Enriching the Curriculum

OUR GOAL: To sustain innovative curricular programs and develop new courses and educational opportunities that respond to the legal profession’s changing demands – and ensure that Duke Law graduates are able to deliver work of the highest quality from the outset of their careers.

Today’s lawyers do not have the luxury of learning on the job. That’s why Duke Law combines rigorous academic instruction with hands-on learning experiences that strengthen and deepen students’ analytical and professional skills. In our clinics, students handle real cases and advise real clients; students master substantive law while also mastering skills ranging from effective interviewing to business formation. In our immersive Duke in D.C. program, students work in legislative and regulatory offices and study federal policymaking. Through these and similar programs, students develop the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in the practice of law.

Learn more about how Duke Law prepares students for practice:


Law practice, first-hand

Wintersession builds skills

More than 300 Duke Law students return early from their holiday breaks each year to attend Duke Law School’s Wintersession and immerse themselves in classes on such practical matters as taking depositions, drafting contracts, basic accounting, and the essential duties of corporate counsel. Taught by Duke Law faculty and top practitioners from around the country, students develop professional skills, expand their networks, and gain up to a full academic credit at no cost. It’s “one of the most important things Duke Law School does for students in preparing them for the actual practice of law,” says Professor Donald Beskind ’77, who spent more than 30 years in private practice before joining the Duke Law faculty full time in 2010. Learn more

Advising start-ups, gaining experience

Start-up Ventures Clinic imageDuke Law’s new Start-Up Ventures Clinic advises entrepreneurial companies, including those created by Duke students, on legal issues relating to the start-up process. The program is expanding opportunities for JD students to develop a unique set of skills – and prepare for careers in a rapidly growing field. Grant Reid ’12, who participated in the clinic and the regional Venture Capital Investment Competition, said the skills he developed prepared him for the work he hopes to do at Wilson Sonsini, where he began his career in fall 2012. “The competition gave me a good sense of what it’s like to be in the room when people are thinking as venture capitalists and what the broad considerations are that go into investment decision-making,” Reid said. “You really get to see how the legal team can shape the thought process and the negotiations.” Learn more

Law students provide legal aid during Spring Break

Duke Law students participating in Southern Justice Spring BreakThrough Duke Law’s Southern Justice Spring Break trip, dozens of students volunteer to provide legal services in underserved communities throughout the region. Students work on a variety of issues, such as prisoner's rights, mineworker rights and safety, family law, environmental law, immigration issues, and wills and trusts. This year, groups traveled to New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, Jackson, Miss., and Whitesburg and Prestonsburg, Ky. Zi-Xang Shen ’14 worked with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, which represents coal miners, their families, and other local residents on issues relating to mine safety, public health and environmental protection. “It was important to me to see that in the midst of the current debates over energy sources, there are real communities deeply impacted by the coal industry that are grappling with complex issues involving their legal rights,” Shen said. Learn more

How can you support the development of Duke Law’s curriculum?

Clinical Program
  • $10,000,000: name the clinical program
  • $3,000,000: individual endowment for a clinic
  • $1,500,000: named clinical program director position
  • $250,000: student fellowship (or $10,000 for a year)
  • Gifts of any amount to the clinical program fund
Duke in D.C. Program
  • $5,000,000: name the Duke in DC Program
  • Gifts of any amount to the Duke Law Annual Fund, which provides flexible funds for the development of new courses and programs that respond to immediate needs
International Studies Program

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