PUBLISHED:May 20, 2016

From the Dean

Dean David F. LeviWhen we ask our students and alumni why they chose to attend Duke Law School, one reason they give is the opportunity to be part of a great university. They saw the chance not just to get an outstanding legal education but also to tap into the intellectual energy emanating from every corner at Duke, from the worldclass medical center to the top-flight schools of business, public policy, and engineering.

Indeed, interdisciplinary engagement is one of the great strengths of this law school. The expertise of our faculty is both wide and deep, which enables our students to learn from leading scholars of political science, economics, health policy, and philosophy even without leaving the building. Many in our community also participate in cross-campus initiatives such as Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship, the Duke Global Health Initiative, and Bass Connections, which funds interdisciplinary teams of students and faculty engaged in ambitious projects to address critical societal challenges, such as climate change.

Another example of crossing disciplinary lines, the Duke Initiative for Science & Society, is the subject of this issue’s cover story. Led by Nita Farahany ’04, a Duke-educated professor of law, the initiative is bringing together scholars from across the university to address the societal impact of scientific and technological advancements. The initiative examines how such changes are affecting the law, from the increasing use of brain science in criminal courtrooms to the ethical questions surrounding the emergence of genetic testing.

As our story shows, this is a new language that many lawyers will need to master. students here can now pursue a JD/MA in bioethics and science policy, a unique dual-degree program that can be completed in three years. This opportunity has proven quite popular among students who aspire to careers in regulatory agencies, start-up businesses, or intellectual property practices. a key feature is a summer practicum after the first year in washington, D.C., working on the front lines of these fields.

A generation ago, such highly specialized legal training might have been unorthodox. Today, it’s just one way in which our students can explore the law’s intersection with other forces in our society. It also is one of the many benefits of being part of a great university.

A critical factor in our ability to offer students and faculty interdisciplinary opportunities is your financial support. I’m pleased to report that at the end of March, we passed another milestone in our Duke Forward fundraising campaign, exceeding $100 million in pledges and gifts. We are immensely grateful to our alumni and friends who have so generously supported this campaign, the biggest in the history of the Law school. With a little over a year to go until the campaign ends, I am looking forward to a strong finish.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not note the passing of Antonin Scalia on Feb. 13. Justice Scalia was a good friend, to me and to this institution. He visited us on many occasions, judging the Dean’s Cup, teaching in the Duke-Geneva Institute in Transnational Law and in the judicial master’s program, and last May speaking to judges of the U.S. Tax Court when they met here.

Like many others, I have unusually vivid recollections of Justice Scalia. How could it not be? His force field was that powerful.

He taught judicial writing in our Master’s of Judicial Studies program for sitting judges, and it was surely a highlight. One afternoon, he resumed class after a break saying, “now let’s talk about footnotes,” in a tone that conveyed that this must be the topic that everyone had been waiting for. And was he ever right. Every judicial hand shot up, there was so much to say. This was such a lovely reminder that the craft of judging transcends politics, ideology, and judicial philosophy. Whether experienced judges or eager 2Ls, our students were fortunate to have the chance to learn from Justice Scalia.

Thank you for your continued support of Duke Law school.

David F. Levi
Dean and Professor of Law