It is often helpful to indicate reasons for interest in law school in general and Duke in particular, especially when they relate to an applicant's specific experiences. Special care is taken when evaluating applications to achieve diversity in interests, perspectives, and backgrounds.
When the admissions committee determines that additional information would be helpful in making a final decision, applicants may be invited to interview with a member of the committee. These interviews are optional, and offered by invitation at the discretion of the admissions committee. All candidates are welcome to visit the law school for a tour, and may make an appointment for a non-evaluative informational meeting with an admissions officer.
Please return in late August to review the revised application instructions for the 2020 entering class.
The following instructions are for first-year JD applicants to the 2019 entering class. The first-year JD application is also used to apply for dual degree programs. Review the detailed instructions as you complete the application. (Available below and in the LSAC application.)
- Application Checklist
- Application Fee
- Resume, Personal Statement, Optional Essays
- Recommendation Letters
- Academic Transcripts
- Foreign Transcripts
- International Applicants
- Law School Admission Test
- Supplemental Material
- Bar Admission
- Application Instructions
The following items are required. You will be notified by email once your application has been received. The email will include instructions on how to check your file status online. Required items should be submitted as soon as possible. Applications that are missing required material will be reviewed later in the cycle and final decisions will be rendered based on the information that exists in the file at that time.
- JD application - submit electronically through LSAC
- $70 non-refundable application processing fee - submit electronically with the application
- Resume - use attachment to submit electronically with the application » More
- Personal statement and optional essays - use attachments to submit electronically with the application » More
- Two recommendation letters - submit through LSAC to be included in the CAS report » More
- Letter from previous law school - if applicable
- LSAC CAS report - we will request from LSAC after you submit the application
- InitialView interview or TOEFL - international applicants only, if applicable » More
The application processing fee is $70. The non-refundable payment must be submitted electronically with the application.
Automatic fee waivers: If you received a waiver of the fees associated with taking the LSAT, your application fee will be waived automatically. We do not offer automatic service-related fee waivers.
Need-based fee waivers: Submit the Fee Waiver Form in its original format by email as an attached PDF to the Office of Admissions at email@example.com. Fee waivers are granted one-time-only. If you were granted a fee waiver for a previous application, you would not be eligible. We will be unable to consider requests received after the priority application deadline of February 15. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible. A decision on your need-based fee waiver request must be received prior to submitting the application electronically, so plan ahead. If you submit the application prior to receiving a decision, the request will be denied. Notification will be sent by email.
We also extend merit-based fee waivers based on the results of periodic searches of the LSAC's Candidate Referral Service (CRS). To be considered in the pool, be sure your CRS account is active, your intended enrollment year is set correctly, you have either a self-reported or LSAC-calculated GPA, and LSAT score.
Resume, Personal Statement, Optional Essays
Resume: You will be required to submit a current résumé as an attachment. Please provide complete information and include your significant work experience, educational history, college and community activities, honors and awards you have received, any prior Duke affiliation, and dates for all items listed. There is no required length or page limit.
Personal Statement: You will be required to submit a personal statement as an attachment. The statement is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the admissions committee and should include (1) what you think have been your significant personal experiences beyond what may be reflected in your academic transcripts and on your résumé, and (2) your personal and career ambitions. If your personal statement does not directly address your interest in attending law school and practicing law, we strongly encourage you to write Optional Essay 1. There is no required length or page limit.
Optional Essays: You are invited to supplement your personal statement with either or both of the following optional essays. These topics are helpful in forming a full picture of our applicants so we encourage you to provide any relevant information either in your personal statement or in the optional essays (it is not necessary to duplicate information in both places).
Optional Essay I: You may submit an essay providing additional information about why you have chosen to apply to law school in general and Duke in particular. We are interested in the factors that have prompted your interest in a legal career and the ways in which you think Duke can further that interest.
Optional Essay II: Our admission process is guided by the view that a student body that reflects the broad diversity of society contributes to the implementation of the Law School’s mission, improves the learning process, and enriches the educational experience for all students. In reviewing applications, we consider, as one factor among many, how an applicant may contribute to the diversity of the Law School based on the candidate’s experiences, achievements, background, and perspectives. This approach ensures the best and most relevant possible legal training and serves the legal profession by training lawyers to effectively serve an increasingly diverse society. You are invited to submit an essay that describes your particular life experiences with an emphasis on how the perspectives that you have acquired would contribute to Duke Law School’s intellectual community and enhance the diversity of the student body. Examples of topics include (but are not limited to): an experience of prejudice, bias, economic disadvantage, personal adversity, or other social hardship (perhaps stemming from one’s religious affiliation, disability, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity); experience as a first-generation college student; significant employment history (such as in business, military or law enforcement, or public service); experience as an immigrant or refugee; graduate study; or impressive leadership achievement (including college or community service).The personal statement, optional essays, and all other writing samples must be your own work. This means that the ideas and expressions originated with you, and you wrote all drafts and the final product. It does not preclude asking family members, friends, pre-law advisors, and others for proofreading assistance or general feedback.
You must submit two required recommendation letters through LSAC. The LSAC Letter of Recommendation Service is included in your CAS registration and will accept generic and school specific letters.
Unless you have been out of school for some time, at least one letter should come from an academic instructor who has personal knowledge of your performance and potential. A second letter should come from someone who can address your interpersonal skills, leadership, and involvement, such as a supervisor or advisor from a job, internship, or student organization. Additional letters from either source may also be submitted. If you have been out of school for long enough that an academic reference is not available, you may submit an additional employment letter in its place.
References from friends, family friends, and relatives are discouraged.
Law School Admission Test
The LSAT is offered six times in each application cycle. You should choose a test date that provides sufficient time for thorough preparation, preferably no later than the November administration. The January test is available for those who decide to apply to law school later in the cycle, or for those who wish to retake the test. Duke considers all LSAT scores that are submitted, in the context of the entire application (transcripts, personal statement, letters of recommendation, evidence of leadership and engagement, and other information). In the case of multiple test scores, data show that the average score is generally the most useful in predicting law school performance; however, Duke may place greater weight on a high score if the applicant provides compelling information about why that score is a better indication of his or her potential. If you feel that one or more of your test scores does not accurately reflect your ability or potential, please use the Miscellaneous Addendum attachment to explain this disparity. Contact LSAC to request information about the LSAT at 215.968.1001 or LSAC.org. Duke does not waive the LSAT requirement.
You may submit the application prior to taking the LSAT and we will hold your file until the required score is available. If you will be retaking the LSAT, and you want the new score to be considered during the evaluation process, select the date that you will retake the LSAT in the appropriate section on the application. Notify the Office of Admissions if you decide to retake the LSAT after you submit the application and you would like to have your file placed on hold to wait on the new score.
All applicants must register with LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (CAS). CAS information is available online at LSAC.org. Transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work must be submitted directly to the CAS.
Duke Law School requires that foreign transcripts be submitted through the CAS if you received your degree from an institution outside the U.S. or Canada, or if you completed the equivalent of more than one year of undergraduate study outside the U.S. (including its territories) or Canada. This service is included in the CAS registration fee. An International Credential Evaluation will be completed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), which will be incorporated into your LSAC CAS report. Log in to your online account and follow the instructions for registering for the service. Be sure to print out a Transcript Request Form for each institution and send it promptly to them. Additional time is usually required to receive foreign transcripts, so please plan accordingly. Questions about foreign transcripts can be directed to LSAC at 215.968.1001 or LSACinfo@LSAC.org.
IntitialView Interview or TOEFL Requirements
If your first language is not English and English is not the language of instruction at your undergraduate institution, you are required to participate in an InitialView interview or submit a score from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). If you choose to conduct an interview, please notify the Office of Admissions by email when it is ready for our review. International applicants with graduate degrees in the U.S. must also satisfy this requirement. We strongly recommend that candidates interview in lieu of submitting the TOEFL.
- To participate in the interview, please schedule your session by contacting InitialView at www.initialview.com. Since many international students come from educational systems that are different from that of the U.S., we find it valuable to be able to view an unscripted interview where applicants may discuss their unique backgrounds and goals. InitialView will conduct the interview and record the conversation so that it can be reviewed by our office. All InitialView interviews must be completed no later than March 1.
- To submit a TOEFL score, contact the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and request that your score be sent to LSAC. The TOEFL institution code for LSAC is 8395. Your score will be included in the International Credential Evaluation document that will be part of your LSAC CAS report.
- International Students and Visa Applications
- Admitted applicants who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents will receive information about applying for a Duke-sponsored F-1 visa after submitting the required enrollment material. Candidates will be required to submit copies of their passports, previous visa documents, and proof of financial support. Duke University policy states that graduate and professional students who are not in lawful immigration status will not be enrolled.
Previous Law School Matriculation
If you attended another law school, you must include an addendum to explain why you did not complete the program. You are also required to have your law school submit a letter directly to the Office of Admissions indicating your dates of attendance, reason for withdrawal, and academic standing.
If you wish to send additional material after submitting the application, you may forward it to the Office of Admissions by email or postal mail. Include your full name and LSAC account number for identification purposes. If you have lengthy material, it may be more beneficial to submit a 1-2 page summary by email or submit the material by postal mail.
To reapply, you must submit a new application and update all supporting material. Note on the application, where indicated, the year for which you last sought admission. You will also be required to reassign recommendation letters through LSAC.
In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners. For additional information, please visit http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/bar_admissions.html.
Please read the following instructions carefully before completing your application.
Complete this section in full.
Complete this section in full.
3: Contact Information
Complete this section in full. Submit updates to your contact information directly to the Office of Admissions by email.
4: Decision Cycle
Select the decision cycle in which you would like to have your application reviewed.
Regular Decision: The priority application deadline for the regular decision cycle is February 15.
Early Decision: The Early Decision program is most appropriate for candidates who have concluded that Duke is their first choice for law school and who do not anticipate the need to compare offers of financial aid in making a decision about where to matriculate. Candidates who apply through the Early Decision program may apply to other law schools, but may not have more than one binding Early Decision application pending simultaneously. If an Early Decision application has already been submitted to another law school, candidates may apply through Duke's Early Decision program only if and when they are released from their binding commitment at the other school. If admitted to Duke Law School, Early Decision candidates will be required to immediately withdraw their applications at other law schools, refrain from submitting new applications, and submit a $500 tuition deposit no later than ten days after the admission notification.
Files for Round I Early Decision must be complete no later than November 1, 2018 and candidates will be notified about their status no later than December 31. Files for Round II Early Decision must be complete no later than January 3, 2019 and candidates will be notified no later than January 31. Please plan ahead if you intend to apply for the Early Decision cycle since it can take several days or weeks to complete your file. LSAC must process all required transcripts and the two required recommendation letters before they will release the CAS report. Depending on the volume, it could take LSAC several weeks to process material received.
Some Early Decision candidates may be held for consideration in the regular cycle, and will no longer be bound by the terms of the Early Decision agreement.
5: Degree Program
Review the degree options listed below. You may apply to only one program. Admission to one program is not transferable to another. Learn more degree programs offered.
|JD||No additional requirements.|
|JD/LLM (International and Comparative Law)||No additional requirements; however, we encourage applicants to address their interest in international and comparative law either in their personal statement or use the JD/LLM or JD/LLMLE attachment.|
|JD/LLMLE (Law and Entrepreneurship)||No additional requirements; however, we encourage applicants to address their interest in law and entrepreneurship either in their personal statement or use the JD/LLM or JD/LLMLE attachment.|
|JD/MBA||Seperate application to Duke Fuqua School of Business|
|JD/MD||Separate application to Duke School of Medicine|
|JD/MEM||Separate application to Duke Nicholas School of the Environment|
|JD/MPP||Separate application to Duke Sanford School of Public Policy|
|JD/MTS||Separate application to Duke Divinity School|
6: Prior Application
Complete this section in full. If you applied previously, please indicate the year(s) for which you applied for admission.
7: LSAT and TOEFL
LSAT: Please provide the test date if you will be retaking the LSAT and you want the new score to be considered during the evaluation process. (See General Information for details.)
TOEFL: International applicants only, if applicable. Indicate whether you will participate in an InitialView interview or submit a TOEFL score. We strongly recommend that candidates interview in lieu of submitting the TOEFL. (See General Information for details.)
You are required to provide information on your high school and all post secondary schools attended.
Complete this section in full.
10: Military Service
Complete this section in full.
Complete this section in full.
12: Character and Fitness
Duke Law requires that you reveal knowledge of all disciplinary charges, and any arrests, criminal charges, or criminal convictions (except arrests, criminal charges or criminal convictions that have been expunged from your record). When in doubt, you should err on the side of full disclosure as subsequent discovery of a failure to fully and accurately answer these questions may have serious consequences. You have an ongoing obligation to report any conduct that would require you to answer "Yes" to any of the questions in this section during the pendency of your application. If you are admitted, the obligation to report conduct applicable to the questions in this section continues until your first day of class at Duke Law School.
If you answer "Yes" to any of these questions, you will be required to provide an explanation. Include details, the current status of any disciplinary action or judicial sanctions, and the final resolution of the issues involved.
In addition, if you answer "Yes" to the disciplinary conduct question, you will be required to have the dean, registrar, department supervisor, judicial officer, or academic officer with access to official records from your institution submit a letter directly to the Office of Admissions providing complete information about the incident. If your institution has no record of any disciplinary conduct, please have them submit a letter indicating so.
Applications will not be processed without an electronic signature agreeing to the conditions and certifying that the information is true and complete. You are obligated to notify the Office of Admissions immediately of any change in the information provided.
|Application Complete Deadline||Notification Date|
|Early Decision Round I||November 1, 2018||December 31, 2018|
|Early Decision Round II||January 3, 2019||January 31, 2019|
Duke Law School offers a binding Early Decision option for applicants to the JD program, as well as the JD/LLM in International and Comparative Law and the JD/LLMLE in Law and Entrepreneurship. Please plan ahead if you intend to apply for the Early Decision cycle. The application should be "submitted" prior to the "application complete" deadline noted in the chart above. After submitting the application, it can take several days or weeks to complete your file. LSAC must process all required transcripts and the two required recommendation letters before they will release the CAS report. Depending on the volume, it could take LSAC several weeks to process material received.
This program is most appropriate for candidates who have concluded that Duke is their first-choice for law school and do not anticipate the need to compare offers of financial aid in making a decision about where to matriculate. Applicants who are admitted through our early decision program are reviewed for scholarship assistance on the same timeline as all other admitted students. Candidates who apply through the Early Decision program may apply to other law schools, but may not have more than one binding Early Decision application pending simultaneously. If an Early Decision application has already been submitted to another law school, candidates may apply through Duke's Early Decision program only if and when they are released from their binding commitment at the other school. If admitted to Duke Law School, Early Decision candidates will be required to immediately withdraw their applications at other law schools, refrain from submitting new applications, and submit a $500 tuition deposit no later than ten days after the admission notification.
Some Early Decision candidates may be held for review in the regular cycle; candidates who are held for consideration in the regular cycle will no longer be bound by the terms of the Early Decision agreement.