Two-Week Courses

The Duke D.C. Summer Institute on Law and Policy curriculum will focus on topics important to current and aspiring practitioners in fields that require mastery of constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law and policymaking.  Courses will meet in the evenings, at the close of the workday, in Washington, DC.

Classes will be limited in size in order to facilitate interaction between faculty members and students. Registration and tuition will include weekly special events for program participants and written and other course materials.  Upon successful completion of the program, participants will be awarded a certificate endorsed by the Dean of Duke Law School, David Levi, and Faculty Director of the Institute, Neil Siegel.

The 2015 program will take place over the weeknights of two, two-week sessions: July 6-16, 2015, and July 20-July 30, 2015; classes will meet on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, with Wednesday evenings reserved for special programs. New this summer, the DC Institute will be hosted by premier law firm Jones Day, in its Washington office, which is located in the historic Acacia Building at 51 Louisiana Avenue NW. Courses will introduce participants to legal reasoning, US constitutional law, with a focus on timely subjects such as the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage, current topics in national security law, and law and economics.

Tuition for a single course is $600; for each additional course, tuition is $400.

Session One: Monday, July 6 – Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to “Think Like a Lawyer”:  Introduction to Legal Reasoning

5:45-7:15 p.m.
Professor Neil Siegel

  • This course introduces students to what it means to “think like a lawyer.”  Students will learn to identify the predominant features of legal reasoning and legal argument, and explore whether those features are distinctive to law or instead are persistent characteristics of ordinary human thinking.  Topics include rules-based reasoning, reasoning from precedent, reasoning from authority, analogical reasoning, the common law method, and the skeptical charge of legal realism that legal reasoning does not actually decide cases. Those interested in applying to and attending law school will particularly benefit from this course, as it offers a glimpse at several of the bedrock principles of the law school curriculum.

Hot Topics in National and International Security Law: Drones, Cyberwar, Lawfare, Surveillance, and More

7:30-9:00 p.m.
Professor Charles Dunlap, Jr., Maj. Gen. (Ret.), US Air Force

  • This course will introduce the hottest topics in national and international security law, including the issues of drones, cyberwar, lawfare, and surveillance. In addition, the course will address civil-military relations and the U.S. military justice system and military commissions.  Students will also analyze the constitutional and statutory architecture of the American defense establishment, consider the international phenomena of “lawfare,” and discuss the ethical issues that national security law must confront. This course is aimed at students, practitioners, policy analysts, legislative staffers, concerned citizens, and others wanting to understand the legal aspects of the security-related issues that dominate today’s headlines.

Session Two: Monday, July 20 – Thursday, July 30, 2015

From Rabbis to Running Backs: Introduction to Law & Economics

5:45-7:15 p.m.
Professor Barak Richman

  • Over the last fifty years, economic concepts have increasingly been used to explain the effects of laws, to assess the economic efficiency of legislation and regulations, and to support specific policy positions and prescriptions. This course will introduce students to the field of "law and economics," including a basic overview of the microeconomic principles at play and how they are applied to the analysis of law during the first year of law school and beyond. Students will examine examples from current events, such as hiring practices in organizations as varied as the NFL and synagogues. By working through both classic and contemporary case studies, students will gain a better understanding of both what the field of economics teaches us about the law, and how the law can shape economic outcomes.

Sex, Drugs, and Money: Law, Life, and the Emergence of Technology

5:45-7:15 p.m.
Professor Robert Cook-Deegan

  • This course will explore the role of law in the emergence of biotechnology, focusing on important case and statutory law. Students will read judicial decisions and historical background material in preparation for lively, highly interactive discussions about cutting-edge issues such as whether a living organism and human genes can be patented, ownership and patent rights in research conducted at universities, and the Roe v. Wade decision as a precursor to some of today's thorniest debates in science law and policy.

From Obamacare to Gay Rights: Introduction to Constitutional Law

7:30-9:00 p.m.
Professor Neil Siegel

  • This course will introduce students to the field of U.S. constitutional law, a core course during the first year of law school and the subject of, or pre-requisite to, numerous advanced courses in the second and third years. Students will learn the basic principles of constitutional analysis, the different kinds of constitutional arguments, and the sources of constitutional change. Case studies will include controversial and timely questions of federal power and individual rights: whether the federal health care law is within the scope of Congress's enumerated powers; whether affirmative action in higher education violates the Equal Protection Clause; whether gun-control legislation violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments; and whether state bans on same-sex marriage violate the Due Process Clause or the Equal Protection Clause, a question that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide in the coming months.


Heather Seeley "This program exceeded my expectations in terms of learning about substantive legal material, as well as giving me an idea of what law school is all about, the many paths I could take with a law degree, and truly what it means to "think like a lawyer.""

Heather Seeley,
Duke University Class of 2016