International Students

Duke Law School warmly welcomes international students from countries throughout the world to all its programs of study. The presence of students from a wide variety of cultures and legal systems greatly enhances the education of all Duke Law School students. Highly qualified foreign university graduates who seek exposure to the American legal system and the legal profession are encouraged to apply to one of the following degree programs. Information about graduate programs for international students at Duke University School of Law and study abroad opportunities is also available online at law.duke.edu/international.

Placement with American Legal Employers

International students may find that they would like to complete their legal education with an internship at an American legal employer such as a law firm, an NGO, or an international organization. Students are welcome to use the services of the law school’s Career and Professional Development Center, which has a counselor who specializes in advising international LLM students and JD students seeking overseas positions. The office sponsors special sessions for international students in order to explain the placement process, to help with writing résumés and with interview techniques, and to offer other kinds of assistance as necessary. LLM Students from Duke participate in an annual job fair held in New York at which law firms from the United States and abroad interview job applicants. The visa office at Duke will help students obtain permission to engage in a period of practical training following completion of the degree program. Duke Law School cannot guarantee that students will have success in locating a position with an American employer. To facilitate the job search, international students are advised to make contact with American employers, if possible, before they leave their home countries. Students who have the benefit of at least two years of legal experience before they pursue the LLM degree are often the most successful in finding positions with American law firms. While not all states allow LLM graduates to sit for the bar exam, many Duke LLM graduates sit for the New York bar exam. In the recent years, LLM students also took California, Texas and Illinois bar exams. . Many students remain at Duke University to take bar exam preparation courses in the summer after graduation.

Special Features of Duke for International Students

The size of the international student body at Duke Law School is large enough to make its presence felt at the school, but not so large as to be a totally separate entity. All international students are supported in their efforts to become an integral part of the Duke community. To this end, the university’s International House sponsors orientation sessions, offers the opportunity for foreign students to have a host family in Durham, and provides a number of special programs and services throughout the year. Duke Law School also conducts a week-long orientation for all international students. International students are selected as representatives to the Duke Bar Association. All clubs and associations, the International Law Society and Pro-Bono Program in particular, encourage the participation of international students. Several law journals provide opportunities for international students to submit articles and for LLM students to participate as staff members in the production of the journal.

The Office of the Associate Dean for International Studies is responsible for the admission of international applicants, orientation, academic and adaptation counseling, and other services for international students. Each LLM student is assigned to an academic advisor who offers guidance with course selection. The legal research and writing course is carefully structured to familiarize students with the law library, legal writing techniques of a gradually more demanding nature, and the skills necessary for a beginning law office associate to function effectively. The course Law 395.01 (Distinctive Aspects of US Law) provides an introduction to various areas of American law, the legal profession, and the judicial process. The goal of the LLM program is to provide international students with the most complete exposure to American law and culture that can be accomplished in one academic year.

All international students are welcome to attend one of the law school’s summer institutes. The Duke-Leiden Institute in Global and Transnational Law is cosponsored by the University of Leiden and located in Leiden and the Hague in the Netherlands. It runs for four and a half weeks from mid-June to mid-July. The Summer Institute on Law, Language and Culture (SILLC) is conducted at Duke for three and a half weeks. It runs from mid-July to mid-August.

Courses at the Leiden Institute are taught in English, by American (usually Duke) and non-American faculty. One course provides an introduction to the American legal system. In addition to course instruction, the institute offers afternoon seminars on international or comparative law topics. The Duke-Leiden Institute takes advantage of the many international courts and organizations located in the Hague to take students to the organization for presentations on international law topics by highly placed officials. LLM students enrolled at Duke who attend the Duke-Leiden Institute may be able to earn up to six course credits toward their degree.

SILLC is designed as an introduction to the US legal system. Students read, write, and discuss in small class meetings a wide variety of US legal issues and legal vocabulary. They receive instruction in research and writing as well as oral expression. They prepare for studying at US law schools, as well as visit courts and law firms in the region, observing trials and speaking with judges, prosecutors, and attorneys. SILLC does not award academic credit.

The Duke-Leiden Institute will enroll approximately forty students from Duke and other American law schools, as well as students and graduates from law schools throughout the world. While the largest group of students tends to come from the United States, students enroll from a wide range of countries, and may include judges, lawyers, faculty members, and government officials.

SILLC enrolls approximately thirty-five students each year. While the majority of SILLC students then matriculate in the Duke or other LLM programs, SILLC students also include law students and attorneys who want to improve their legal English while receiving an introduction to the US legal system but do not intend to immediately enroll in an LLM program.

Brochures describing the Duke-Leiden Institute can be obtained from Duke University School of Law, while SILLC is described online. For a description or for additional information on admissions, faculty, and course listings of the Duke-Leiden Institute, visit law.duke.edu/summerinstitutes.