New JD students launched their legal careers at Duke Law with a week of orientation activities that included a day of service in Durham, opportunities to meet faculty and new students in the LLM programs, and an introduction to the Dean’s Course, a mandatory yearlong class focusing on the legal profession taught by Dean David F. Levi.
During his orientation remarks, Associate Dean Bill Hoye noted that the students in the new class are among the most academically qualified ever admitted to the Law School.
“Before you were the relatively small group of students assembled here today, you were a much larger group of applicants,” he said. “This year, we received over 7,900 applications. To put this in perspective, for each one of you here today, 33 applied to be in your place.
“At Duke, we do not focus exclusively on LSAT scores and GPAs, but instead consider the full context of your educational and personal experiences,” Hoye added. “But you should know that your class does have impressive grades and test scores. In fact, based on these numerical indicators your class easily ranks competitively with the entering classes at the nation’s most selective law schools.”
Admission to Duke was so competitive this year that, for the first time in recent history, the Law School could not extend admission to any student on the waitlist. Applications for admission in 2010 were 25 percent higher than in 2009, and the admission rate was a record low 13.2 percent. See the JD Class of 2013 profile here.
The class includes graduates of 116 national and international undergraduate institutions, with students who most recently lived in eight foreign countries and 39 states, plus the District of Columbia. The largest cohort in the class — 31 students — is from California.
The class includes a member of the Obama Presidential Transition Team; a former Iraq grants specialist in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; and a former employee of the State Department’s Office of Presidential Appointments. Many students were educators, having taught abroad, in grade schools, and through Teach for America. One student was a congressional reporter for the Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal; several served in the armed forces, and one received a Bronze Star. A former EPA biologist; a software engineer; an Ernst & Young accountant; a certified wild land firefighter; a city planner; and a co-founder of the Hardscrabble Brewing Co. are also among the entering class.
During orientation activities, incoming students lunched with alumni David Ichel ’78, a partner with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in Washington, D.C., and chair of Duke Law’s Board of Visitors, and Judge Allyson Duncan ’75 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Duncan led the class in recitation of the Duke Law Pledge, which includes a commitment to the principles of honesty, trustworthiness, fairness, and respect for others.
Students also participated in a day of service in the Durham community; panel discussions about life inside and outside the classroom with upper-class students; and an emotional presentation by Darryl Hunt, who spent 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Two clients of Duke Law’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic, Shawn Massey and Jonathan Scott Pierpont, also were on hand to talk about their recent exonerations after serving a combined total of 30 years for crimes they did not commit. Both men were freed thanks to the untiring efforts of Duke Law students and faculty who handled their cases.
Pursuing justice and living with purpose were two themes emphasized throughout the week’s activities, which explored the practical applications of Duke’s Blueprint to LEAD, a set of values and characteristics that help guide student life and programming at Duke Law.
In welcoming the new students to Duke, Hoye encouraged them to “hold tightly to the goals and values that many of you so eloquently expressed” in application essays.
“When you do, and as you continue to reach toward all that inspires you,” he added, “you will find in return that countless individuals and organizations will benefit from your guidance and leadership; your communities will thrive because of your active service and engagement; and the world will become a more hopeful place because you have lived in it with purpose.”