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 2017 program will take place over the weeknights of two, two-week sessions: July 10-20, 2017, and July 24-August 3, 2017; classes will meet on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, with Wednesday evenings reserved for special programs.  The DC Institute is 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 affirmative action programs, current topics in race, elections, and politics.

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

Session One: Monday, July 10 – Thursday, July 20, 2017

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 will examine 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, the interpretation of statutes, and the skeptical charge of legal realism that legal reasoning does not actually decide cases. An over-arching question is whether legal reasoning is predominantly backward-looking, or whether it is characteristically forward-looking as well. Those students potentially interested in applying to law school will especially benefit from this course, as it introduces several of the basic themes and analytical tools of the law school curriculum.
  • Law, Race and Politics in the Trump Era
  • Professor Guy-Uriel Charles (7:30-9:00 p.m.)
  • This course will examine how race continues to influence law and politics in the Trump era. Students will explore how legal and political institutions and rules have disparate impacts on different segments of American society—and how those impacts in turn inform and affect identity, law, and politics. We will first look at the history of discrimination in the United States.  We will then turn to substantive areas such as policing, voting, and hate speech. In the course of the class, we will discuss contemporary issues that are relevant to questions of racial equality including the criminal justice system, the 2016 elections and voting discrimination, and affirmative action. This course will have special appeal for those interested in learning more about the interrelatedness of law and society, and the advocacy role played by lawyers who use the law as a tool for social change.

Session Two: Monday, July 24 – Thursday, August 3, 2017

From Gun Rights to Gay Rights: Introduction to Constitutional Law (5:45-7:15 p.m.)
Professor Neil Siegel

This course introduces students to the field of U.S. constitutional law through the study of select constitutional rights. Constitutional law is a core course typically taught during the first year of law school and is the subject of, or a pre-requisite to, numerous advanced courses in the second and third years. Students in this course will learn basic principles of constitutional analysis, the different kinds of constitutional arguments, and the sources of constitutional change. Case studies include controversial and timely questions of individual rights: whether prohibitions of hateful speech violate the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment; whether gun-control legislation violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments; whether single-sex public education violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; whether affirmative action in higher education violates the Equal Protection Clause; and whether state bans on same-sex marriage violate the Due Process Clause or the Equal Protection Clause.







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