Founded almost a century ago, Duke’s School of Law enrolls over 600 Juris Doctor students who, upon graduating, receive job offers from more than 400 law firms!
The institution offers fields of study in nine concentrations, such as Corporate and Financial Law, Criminal Law and Policy, and Health Law and Policy.
Within the Technology, Science, and Innovation pathway, JD candidates study the intersection of business, privacy, and intellectual property policies.
They may enroll in a class like Frontier AI & Robotics (Law and Ethics), wherein they examine ways to ensure that human-AI interactions occur in safe venues and constraints.
Duke School of Law also grants students the opportunity to earn dual degrees, which nearly 15% of its JD students pursue. One of its most popular dual degree programs is the JD/LLM in International and Comparative Law.
Duke University is located in the rapidly developing area of Durham, North Carolina – one of several cities that make up the Research Triangle Park. Home to a thriving culinary, recreational, and entertainment scene, Durham offers plenty of activities for students to enjoy when they need time away from their studies.
The school reports Durham’s cost of living is approximately a quarter lower than the national average.
It takes a special person to enter one of the world’s best law schools. Continue reading to learn about Duke School of Law’s acceptance rate, rankings, notable alumni, and admission requirements, as well as the exciting programs that admitted students can participate in throughout their course of study.
Duke University School of Law Acceptance Rate
The acceptance rate into Duke University School of Law is 14.45%.
Duke Law School is, unsurprisingly, one of the most competitive law schools in the nation, and is one of the T14 law schools. The Office of Admissions received 7,255 applications for the incoming class of 2024, and only 282 students enrolled (a 3.9% rate).
Those who enrolled in Duke Law’s class of 2024 join a diverse study body hailing from all regions of the nation and world. The average age of an admit was 23.4, ranging from 20 to 38 years of age. 55% of the enrolled cohort were female, while 45% were male. Additionally, 37% of the cohort’s students identify as people of color.
Those accepted to Duke Law School’s class of 2024 have diverse academic backgrounds, as well. Juris Doctor students have obtained master’s degrees in subjects like biology, international relations, economics, and art business. They have experience as teachers, business entrepreneurs, athletes, and non-profit leaders.
Gaining admission to Duke Law School is quite an accomplishment – those who enroll can expect to participate in first-year courses with fewer than 30 students. First-year classes will rarely exceed 90 students.
Duke Law School GPA & Requirements
While Duke Law School does not stipulate a minimum GPA or LSAT score, applicants should represent the highest echelon of achievement.
In analyzing the class of 2024’s data, its median GPA was 3.82, and its median LSAT score was 170, with the middle 50% of enrolled students scoring between 167-172 (the highest possible score is 180, and the lowest possible score is 120).
The Office of Admissions thoroughly evaluates each applicant’s background, including their academic record, curricular rigor, grades, and test scores. Candidates must obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university before enrollment.
Most importantly, Duke School of Law desires to admit applicants who demonstrate consistent leadership and engagement within a particular field (like environmental law or intellectual property law).
Interested candidates need to submit several items as part of their application, the first being a JD application submitted through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and an $80 fee.
Applicants may request a need-based, merit-based, or service-based fee waiver. The need-based waiver is granted according to financial records, the second based on LSAT scores and GPAs, and the latter from experience in the military, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or Teach for America.
Next, candidates will upload their professional résumés, personal statements, and optional essays. The résumé should include an applicant’s work and educational background, a list of honors received, prior affiliation with Duke’s campus, and meaningful activities within a collegiate or community setting.
The personal statement allows candidates to represent themselves and their achievements beyond the space a résumé affords.
Additionally, hopeful law students should elaborate on their personal and career-related goals. There are two optional essays (we recommend completing both, and there is no minimum or maximum word length).
The first essay prompts students to narrate the evolution of their interest in a legal career and to expand on how they believe Duke can support them in their endeavors.
The second essay focuses on diversity of experiences and asks applicants to detail the unique perspective they would contribute to the overall student milieu.
Applicants are responsible for uploading LSAT and/or GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, official copies of academic transcripts, and a letter from their previous law school (if applicable).
Applicants must register with the LSAC Credential Assembly Service, which the admission team will request upon receipt of all applications.
The admissions committee will accept up to four letters of recommendation – at least one should come from an educator who can attest to the candidate’s aptitude, and a second should come from someone who can describe the candidate’s leadership and interpersonal skills.
Finally, all international applicants whose first language or the language of instruction at their undergraduate institution is not English must submit a TOEFL English proficiency score or participate in an interview.
Admissions strongly recommend that international applicants participate in the initial interview.
Duke Law School Notable Alumni
Many of the most reputable and accomplished lawyers, judges, and political figures in the nation earned their Juris Doctor at Duke Law School.
William B. Umstead – former Governor, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Representative of North Carolina – was a beloved member of his community who advocated for the state to build more schools and additional programs for those living with mental disorders.
He also worked to progress the integration of public schools following the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling.
Cheri Lynn Beasley is the first Black female chief justice to preside over the North Carolina Supreme Court. She earned her Master of Laws from Duke Law in 2018 and is currently running as the Democratic nominee for the 2022 U.S. Senate election in North Carolina.
Duke Law alum J. Michelle Childs is a current U.S. District Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Known for her expertise in employment and labor law, Childs was on President Joe Biden’s short-list to fill Justice Stephen Breyer’s position on the U.S. Supreme Court.
While known for his career as a Duke Basketball athlete and coach, ESPN commentator Jay Bilas is one of Duke Law’s most illustrious alumni.
One of Duke Law’s greatest assets is its Career & Professional Development Center, which supports recent graduates via career counseling services, feedback on job application materials, and interview preparation.
Duke University School of Law Ranking
Few institutions can boast the arsenal of top rankings that Duke maintains. The law school is considered a “T14” law school, meaning it has consistently positioned itself within the top 14 law schools since the U.S. News & World Report started publishing its list.
The Times Higher Education, Above the Law, and Business Insider have also ranked Duke Law in the top five spots regularly.
The Princeton Review has previously awarded Duke Law with the ranking of Best Professors, and for a good reason.
The school’s best-known faculty include Samuel Alito, James Earl Coleman, and Sarah Raskin. Samuel Alito is currently a Supreme Court Justice of the United States, while James Earl Coleman has served as the Director of the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility.
Duke Law faculty member Sarah Raskin has worked in several key positions within the United States government, including the U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and the Governor of the Federal Reserve.
Duke Law School also receives accolades for its students’ achievements and postgraduate success. 98% of the 2021 graduating class obtained employment within ten months of commencement, and their median starting salary in the private sector totaled $215,000 per year.
The class of 2020’s bar passage rate average was an impressive 98%, the 5th-highest passage rate in the nation among first-time test takers. According to recent data, Duke Law graduates continue to earn the highest paychecks well into their careers – the median annual salary of a Duke Law graduate is $243,000.
Should You Apply to Duke University School of Law?
Duke’s School of Law maintains partnerships with esteemed law schools all over the world. Duke recognizes the importance of a graduate’s ability to navigate transnational law and sends two students per year to one of its partner schools (such as Bucerius Law School in Germany, ITAM in Mexico, Tel Aviv University in Israel, and the National University of Singapore). The program is reserved for law students in the fall of the 3L year.
Many students enjoy the camaraderie and professional development opportunities offered through the school’s extracurricular programs.
For example, the Duke Law chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund is dedicated to helping students navigate ways to incorporate animal law into their legal professions. The Black Law Students Association aims to foster collaboration and career development opportunities within the Black legal community.
The Pro Bono Program is one of the best programs offered at the School of Law. Here, Juris Doctor candidates work alongside licensed attorneys, non-profit organizations, private firms, and local government agencies to gain an inside perspective on diverse cases.
Students engage in various tasks, from researching and interviewing to investigating and writing documents.
Students can work on task forces such as the Clemency Project, which seeks to achieve clemency for incarcerated persons who have demonstrated successful rehabilitation. Alternatively, they might serve as part of the Duke Immigrant and Refugee Project to help local immigrants achieve a sense of agency in their personal, social, and professional lives.
Duke Law has also set aside funds and resources to support students whose accomplishments merit financial support or who are in need of financial assistance.
The Mordecai Scholarship, for example, provides 3-6 full tuition merit awards annually – all students are considered for this honor during the separate scholarship application cycle.
The programs and opportunities mentioned, along with the outstanding faculty and degree programs, are only a few reasons why ambitious students and proven leaders should consider applying to Duke Law School.