PUBLISHED:August 18, 2011

Welcoming the Law School's newest students

Duke Law’s newest students have arrived on campus to begin their legal training and launch their careers. The JD Class of 2014 and LLM Class of 2012 are immersed in Lawyer Education and Development (LEAD) Week, a weeklong orientation to Law School, Duke, and Durham.

Students beginning work on their JD degrees number 212, while 96 students are enrolled in the one-year LLM program which introduces foreign law graduates to the U.S. legal system and immerses them in advanced courses in specialized areas of the law. Also furthering their law school experience are three SJD students, 17 students enrolled in the Law and Entrepreneurship LLM program, and 15 foreign exchange students.

LEAD Week includes a day of volunteering dubbed Dedicated to Durham, opportunities to glean career and academic advice from Law School faculty, alumni, and upper-year students, and an introduction for the JDs to the Dean’s Course, a mandatory yearlong class focusing on the legal profession taught by Dean David F. Levi.

Much of the LEAD week activity focuses on the principles espoused by Duke’s Blueprint to LEAD, a set of values and characteristics that help guide student life and programming at Duke Law. Associate Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs Bill Hoye told students that the Blueprint “can provide a powerful framework for your experience at the Law School and as a Duke-trained lawyer in practice.”

Hoye noted the impressive credentials of the incoming students in his welcome address to the JD class on Aug. 16.

“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 6,100 [JD] applications. To put this in perspective, for each one of you here today, 28 applied to be in your place.”

Hoye also noted their diversity of experience and background. Members of the JD class hold degrees from 96 undergraduate institutions around the world; students have lived, most recently, in eight foreign countries and 36 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The largest cohort in the class — 27 students — hail from California. Citizens of Albania, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, South Korea, Romania, Singapore, the United States, and Venezuela are among those beginning work on their JD degrees.

LLM students came from 31 countries, and include the Law School’s first Egyptian student and a graduate of Saudi Arabia’s first law school class for women. The international students also included the Law School’s first recipient of a Ford Foundation International Fellowship. This fellowship identifies potential leaders in historically disadvantaged groups from outside the United States. The fellow at Duke this year is a public prosecutor from Kenya.

Assistant Dean for International Studies Jennifer Maher said that several of the international students have many years of practice experience. They include a former law clerk to the Brazilian Supreme Court and a Canadian Air Force officer who is on the Military Justice Strategic Response Team and was previously legal advisor to Task Force Commander (Canada) posted in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Several also have many years of experience in-house counsel to large international companies in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

“Some of the best law firms around the world, including prominent firms in China, Japan and Korea, are represented in the LLM program by their associates,” Maher said. “The LLM students who come to Duke directly from the law faculties of the best universities around the world have fluency in several languages and significant pro bono and internship experience, including a young Venezuelan woman who is one of the national coordinators of an organization dedicated to voting transparency in her country.”

The JD class includes a a musician with two albums and more than 100 live performances in his catalogue; and a former assistant vice president for Wells Fargo Securities in New York. Many students were educators, having taught abroad, in public and prep schools, and through Teach for America. One student worked for the National Republican Congressional Committee, doing opposition research on the Democratic effort; another worked for the campaign of U.S. Representative Steve Israel, D-NY, doing opposition research on the Republican effort. One student was a Princeton in Asia Fellow in Cambodia — working for the Southeast Asia Investigation into Social and Humanitarian Activities, an Australian non-governmental organization that works to counter human trafficking.

On their first day of orientation, JD students enjoyed a “professionalism luncheon” with alumnae Cheryl Scarboro ’89, a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and former associate director in the Division of Enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Judge Allyson Duncan ’75 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

JD students will also watch the award-winning HBO documentary The Trials of Darryl Hunt, about a man who served 18 years in North Carolina prisons for an assault he didn’t commit. Hunt, who has been active in innocence work since his 2003 release, will address the students with his attorney, Mark Rabil. Clinical Professor Theresa Newman ’88, co-director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic and one of the faculty advisors for the student-run Innocence Project, will moderate the discussion. Duke Law’s Innocence Project relies on first year students to supply the first-tier of investigation as they examine plausible claims of actual innocence from prisoners in North Carolina.

Hoye told the students that LEAD Week marks the beginning of “several years of very hard work.

“Many of you will look back on these years and recall intellectual challenges more difficult than you ever faced before,” he said. “But you will also most certainly remember your time at Duke Law as one of the most thrilling and exhilarating experiences of your life.”

LEAD Week is sponsored by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.