Recruiting Policies & Guidelines

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Recruiting Policies & Guidelines

Duke Law School greatly values our relationships with organizations that support, recruit and hire Duke Law students. The Duke Law School Recruiting Policies & Guidelines (“Policies & Guidelines”) have been established to ensure the highest levels of professionalism, fairness, and opportunity for all members of the Duke Law Community involved in these activities, including current students, future students, alumni, and employers. The Policies & Guidelines also incorporate the National Association for Law Placement’s (NALP) Principles for a Fair & Ethical Recruitment Process.

The Law School’s facilities and support are available only to organizations whose practices are consistent with the Policies & Guidelines. The Policies & Guidelines will be administered by the Career & Professional Development Center and/or Faculty Committee for Student Career & Professional Development, as appropriate.

Meeting & Recruiting First-Year Students 2023-24

It is critical to the Duke Law School experience that first-year students focus on academics and developing essential critical analysis and writing abilities, and establish meaningful relationships with classmates and professors at the beginning of their studies. These Policies & Guidelines are designed to preserve this foundational period in students’ intellectual development, and include two rules noted below. In addition, the first semester provides time for students to start to develop baseline professional development skills and to learn about the legal profession, allowing for a more equitable landscape and better informed students when they do pursue opportunities. 

Duke Law School's Rules with respect to interaction with 1Ls are:

  • Applications: First-year students will gain access to the Duke Law Symplicity job board as of October 23, 2023. Employers may not solicit nor accept application materials from first-year students prior to that date. We chose this date in late October that follows the completion of the first semester of Legal Analysis, Research and Writing.
  • Events: Recruiting events for 1Ls should not be held prior to October 23, 2023. Organizations may gain access to the 1L contact list to begin direct outreach (event invitations) to first-year students starting October 9, 2023. Please contact Susan Anderson for more information.

Additionally, as part of our Guidelines, we strongly encourage those employers choosing to post positions for 1Ls prior to the end of the first semester to extend application deadlines through final exams and to specify that applications are not reviewed on a rolling basis. In all cases, employers should refrain from interviewing students or hosting 1L events between the end of 1L classes and the conclusion of first semester final exams (December 1 - December 15, 2023).

We welcome employer participation in educational programs focused on professional development in the 1L year and throughout students’ law school experience. Employers are encouraged to connect with student groups or the Law School for programming opportunities year-round.

Guidelines on Offers and Decisions for 2024

The goal of this section (“Offer Guidelines”) is to balance student and employer needs in a way that is most likely to lead to optimal decisions and outcomes for all stakeholders over both the short and longer term. The principles underlying these Offer Guidelines are that more informed student employment choices will lead to better and longer lasting decisions, and that some time is needed after the receipt of an offer for students to gather further information to make such decisions. At the same time, employers need to identify candidates who will make the greatest contributions to their particular organizations and meet their hiring goals in a timely manner. Duke Law School’s 2024 Offer Guidelines are described below:

General Guidelines

Employers must make all reasonable efforts to avoid class conflicts when scheduling interviews.

Employers are encouraged to grant extensions to students beyond an offer expiration date if requested in a timely manner. Students are expected to communicate decisions on offers in a timely manner and to decline an offer as soon as the student has decided it will not be accepted.

Duke Law students should not hold open more than three offers of employment at any one time.

Offers should be made in writing with all material terms and conditions of employment clearly expressed and should remain unchanged until the expiration date.

1L Summer Employment

All offers to first-year students for summer employment should remain open for at least 14 days following the date of the offer letter. Offers to first-year students that obligate the student to return to that same employer for most or all of the second summer are discouraged.

2L Summer Employment in the Private Sector

For the Class of 2026, employers in the private sector should leave offers made to Duke Law students open for at least 14 days following the date of the offer letter, and if requested in writing from the student prior to the expiration of the offer, employers should grant an extension of at least seven days beyond the original offer deadline. We also encourage employers to grant additional extensions if requested by the student in writing, as long as the student has remained engaged and responsive with the employer. These Guidelines apply to offers to return for summer 2025, as well as to new offers for summer 2025. All employers, including employers practicing offer timing policies that do not follow the above Guidelines, should provide clear offer timing information to students early in the application process.

Post-Graduate Employment in the Private Sector

Private sector employers offering full-time positions to commence following graduation to candidates previously employed by them should leave those offers open until the later of 14 days from the date of the offer letter or October 1 of the candidate’s final year of law school.  All other offers should remain open for at least 14 days.

Public Interest Extensions

2L and 3L candidates may request that a private sector employer extend the deadline to accept the employer’s offer until as late as April 1 if the candidate is actively pursuing positions with public interest or government organizations. Candidates may hold open only one offer in such circumstances. Employers are encouraged to grant such requests.

Government, non-profit and public interest organizations

Government, non-profit, and public interest organizations are also encouraged to follow the Offer Guidelines, with offers remaining open for at least 14 days following the date of the offer letter.

Additional Policies

Non-Discrimination Policy

All organizations using the facilities and services of Duke Law School in connection with the recruitment of Duke Law Students must comply with the University & Law School’s Non-Discrimination Policy. When recruiting Duke Law students on campus or posting a position, employers must review the Policy and indicate compliance on Symplicity in the section asking for “Affirmation with the Duke University School of Law Non-Discrimination Policy.”

Professional Conduct

Duke Law School is committed to upholding the rules, principles, and community values reflected in the Rules & Policies in all academic and nonacademic endeavors. Student and employer behavior in connection with recruiting students, whether on- or off-campus, or with or without school involvement, should uphold the fundamental principles of mutual respect, honesty, integrity, and professionalism at all times.  Further, in order to meet the Duke Law School Learning Outcomes expected of each graduate, students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of how to conduct themselves as professionals; we encourage employers to consider themselves partners in teaching this and other areas necessary for success as an attorney.

Scholastic Standing and Grading Policy

Duke Law School uses a slightly modified form of the traditional 4.0 grading scale. The modification permits faculty to recognize especially distinguished performance with grades above a 4.0, but no more than five percent (5%) of the grades in any class may be higher than a 4.0.

Beginning in the 2022-23 academic year, Duke Law will have an enforced maximum median grade of 3.5 in all courses, both required and elective, regardless of enrollment. Grades in all first-year courses must follow a mandatory distribution. Similarly, for all upper-level courses in which at least 50 percent of the final grade is based on student performance on a uniform metric or series of metrics, grades must follow the mandatory distribution. A grade higher than 4.0 is comparable to an “A+” under letter grading systems. A grade of 2.0 or lower will be failing.

Prior to the 2022-23 academic year, Duke Law had an enforced maximum median grade as detailed below in all required doctrinal courses, first-year Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing (LARW) and in upper-level courses with more than ten (10) students. Required doctrinal courses are: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, and Torts.

  • In all required doctrinal courses, LARW, and upper-level courses with enrollments of fifty (50) or more students, the median grade was 3.3, with a mandatory distribution.
  • In upper-level courses with enrollments of ten (10) to forty-nine (49) students, the maximum median grade was 3.5.
  • There was no maximum median grade in upper-level courses with fewer than ten (10) students.
  • A grade higher than 4.0 is comparable to an “A+” under letter grading systems. A grade of 1.5 or lower was failing.

The Law School does not release class rank.

* For the Spring 2022 semester, the median grade was a 3.5 for upper-level courses with enrollments of 50 or more students, as well as for Property, Business Associations, International Law, and Administrative Law, elective courses in which first-year students were enrolled. These courses were also graded on a mandatory distribution.

Note on Spring 2020: In response to the Covid-19 emergency, Duke adopted a Credit/No Credit policy for Spring 2020 for all courses with one exception. Although the default was also Credit/No Credit for Legal Analysis, Research and Writing, 1L students could elect to opt for a grade in that course. Duke has returned to the grading system described above in Fall 2020.

Key 1L Dates 2023-24 for Students and Employers

Event Date

1L Legal Writing Memo Due

October 23, 2023

Job Postings Permitted & Available to 1Ls

October 23, 2023

1L Final Exams Period (No Interviews)

December 1-15, 2023

Recommended Application Deadline for 1L Jobs

For class of 2026, January 2024 onwards

Recruiting Events for 1Ls

After October 23, 2023 (but for Final Exams Period)

Participation in Educational & Professional Development Programs With Students

At any time (but for Final Exams Period)

Spring Semester Classes Resume

January 10, 2024

Offer Guidelines 2024-25

Type of Employment Offer Open Period

1L Summer Employment

14 days

2L Summer Employment

For class of 2026, 14 days from offer letter date; 7-day extensions should be granted upon request

Post-Graduate Employment: Previously Employed

Later of 14 days from offer letter date, or October 1, 2024

Post-Graduate Employment: All Other Offers

14 days

Offers, Government or Public Interest Employer

14 days

Government or Public Interest Extensions for 2L Summer or Post-Grad

May request offer open until April 1

Maximum Number of Offers a Duke Law student should have open at any one time.


For questions about our recruiting policies, please email Erin Biggerstaff, Director, Recruitment & Employer Relations.