James Douglass Poteat
Professor of Law, 1936-1946

J. Douglass Poteat was brought to Duke by Dean Claude Horack in 1936.  He had a successful private practice in Greenville S.C. before joining the Duke faculty, giving him a pragmatic view on legal matters which students found memorable.  His academic credentials included an S.J.D. from Yale which Dean Justin Miller had encouraged him to pursue. 

Poteat completed his A.B. and LL.B. degrees at Furman in 1923 and 1926.  He practiced law until 1930 when he became a professor of law at his alma mater.  After completing his S.J.D. he returned to practice until joining the Duke Law faculty.

In 1942 Poteat took a leave of absence to serve in the National Defense effort.  He was first appointed assistant general counsel to a department of the Foreign Economic Administration, and later made a special assistant to the U.S. Ambassador in London.  Late in the war Poteat was successfully involved in a covert diplomatic mission to persuade a manufacturer in Sweden to reduce shipments of ball bearings to the Third Reich.

Poteat resigned from Duke Law after the war to work with the American Red Cross.  In late 1946 he became administrative head of the American Cancer Society, and in 1949 was appointed executive vice president of the Memorial Hospital Center for Cancer and Allied Diseases in New York.  Poteat died on March 16, 1950.


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

Portrait of Professor Poteat Presented, Winter 1991 Duke Law Magazine [perma.cc/MP6U-8CE3] 27

Robert F. Durden, The Rebuilding of Duke University's School of Law, 1925-1947 (Part I)[https://perma.cc/K4QM-XH3A], vol. LXVI, no. 3, July 1989 North Carolina History Review 321

Robert F. Durden, The Rebuilding of Duke University's School of Law, 1925-1947 (Part II)[https://perma.cc/V2QP-KHR2], vol. LXVI, no. 4, October 1989 North Carolina History Review 443

Robert F. Durden, The Launching of Duke University, 1924-1949 (1993)

James Douglass Poteat
Historic Faculty