SILLC Structure

Main Content

This year, the Institute will operate entirely online. Institute faculty are reshaping the course to on online format that will provide all the content of the traditional, in-person program plus additional one-on-one support for participants. The reshaped Institute will continue to prepare students to start their LLM program or other U.S. legal endeavors with the confidence and skills necessary for success.

The Institute begins with an assessment of each participant’s abilities in spoken and written English. Students then work with Institute faculty to develop a priority list of skills and subjects to work on during the four-week program. The course combines online classroom learning with experiential and tutorial methods to maximize each individual’s growth.

Participants spend an average of four hours of class time each day in online lectures, tutorials, class discussions, and virtual field trips or other media experiences. Preparation of research and writing assignments usually occupies another four hours each day.

Institute students work on developing foundational skills essential to their law school experience, such as briefing cases, conducting legal research, and completing introductory legal writing projects. Students also “visit” courtrooms through on-line tools to analyze the role of lawyers and judges in U.S. courts, and will experience U.S. law school culture through lectures, tutorials, and online conversations with Duke Law students and professors.

In addition to providing students substantive knowledge and legal skills, the Institute encourages student interaction and collegiality. Institute students form a supportive bond with each other that facilitates a smooth start to the Duke LLM program and creation of a continued personal and professional network.


SILLC was an enjoyable, educational, and enlightening experience. It prepared me for the LLM program socially and mentally. I am more than glad I attended it.

Jehan Al-Saeed '14 (Saudi Arabia)
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SILLC provides students a strong foundation for beginning law school. In addition to daily speaking practice, pronunciation work, and grammar exercises, the institute covers common law reasoning, the fundamentals of legal writing, the U.S. court structure, and an overview of law school classes and the U.S. legal culture. 

In addition to the SILLC instructors, a member of the legal writing faculty teaches students some of the foundational skills necessary to succeed in legal writing. Students spend time learning how to brief a case, extract a rule, and organize a legal issue for a memorandum or course exam. The daily assignments help students to not only improve grammar and writing style, they familiarize students with various legal sources and subjects. 

After the summer portion of the institute, SILLC students receive continued support in the form of small-group tutorial sessions and individual meetings. The small-group tutorial sessions allow students to continue to work on grammar, spoken English, and other skills necessary to succeed with course work, research papers, and exams. 

Special Note

The Duke Law School International Studies Program encourages enrollment in the Institute for students who need to strengthen their English skills before entering the LLM program. The program has also proven highly effective for visiting international scholars.


For more information please contact:

Ms. Isik Cotten
Summer Institute on Law, Language, & Culture
Duke University School of Law
210 Science Drive
Box 90365
Durham, NC 27708-0365 USA
Telephone: 919.613.7130
Fax: 919.681.6550