How to Get into Duke Law School

Duke Law School

Program Overview

A medium-sized program, Duke Law places particular emphasis on preparing lawyers in legal fields that are likely to be in high demand over the coming decades. Those who have walked the halls of Duke Law include notable alumni President Richard Nixon and broadcaster Jay Bilas.

“The Duke Way” or “Blueprint” is “a combination of intellectual engagement at the highest level, a commitment to serving the common good, and extraordinary collaboration and collegiality.” In an effort to produce lawyers that will be in high demand, Duke offers many classes concentrated on business and finance law, international and comparative law, constitutional and public law, and fields relating to science and technology such as intellectual property, environmental, telecommunications, biotech, and health. Duke’s “Capstone Project” gives students the unique opportunity to develop a specialized project in a chosen area of study and receive individualized guidance from faculty.

Located in Durham, N.C., Duke enjoys the benefits of the warmer weather, lower costs of living, and access to the outdoors. Located on a once-quieter side of the University’s 13,000-student campus, the Law School was recently renovated and now boasts new buildings, a modernized library and classrooms, and an outdoor courtyard, attracting more bustling activity. Most students live off campus in privately-owned apartment complexes. Because public transportation is limited, a car is considered very useful. School spirit is exemplified by the “Cameron Crazies,” the student section supporting the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team. Durham has a well-established convoy of food trucks, bar life is on the uptick, and the area enjoys a robust indie music scene.


Duke’s entering class is approximately 220 students. 1Ls enroll in a foundational curriculum of six semester-long classes and two year-long classes (Foundations of Law and Legal Analysis, Research and Writing). The majority of Duke’s upper-level curriculum consists of classes of 25 students or less. Upper class students are required to complete at least six experiential credits, which can be satisfied by taking a variety of clinics, practice simulations or externships.

In connection with receiving a J.D., Duke offers multiple dual degree programs, with the opportunity to obtain an M.D., Master of Environmental Management, Master of Public Policy, Master of Theological Studies, or one of several Law & Business degrees. Candidates apply separately each school and will receive independent decisions regarding admissions. Students with high academic qualifications, requisite foreign language facility, and “cross-cultural adaptability” can take advantage of a one-semester study abroad to learn the legal practice and traditions of a particular foreign country.

Duke Law School does not release class rank.

Clinical and Experiential Learning

Duke Legal Clinics operate collectively as a public interest law firm with eleven distinct practice areas and is housed in its own wing of the law school. Among the more unique clinics are the HIV/Aids Policy Clinic, Advanced Guantanamo Defense Clinic, Corporate Counseling and Communication, and the Wrongful Convictions Clinic. In accordance with North Carolina State Bar rules, a student may enroll in a clinic after his/her third semester of law school (except for a few select clinics which cannot be enrolled in until a student’s fourth semester). For most clinics, students are also required to take an ethics class. Generally, a student may only enroll in one clinic per semester and must obtain written permission to enroll in two in the same semester. Students interested in extending their work in a clinic beyond one semester may enroll in the advanced version of the clinic with written permission from the appropriate clinic professor. Duke’s Externship Program offers students the chance to enroll in Individual Externships (where students take a class while also working at a partnering organization), Integrated Externships (where multiple students’ externships share a subject matter or placement cite), and Faculty-Mentored Externships (where students pursue a full-time field placement taken in conjunction with a research paper, tutorial, or other faculty-guided academic requirement).


Class Profile

Class Size: 220

Average Age: 24

Women: 59%

Students of color: 38%

Median LSAT: 169

Median GPA: 3.78

Career Placement

  • Law Firms: 66.8%
  • Judicial Clerkships: 16.8%
  • Business & Industry: 1.8%
  • Government/Public Interest: 9.1%
  • Education: 0.9%


  • Northeast/Mid-Atlantic: 45%
  • Central: 10%
  • South Atlantic/Central: 18%
  • Mountain/Pacific: 20%
  • U.S. Territories/Foreign: 9%