Recruiting Policies & Guidelines

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Recruiting Policies & Guidelines 2020-21 as of August 1, 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  

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 October 19, 2020. Employers may not solicit application materials prior to that date.
  • Organizations may invite first-year students to recruiting events following October 19, 2020

We carefully chose October 19, 2020, as it follows the completion of the first semester of Legal Analysis, Research and Writing and the 1L mid-term assignments; it also corresponds to the start of the Equal Justice Works Conference that week in which many Duke students participate. 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 or hosting 1L events between the end of 1L classes (Friday, November 20, 2020), and the conclusion of first semester final exams (December 11, 2020).

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 for 2020-2021 

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 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 2020-21 Academic Year, employers in the private sector should leave offers made to Duke Law students open until the later of 14 days following the offer letter date, or January 31, 2021.  These Guidelines apply to offers to return for summer 2021, as well as to new offers for summer 2021.

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 

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 Guidelines


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

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 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 is 3.3.
  • In upper-level courses with enrollments of ten (10) to forty-nine (49) students, the maximum median grade is 3.5.

There is 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 is failing.

The Law School does not release class rank.

Note for 2020-21: 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.  This fall, Duke plans to use its normal grading system.  That said, as we experienced last spring, the pandemic is unpredictable, and we cannot foreclose the possibility that our normal grading system will need to be modified, or that individual students or courses will need to be graded differently due to health or other disruptions.

Key 1L Dates 2020-21 for Students and Employers

Event Date

1L Legal Writing Memo Due

October 19, 2020

Semester Mid-Point

October 19, 2020

Job Postings Permitted & Available to 1Ls

October 19, 2020

1L Final Exams Period (No Interviews)

November 20 – December 11, 2020

Recommended Application Deadline for 1L Jobs

January 2020 onwards

Recruiting Events for 1Ls

October 19 – November 20, 2020 and Following December 11, 2020

Participation in Educational & Professional Development Programs With Students

At any time (but for Final Exams Period)

Spring Semester Classes Resume

Note: There is no Spring Break in 2020-21

January 19, 2021

Offer Guidelines 2020-21

Type of Employment Offer Open Period

1L Summer Employment

14 days

2L Summer Employment

Later of 14 days from offer letter date, or January 31, 2021

Post-Graduate Employment: Previously Employed

Later of 14 days from offer letter date, or October 1, 2020

Post-Graduate Employment: All Other Offers

14 days

Offers, Employer with 40 or Fewer Attorneys in Total

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.