PUBLISHED:May 16, 2024

Nick Opoku LLM ’24 selected for Duke Law’s Farrin Fellowship


Opoku is the first international law student to receive the award.

Opoku Opoku

Nick Opoku LLM ‘24 has been selected to receive Duke Law School’s Farrin Fellowship, a one-year paid fellowship awarded to a graduating student who has displayed a strong focus on public interest work throughout their studies and professional learning experiences.

The first LLM graduate to receive the fellowship, Opoku will join Common Cause, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on voting rights and good governance, where he will work within the redistricting and representation policy team.

“We are thrilled Nick is the inaugural LLM fellow for the Farrin Fellowship,” said Assistant Dean for International Studies Jabrina Robinson. “He is excited to embark on his year-long work on democracy issues with Common Cause, where his litigation and advocacy skills will support historically marginalized groups in North Carolina and throughout the U.S.”

Prior to attending Duke Law, Opoku worked for a top corporate firm in Ghana where he advised local and international clients, including a major oil corporation and the fourth largest U.S. bank, on a variety of commercial transactions and regulatory compliance issues.

He also has a strong background in constitutional, legislative, and policy reform. As a law student, he worked as a legal and governance policy analyst for the Centre for Democratic Development in Ghana, assisting the Centre on a number of constitutional cases in Ghana’s Supreme Court.

He saw that work reflected in the mission of Common Cause, where he said he will be working “to ensure that the drawing of voting maps is more transparent, less partisan, and centered on the needs of communities.”

“We are witnessing a period of considerable democratic erosion in the U.S. and around the world,” Opoku said. “In the recent past, some state legislatures have instituted laws intended to politicize election administration and foreclose electoral competition via extreme gerrymandering. As lawyers, there are many ways in which we can channel our skills and talents to addressing some of these issues. Working to support the efforts of pro-democracy institutions like Common Cause is one of them.”

Ghana, Opoku says, has roughly the same governance problems as the U.S. when it comes to redistricting processes and Common Cause gets to the root of the issues through strategic litigation, ballot initiatives, and public education.

“I have seen the impact [manipulation of redistricting processes] has on inclusive development and people’s abilities to equally participate in the democratic process. It’s a privilege to be a part of that effort as a fellow. My plan is to get involved and see how much I can contribute to the team at Common Cause, leveraging my skills and experience as a lawyer, and what I have learned at Duke Law,” said Opoku.

While at Duke Law, Opoku worked on civic education initiatives as a research assistant for the Bolch Judicial Institute, he joined the Law School’s Criminal Record Expunction Clinic, and served as the LLM representative for the Law School’s Black Law Students Association.

He also served as a research assistant to Duke Law professors Jim Cox and H. Timothy Lovelace, a notable historian of the civil rights movement, under whose guidance Opoku researched and critiqued Supreme Court decisions and also explored the key issues that undermine judicial accountability, and how corporate political spending impacts multi-racial democracy in the U.S. today.

“Nick is a hardworking student who wrote a series of strong memos analyzing the majority and concurring opinions in [Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard]. His deep commitment to civil rights makes me certain of his success as the Farrin Fellow,” said Lovelace, Duke Law’s John Hope Franklin Research Scholar.

The Farrin Fellowship was established in 2021 by James Farrin ’90 and his wife, Robin Farrin. It is one of three year-long paid fellowships offered by the Law School.

“I am humbled to be the first LLM student selected for the prestigious Farrin Fellowship. I am grateful to James Farrin ’90 and his law firm for this opportunity that allows Duke Law graduates to support individuals and groups who have historically faced discrimination. Serving as a fellow at Common Cause is a fantastic opportunity that directly serves the purpose of this fellowship,” said Opoku.