PUBLISHED:February 05, 2010

Patrick Duggan JD/MA '10 and Meredith Toole '10 accepted into DOJ Honors Program

Two Duke Law students have been accepted into the Department of Justice’s highly competitive Honors Program and will join the agency in the fall of 2010.

A dual-degree candidate pursuing a master’s degree in environmental science and policy, Patrick Duggan ’10 was an environmental consultant before coming to law school.

“I came to law school specifically to study environmental law,” Duggan says. “Being accepted into this program validated my decision to come to Duke.”

Meredith Toole ’10 spent the summer after her 1L year as an intern with the civil fraud section of the commercial litigation branch and says she is excited to be returning.

“It was an awesome experience,” she says of the internship. “Everyone there seemed really enthusiastic and you could tell they loved their jobs.

“There was also an emphasis on teamwork,” she continues. “They included everyone on the cases, even the interns.”

The Honors Program is the only way entry-level attorneys can join the DOJ. According to its website, the department selects its employees based on their academic achievement, participation in a journal or moot court competitions, legal aid and clinical experience, summer or part-time legal employment, and other factors — specialized academic studies or academic degrees, work experience, and extracurricular activities — related to the work of the department.

Both students attribute their experiences at Duke Law to their acceptance into the program.

“Duke is small and if you really have a passion for something, you can own it,” says Duggan, who led the Environmental Law Society for two years, served as student liaison to the Energy Subcommittee of Duke’s university-wide Sustainability Committee, is currently the editor in chief of the Duke Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, and has participated in the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic for the past year.

For Toole, the opportunity to study abroad in Argentina provided unique insight that she believes set her apart.

“Everyone says that the only way you can really learn a language is to go to a country that speaks it,” says Toole, who minored in Spanish at Vanderbilt University. “In Argentina, I was surprised by how much they talked about the U.S. It made me realize that even though our system is often criticized, a lot of other countries do look to it as a model.”

Both Duggan and Toole say they are looking forward to starting their careers at the DOJ. “The people who work there seem to have a great deal of respect for the honors attorneys,” Duggan says. “It’s clear that they really count on them to do substantive work.”