Two-Week Courses

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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, D.C.

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, Kerry Abrams, and Faculty Director of the Institute, Neil Siegel.

The 2019 program will take place over the weeknights of two, two-week sessions: July 8-18, 2019, and July 22 - August 1, 2019; classes meet on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday* evenings, with Wednesday evenings reserved for special programs. D.C. Institute classes will be held at Duke in DC, located at 1201 Pennsylvania 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 8 - Thursday, July 18

How to “Think Like a Lawyer”: Introduction to Legal Reasoning (5:45-7:15 pm)

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.

From Gun Rights to Gay Rights: Introduction Constitutional Law (7:30-9:00 pm)

Professor Neil Siegel 

This course introduces students to the field of U.S. constitutional law through the study of the separation of powers, federalism, and 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 amd when the President may act in defiance of Congress; whether the federal government has the power to create a national bank and require most Americans to possess health insurance; why Brown v. Board of Education is correctly decided; whether single-sex public education violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and whether state bans on same-sex marriage violate the Due Process Clause or the Equal Protection Clause.

Session Two: Monday, July 22 - Thursday, August 1

Lawyers Branching Out: The Courthouse, the Capitol, and the White House (5:45-7:15 pm)

Professor David F. Levi; U.S. Senator Mike Lee; Dana Remus, Chief Counsel of the Biden for President Campaign and Former Deputy Counsel and Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama

This course introduces students to the three most prominent ways in which lawyers have sought leadership roles in public service -- in the judiciary, in the Congress, and in the executive branch. Students will learn about how lawyers prepare themselves for these positions; the confirmation, election, and selection processes; and the skills and duties required to do the job. What is a day in the life? How is a lawyer effective in these different positions? And what does leadership mean for a judge, a senator, and a presidential advisor?

*This course will meet on Monday, July 22; Tuesday, July 23, and Monday, July 29 - Thursday, August 1, including Wednesday, July 31.

Arguing to Win: Legal Persuasion and Analysis (7:30-9:00 pm)

Professor Rebecca Rich

This course introduces students to the persuasive writing and advocacy skills that law students must learn in law school and lawyers regularly use in the practice of law. Throughout the class, students will hone these skills through brief-writing and oral advocacy simulations. The course will expose students to core components of a legal writing or legal skills class, which is a required part of the first-year curriculum at most law schools. Thus, students potentially interested in applying to law school will especially benefit from the course. It is also an excellent companion to Professor Siegel’s “How to ‘Think Like a Lawyer’” class.