Career Paths

Main Content

In law school, the process of applying for jobs begins very early. Taking the time early on, and throughout your law school experience, to learn about the many available opportunities will make your career planning easier.

Our mission, and that of the entire Law School, is to work with each of you to help you acquire the tools and skills to take ownership of your own professional development so that you will be able to find the right job for you, both during and after law school. To help you do this, we try to help you understand both your own goals as well as where in the professional world they can be fulfilled. We encourage you to view your professional development as an integral part of your Duke Law School experience.

Determine Your Path

The first step in your planning is self-assessment. Why is self-assessment important? Unless you take ownership of your own career, you run the risk of drifting into someone else's future. If you are not an active participant in the process of assessing what you want out of your Duke Law School education and subsequent career, then the path you follow may be based on the needs and criteria of others. Self-assessment will help you identify what skills, knowledge, passions, or drives you possess that you can channel into your law career. Self-assessment consists of determining two basic things:

  • Who am I? (What are my interests, skills, & values?)
  • What am I willing to sacrifice to achieve these goals?

You should ask yourself other questions as well, both now and as you learn about the many opportunities that are available to you:

  • Why did I come to law school?
  • What potential practice areas do I want to pursue?
  • What geographical locations am I interested in?
  • What type of employer do I want to work for?

There are a variety of professional opportunities available to students during the two summers of law school. Law firms, public interest organizations, government agencies, judges, and professors in need of research assistants all hire law students. Career counselors from the Career and Professional Development Center and from the Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono work with students throughout their time at Duke Law to identify and navigate these opportunities.