Malcolm McDermott
Professor of Law, 1930-1954, Professor of Law Emeritus, 1954-1967

Malcolm McDermott was already an experienced lawyer and legal educator when he joined the Duke Law faculty in 1930.  He had been a practicing attorney for over fifteen years and served as Dean of the College of Law at the University of Tennessee for a decade.  At Duke Law McDermott was the Director of the Department of Legislative Research and Drafting from 1931 to 1936.  He was a member of both the North Carolina Commission for Revision of Laws Relating to Estates and the North Carolina Commission for Revision of Insurance Laws.  McDermott was also a member and vice chairman of the North Carolina General Statutes Commission.  In 1951 and 1952 he was a legal consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense.

McDermott played a role in the addition of a word to the English language.  In 1932 he collaborated with a Polish legal scholar, Raphael Lemkin, to translate the Polish criminal code into English.  When World War II broke out McDermott secured a position for Lemkin with Duke University.  Lemkin went on to coin the term “genocide” before the end of the war.

McDermott completed his A.B. at Princeton in 1910 and an LL.B. at Harvard in 1913.  He started a general practice which he continued after becoming Dean of the College of Law at the University of Tennessee in 1920.  McDermott assumed emeritus status in 1954 and died in 1967.


Duke University, School of Law, Bulletin of Duke University School of Law [serial]

The Man Who Criminalized Genocide [], Duke Magazine, (November 14, 2013)

Malcolm McDermott
Historic Faculty