Professional Development at Duke Law
In addition to their academic coursework, all Duke Law students complete a two-credit non-academic graduation requirement related to their professional identity and development (PD).
The purpose of the PD credit is to help students identify and build essential professional skills they will need to succeed in the legal profession, to support them in being intentional about the professional identity they foster, and to ensure their awareness of the special obligations and role of lawyers in society. The PD credit is designed to be an integrated experience, with students earning the credit both inside the classroom and outside the law school, through summer work and substantive and practical training.
During their first year, students attend classroom sessions intended to familiarize them with law school and the legal profession. The goals of the course are law school preparedness for academic engagement; self-assessment and reflection; communication and personal professionalism skills; and wellness and stress management. Students are also expected to meet with their assigned career counselor to develop a personal narrative as they begin to consider employment opportunities and prepare written documents such as cover letters and resumes. Throughout both the fall and spring semesters, first-year students will have the opportunity to engage in pro bono and public service activities and attend various programs and events sponsored by the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) to offer exposure to different career paths and the values, principles, and practices of successful attorneys.
At the outset and again at the conclusion of both their 1L and 2L summers, students engage in goal-setting and self-reflection to directly link their studies, skills development, and courses to their summer internships and their burgeoning legal careers and professional identities. These exercises serve to deepen the connections between the substantive and practical training students undergo throughout their time in law school. Students are asked to consider their strengths and weaknesses in the context of their summer positions, so they might plan their upper-level coursework accordingly. In addition, these self-reflections are an opportunity for students to think about how their courses, as well as their professional experiences and interactions, have affected their understanding of the ways bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism affect the legal profession and practice of law, and their role in addressing those impacts.