Recruiting Policies & Guidelines

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Recruiting Policies & Guidelines

Sections Applicable to Upper Level Students Updated February 2020

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 and 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 (2020-21 Updates Forthcoming)

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:

  • First-year students will gain access to the Symplicity job board as of November 1, 2019. Employers may not solicit application materials prior to that date.
  • Organizations are welcome to arrange single-employer, organized events that are focused on meeting 1Ls for “recruiting” or “hiring” purposes following the conclusion of fall semester final exams but not before.

We carefully chose November 1 as it follows two consequential 1L events - the completion of the first semester of Legal Analysis, Research and Writing and the 1L mid-term exam. Organizations not complying with the above rules may be subject to Law School-imposed recruiting restrictions. 

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 between the end of 1L classes (the week of December 2, 2019) and the conclusion of first semester final exams (December 20, 2019).

We welcome employer participation in educational programs focused on professional development throughout 1L year and students’ law school experience organized with student groups or the Law School.

Guidelines on Offers and Decisions Updated February 2020

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 for students to gather the 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 2020-21 Offer Guidelines are described below:

1L Summer Employment. All offers to first-year students for summer employment should remain open for at least two weeks 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. Duke Law School’s Guidelines for private sector organizations are based on an employer’s summer associate class size. To determine which Guideline applies, employers should use the total size (1Ls and 2Ls) of their 2020 summer class in the office location that will be extending the offer.

Class size of more than 10 summer associates in the office:  Employers should leave offers made to Duke Law students open for at least 21 days following the last day of Duke Law School’s OCI Segment I or the date of the offer letter, whichever is later.

Class size of 10 or fewer summer associates in the office:  Employers should leave offers made to Duke Law students open for at least 21 days following the last day of Duke Law School’s OCI Segment I, or 14 days from the date of the offer letter, whichever is later.

  • Reaffirmation & Extensions. Employers may request that students with open offers reaffirm their interest within a reasonable period of time, usually 14 days.  Employers should include both the requested reaffirmation date and offer expiration date in the offer letter.  In addition, employers are encouraged to grant extensions to students beyond the 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.
  • Maximum Number of Offers Open. Duke Law students should not hold open more than three offers of employment at any one time.
  • Offers made after April 1, 2021, for the following summer should remain open for at least 14 days after the date of the offer letter. 
  • Employers having a total of 40 attorneys or fewer in all offices are exempt from the Offer Guidelines for both 2L and 3L hiring. Instead, offers should remain open for at least 14 days following the date of the offer letter.
  • Government, non-profit and public interest organizations are exempt from the Offer Guidelines. Instead, offers should remain open for at least 14 days following the date of the offer letter.
  • Offers should be made in writing with all material terms and conditions of employment clearly expressed and should remain unchanged until the expiration date.

Public Service Extensions. 2L and 3L candidates may request that an 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.

Post-Graduate Employment. Employers offering full-time positions to commence following graduation to candidates previously employed by them should leave those offers open until at least October 1 of the candidate’s final year of law school, provided that such offers are made prior to or on September 2.  Offers made after September 2 should remain open for 28 days. Offers to graduating students not previously employed at the offering organization should remain open for 28 days or until December 30, 2020, whichever comes first; offers made after December 15 may be open for 14 days.

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. There is an enforced maximum median grade in all first-year courses of 3.3. A grade higher than 4.0 is comparable to an “A+” under letter grading systems. A grade of 1.5 or lower is failing. For more information on upper level grading policies, please review our full Grading Policy. The Law School does not release class rank.

Key 1L Dates 2019-20 for Students and Employers 2020-21 Updates Forthcoming

Updates for 2020-21 Academic Year forthcoming.  Please consult text above for current Guidelines.



1L Legal Writing Memo Due

Week of October 28

1L Midterm Exam

Week of October 21

Job Postings Permitted & Available to 1Ls

November 1

1L Final Exams Period (No Interviews)

December 2-20

Recommended Application Deadline for 1L Jobs

January 2020 onwards

Single Employer Recruiting Events for 1Ls Permitted

December 21 onwards

Participation in Educational & Professional Development Programs With Students

Throughout Law School

Spring Break (For “in-office” experiences)

Week of March 9, 2020

Offer Guidelines 2020-21

Type of Employment

Offer Open Period

1L Summer Employment

14 days

2L Summer Employment: More than 10 Summer Associates in the Office during Summer 2020

Later of August 20, 2020, or 21 days from offer letter date

2L Summer Employment: 10 or Fewer Summer Associates in the Office during Summer 2020

Later of August 20, 2020, or 14 days from offer letter date

2L Summer Employment: Offer Made After Dec. 15

14 days

Post-Graduate Employment: Previously Employed and Offer Made Before September 2

October 1

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


Post-Graduate Employment: All Other Offers

28 days if made prior to December 15; 14 days if offer made thereafter

Offers, Employer with 40 or Fewer Attorneys in Total

14 days

Offers, Government or Public Interest Employer

14 days

Public Service Extensions for 2L Summer or Post-Grad

May request offer open until April 1


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