Student organizations at Duke Law School represent a wide variety of cultural, intellectual, social, political, athletic, religious, and artistic interests, and their activities are an important complement to the curriculum. Students participate in more than fifty organizations under the umbrella of the Duke Bar Association (DBA), Duke Law’s student government. The DBA funds student groups, organizes social and community service events, and acts as a liaison between students, the faculty, and the administration. Any Duke Law student interested in starting a new organization may propose a charter to the DBA.
American Bar Association Law Student Division. The American Bar Association Law Student Division (ABA/LSD) promotes law student contact with the nation’s largest professional association for lawyers, the American Bar Association. Each year the student body elects ABA/LSD representatives who serve as liaisons between students and the ABA. For a small enrollment fee, any law student may join the Law Student Division and receive product discounts, a subscription to the ABA magazine, Student Lawyer, and information about the ABA’s programs and publications on specialized areas of the law. The ABA/LSD also promotes various advocacy and essay contests throughout the school year. The ABA/LSD shall be responsible for furthering the purposes and goals of the American Bar Association (ABA), particularly to promote the full and equal participation in the profession by minorities and women; to represent law students in the ABA and to represent the ABA to law students; to help shape the policies and priorities that affect legal education; and to create a deliberative forum for the exchange and expression of law student views and a voice with which to advocate those views.
American Civil Liberties Union. Since its founding in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been the nation’s guardian of liberty, working in our courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve individual working rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States. The Duke Law ACLU seeks to contribute to the academic dialogue of the Duke community by fostering intelligent and meaningful discussion of civil and individual liberties.
American Constitution Society. The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy is one of the nation’s leading progressive legal organizations. Founded in 2001, ACS is composed of law students, lawyers, scholars, judges, policymakers, activists, and other concerned individuals who are working to ensure that the fundamental principles of human dignity, individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, and access to justice are in their rightful place in American law.
Animal Legal Defense Fund. The Duke Law chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) is dedicated to providing a forum for education, discussion, and scholarship in the field of animal law for students at the law school. Furthermore, the SALDF is dedicated to helping Duke Law School students explore ways of incorporating the practice of animal law into their legal careers after law school.
Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. The Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) provides a forum in which members of the law school community can explore issues and engage in activities of interest to American students of Asian descent, foreign students from Asia, and other students and alumni interested in Asia and law. APALSA currently belongs to the National Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. In attending the national conferences of NAPALSA, group members may engage in dialogue with other law school students and maintain contact with the National Pacific Bar Association. In addition, APALSA fosters the social interaction of its members within Duke Law School and among the graduate and professional schools by hosting events such as a welcome dinner and a Lunar New Year dumpling celebration.
Black Graduate and Professional Student Association. The Black Graduate and Professional Student Association (BGPSA) is an organization designed to represent all minority graduate and professional students on the Duke University campus. BGPSA’s primary mission is to enhance the Duke experience for members through community service, social, and academically based programming. As an umbrella organization, members include students from the following groups: Black & Latino MBA Organization, Black Law Students Association, Black Seminarians Union, Bouchet Society, Hurston-James Society, and Student National Medical Association. Through academic forums, luncheons, community service initiatives, social events, and a spring recognition ceremony, BGPSA hopes to assist in the development of future minority leadership in the Duke community and the world at-large.
Black Law Students Association. The Black Law Students Association (BLSA) exists to address the unique needs and concerns of the black law students at Duke Law School, and to promote diversity within the Duke Law community and within the legal profession. Through the use of consistent social interaction and programming geared largely toward scholarship, career development, and community assistance, BLSA fosters academic achievement, community involvement, and, ultimately, the development of future black leadership in the legal profession.
Business Law Society. The Business Law Society (BLS) promotes social and academic interaction among Duke Law students interested in the various aspects of business, corporate, and financial law. BLS sponsors social activities, speakers, and symposia— including its showcase event, “Esq.”—that encourage cultural exchange and academic discussion, and generally provides a forum through which members may pursue their interests in developing a career in business law. The goal of the BLS is to enhance the legal education of its members and promote an inter-disciplinary curriculum in business, corporate, and financial law.
Christian Legal Society. The Duke Law School chapter of the Christian Legal Society is a multi-denominational fellowship of Christian law students working to integrate their faith in Christ with their law school experience and their legal careers. They seek to fulfill this mission through Bible study, meetings, prayer, and outreach endeavors, such as group-sponsored coffee breaks and bearing witness to the character of God individually in their other activities in the law school.
Coalition Against Gendered Violence. The group’s mission is threefold: (1) to raise awareness in the Duke Law community about domestic violence and sexual assault; (2) to foster student advocacy on behalf of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors; and (3) to identify gaps in services available to domestic violence and sexual assault victims in the Triangle area and develop pro bono projects to fill those gaps.
Duke Bar Association. The Duke Bar Association (DBA) coordinates professional, social, and other extracurricular activities of the student body. The DBA resembles in its composition and purpose both a university student government and a professional bar association. It addresses student grievances and serves as a mediator between students, faculty, and the administration. The association oversees all student organizations, publicizes Duke Law School activities, sponsors athletic and social programs, and disburses funds to support the school’s organizations. The DBA also hosts robust soccer, bowling, and softball leagues, bringing students together from each class, both genders, and the dozens of countries represented at Duke Law, proving a popular choice for relaxing outside of law school.
Duke Criminal Law Society. The Duke Criminal Law Society strives to promote criminal law dialogue, scholarship, and careers in the Duke Law community. The Society provides a forum for students to learn about emerging criminal law issues and contribute to criminal law scholarship, practice, and policy making through speakers, panels, pro bono opportunities, and field trips.
Duke Environmental Law Society. Founded in 1988, Duke Environmental Law Society (DELS) strives to promote student discussion and awareness of environmental issues. This is achieved by hosting individual speakers and panels to facilitate student discussions, participating in national competitions and conferences, and coordinating social and community service events. The goals of the DELS are to enhance legal education through the creation of a vital environmental law program at Duke Law and to promote career opportunities in environmental law in both the public and private sectors. Membership is open to all interested students.
Duke European Law Society. The Duke European Law Society aims to provide an intellectual and social forum for students who are from or interested in Europe by (1) fostering dialogue around current European law and politics through lunch panels; (2) connecting practitioners with students to inform them about the European legal market; and (3) providing a space for JDs, LLMs, and alumni to build long-lasting relationships and mentorship opportunities.
Duke Immigrant and Refugee Project. The Duke Immigrant and Refugee Project assists immigrants and refugees in the Triangle area to gain a sense of security and control over their lives by focusing its efforts on research, resources, and outreach for this target population. The Project offers research assistance on human rights and prepares legal memoranda for representatives of asylum seekers. The Project also undertakes multiple outreach efforts to provide needed resources to immigrant and refugee communities, including through the provision of “Know Your Rights” training sessions to immigrant teenagers and adults, the distribution of literature detailing rights and responsibilities in accordance with immigration law, and by assisting with other public needs as they arise.
Duke Law Basketball. Duke Law Basketball provides current Duke Law students and alumni with a network of students and alumni who also enjoy playing basketball while simultaneously representing Duke Law externally in a characteristic outside of academics by participating in multiple regional and national law school and graduate school tournaments.
Duke Law Democrats. Duke Law Democrats is an organization of law students interested in democratic issues. Members promote progressive ideals by participating in the political process, exploring democratic issues in the legal profession, and providing a forum for political discussion.
Duke Law Israel Experience. The mission of Duke Law Israel Experience is to plan a trip for Duke Law students to experience Israel and Israeli culture and gain a greater understanding of Israel, the Greater Middle East, and other related issues.
Duke Law Run Club. The mission of the Duke Law Run Club is to provide current Duke Law students with a community of runners while simultaneously representing Duke Law externally outside of academics by participating in runs throughout the Triangle, North Carolina, and nationally.
Duke Law & Technology Society. The Duke Law & Technology Society seeks to create a forum where like-minded students interested in the intersection of law and technology can share their ideas and satisfy their intellectual curiosity through peer (to-peer) instruction. The Society hopes to increase the Duke Law community’s understanding of and interest in legal technologies, which includes looking at both their most promising applications today and the implications these technologies have for the practice of law across all industries. The Society schedules guest speakers and demonstrations of cutting-edge legal tech, creates and organizes instructional resources, and connects its members with Duke alumni through sponsored networking events.
Duke Law Texas Club. The Duke Law Texas Club aims to (1) connect students interested in the Texas legal market with employers, alumni, and fellow students working in the state; (2) provide a social atmosphere to build friendships between Duke Law students heading to Texas; and (3) increase the overall awareness throughout the law school to the Texas market.
Duke Law Veterans. Duke Law Veterans seeks to advocate for a continued positive military and veteran environment at Duke Law, serves as a centralized resource for veteran-specific issues and outreach within the community, creates a connecting link between the larger student veteran organizations and Duke Law, and builds a network of veteran students, their friends, family, and Duke Law graduates to achieve greater personal and professional development within the veteran community.
Fashion Law Society. The mission of the Fashion Law Society is to give Duke law students the opportunity to learn about the developing legal specialization of fashion law. Our goal is to inform students of the unique challenges that face this industry and to explore different career paths relating to fashion law. We want to create a collaborative environment with other societies to promote interdisciplinary events that draw upon labor and employment, government regulations, intellectual property, business, consumer culture and civil rights, and international trade.
Federalist Society. The Duke chapter of the Federalist Society is a group of conservative and libertarian students interested in the current state of legal order. The society was founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to the United States Constitution, and that it is the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be. The society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities. In the past, the group has hosted distinguished judges and other speakers and has sponsored debates between members of the academic community. Membership is open to interested students.
First Generation Professionals. First Generation Professionals is an enhancement program at Duke Law School for students who are the first in their families to attend a professional school. The organization’s goal is to address the transition and integration of first generation law students into Duke Law School by offering a welcoming community for members as well as academic, professional, and social support to navigate law school and future careers.
Government and Public Service Society. The Government and Public Service (GPS) Society is a group for students interested in pursuing careers in public interest or public service. The group sponsors social events for like-minded law students and helps organize an annual speaker series featuring attorneys who work in public interest and public service and helps plan the annual public interest retreat.
Graduate and Professional Student Council. The Duke University Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) advocates for students pursuing advanced degrees in all of the graduate and professional schools, serving as an umbrella organization for local student governments and student groups. GPSC programming aims to foster social cohesiveness and promote increased interaction across departments and schools. In addition, GPSC oversees election of the Graduate and Professional Young Trustee, appointment to the Board of Trustees standing committees, and selection of representatives to many university committees. The General Assembly’s bimonthly meetings are open to all.
Health Law Society. The Health Law Society is an interdisciplinary organization of students and faculty with interests in exploring professional and academic aspects of health care. The society focuses on the following general areas: curricular expansion and integration, public service and education, and professional development. HLS draws on the surrounding academic community to bring educational events to Duke Law School and to draw on other diverse resources available within its membership to build the understanding of health care issues within the law school.
Human Rights Law Society. The Human Rights Law Society works to achieve three major objectives. First, they provide a forum for students interested in human rights to share their ideas and work together to put on events and initiatives. Second, they serve the law school and the larger Duke community by providing information and discussion about human rights. Lastly, they work to make careers in human rights law a feasible option for more law students by developing connections with human rights organizations and building networks among Duke graduates.
Innocence Project. The Duke Law Innocence Project® is a volunteer student organization that works to exonerate victims of wrongful convictions by investigating claims of actual innocence. After completing a careful review according to set criteria and guidelines, the various student teams present their conclusion to the Project leadership and faculty advisors. The Duke Law Innocence Project looks at wrongful convictions not only on an individual case-by-case basis, but also engages in policy reforms, and outreach to the community in education. The Project also helps its exonerees in their reintegration to society.
International Law Society. The International Law Society (ILS) facilitates involvement in and awareness of a wide set of international legal issues by organizing thematic conferences, student presentations and debates, language tables, informal gatherings for the international law community at Duke, and by bringing in a variety of guest speakers. Past ILS events have included presentations by foreign LLM students on issues affecting their home countries, a conference on the legal and humanitarian precedent set by the US intervention in Afghanistan, film screenings, panels with professors, and trips to international law conferences. Members of the ILS recently have given outstanding performances in moot court competitions dealing with international law, such as the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and the WTO Moot Court Competition.
J. Reuben Clark Society. This organization is based on its members’ desire to affirm the strength brought to the law by a lawyer’s personal religious conviction. It strives through public service and professional excellence to promote fairness and virtue founded upon the rule of law. The organization also represents the contingent of Latter-day Saint law students at Duke Law School, but is open to all students.
Jewish Law Students Association. The Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA) is an organization of students and faculty, primarily from Duke Law School but including many non-law students, who share an interest in Judaism and Judaism-related issues. JLSA offers a variety of social events, such as a Hanukkah party, wine tastings, and bagel brunches. JLSA also offers educational events, such as “lunch and learns” with local rabbis, and lectures, seminars, and religious programming, such as the Graduate Student Shabbat, Break-fast, and Passover Seder.
Latin American Law Students Association. The mission/purpose of Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA) is to aid new students in making the transition into law school, to encourage prospective Hispanic and Latino students to come to Duke, and to connect current students with alumni. By hosting various events, LALSA brings together students and professionals to discuss the issues faced by Hispanic lawyers, the responsibilities of a Hispanic lawyer in society, the need for positive role models in Hispanic communities, and the availability of inexpensive/free legal aid. These discussions are usually intermingled with social activities where Hispanic and other law students can experience the richness of Hispanic culture. Aside from its role in the law school, LALSA maintains ties with the wider Duke community through collaborations with the Duke University Hispanic Latino Alumni Association (DUHLAA) and the undergraduate group Mi Gente, which sponsors salsa parties and other social events celebrating Hispanic culture. LALSA endeavors to enhance Duke Law School’s environment by sharing the richness of Hispanic culture with the school.
Law & Economics Society. The Duke Law & Economics Society provides a forum for Duke Law students interested in the academic field of law and economics. We aim to further the Duke Law community experience by exposing students to emerging research in the field and by fostering discussion and thought about the interesting ways in which the fields of law and economics interact.
Law & Entrepreneurship Society. The Law & Entrepreneurship Society brings together Duke Law students hoping to start and manage their own businesses upon graduation, those aiming to provide legal advice to entrepreneurs in their future careers, and those interested in the topics of emerging growth companies and venture capital more generally. The group sponsors speaker events and networking opportunities throughout the school year, connects current students with Duke alumni working in start-ups and venture capital, and last year pioneered a Transactional Law Competition-a mock trial type competition for aspiring transactional lawyers.
Law Students for Accessibility. Law Students for Accessibility works to create a more inclusive legal community for students whose needs create unique challenges at law school and in the legal community. These include: students with disabilities (mental, physical, and emotional), students with children, students who are breastfeeding, trans*, gender-nonconforming, and LGBTQ+ identified students, and students who practice various religions.
Middle East and North African Law Students Association. The Middle East and North African Law Students Association (MENALSA) strives to promote an understanding of Middle East and North African (MENA) social, legal, and professional issues. The organization seeks to expand MENA representation and develop MENA leadership in the legal community. MENALSA works toward these goals by organizing educational and cultural events.
Mock Trial Board. The Mock Trial Board is a student-run organization that seeks to promote the engagement of students in mock trial competitions at both the intra- and interscholastic levels and, in doing so, to promote the practical development of aspiring lawyers at Duke Law School. The Mock Trial Board hosts the intrascholastic Duke Mock Trial Tournament (Twiggs Beskind Cup) and sends teams to compete in interscholastic competitions, such as the American Trial Lawyers Association Competition and the National Trial Competition.
Moot Court Board. The Moot Court Board is composed of second- and third-year students who represent the highest level of oral and appellate advocacy at Duke Law School. Members are selected from the top finishers in intramural moot court competitions and represent Duke at interscholastic tournaments around the country. Board members also direct the annual Hardt Cup and Dean’s Cup intramural competitions.
Muslim Law Students Association. The mission of the Muslim Law Students Association is to raise awareness of contemporary problems related to the intersection of Muslim-American identities and the American legal system and to provide community-building and networking opportunities for Muslim law students at Duke University School of Law.
National Lawyers Guild. The National Lawyers Guild is an association dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system. It seeks to unite the lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers of America in an organization that shall function as an effective political and social force in the service of the people. Guild members effectively network and hone their legal skills in order to help create change at the local, regional, national, and international levels. The National Lawyers Guild’s aim is to bring together all those who recognize the importance of safeguarding and extending the rights of workers, women, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities and people of color, upon whom the welfare of the entire nation depends; who seek actively to eliminate racism; who work to maintain and protect our civil rights and liberties in the face of persistent attacks upon them; and who look upon the law as an instrument for the protection of the people, rather than for their repression. The Duke chapter seeks to build community on the Duke campus, create opportunities for networking between progressive and radical law students and lawyers, and champion progressive and radical causes at Duke, in Durham, and beyond.
National Security Law Society. National Security Law Society is a nonpartisan organization with three chief goals: exploring careers and opportunities in national security law; discussing matters in the field in forums led by professional experts and by fellow students; and promoting the involvement of Duke Law students in national security law, chiefly by facilitating summer internships and building an alumni network of graduates working in the field.
Off the Record A Capella. Off the Record, the premier co-ed a cappella group at Duke University School of Law, strives to provide a musical outlet for talented Duke Law students, promote a cheerful school environment with entertaining performances, and embody the ideals of Duke Law beyond the school’s academic excellence. Our members share great pride in our commitment to each other, in every harmony we create, and in the community for which we sing.
OutLaw. OutLaw is the student group dedicated to serving the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer and Ally student community at Duke University School of Law. OutLaw’s goal is to both educate and become involved with the law school and surrounding community regarding legal and social issues relevant to LGBT/Q people, as well as to provide a fun and comfortable social network for LGBT/Q students at Duke. The organization features over 25 different programs annually, and works with other Duke LGBT/Q student groups to increase visibility on campus.
Public Interest Law Foundation. The Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) is a student-run organization at Duke Law School that is dedicated to helping students finance their summer public interest legal internships and bar exam costs for graduating students embarking on public interest careers. PILF carries out its mission by sponsoring various fundraising events throughout the year and then distributing the proceeds as summer fellowships to both first- and second-year law students or bar grants to graduating students.
Semester Break Legal Service Trips. Each year, Duke Law students have the opportunity to travel to a variety of communities around the nation, including New Orleans, Atlanta, Miami, and rural North Carolina, and partner with local organizations to assist in providing pro bono legal services to underserved and underrepresented individuals.
The SJD Association. The SJD Association aims to represent the interests of the Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) students and candidates at Duke Law School. We also welcome participation from students who are interested in pursuing careers in academia.
South Asian Law Students Association. The South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA) is committed to being a forum for interaction through social and cultural events relating to South Asian Americans. SALSA works closely with Duke Diya, one of the university’s largest student organizations, composed of hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students. SALSA also serves as a network and resource for its members to advance their academic and career goals. SALSA accomplishes this by offering advice and resources on classes and exams, sharing knowledge about summer positions, and providing practicing attorneys and law clerks as mentors. SALSA is open to all law students and encourages anyone interested in South Asian culture to join.
Sports & Entertainment Law Society. The Duke Sports & Entertainment Law Society (SELS) is an entirely student run organization dedicated to exploring the legal issues and career opportunities available in the area of sports and entertainment law. By expanding access to sports and entertainment law, the organization’s goal is to give interested students the opportunity to pursue this exciting, but also extremely competitive, area of legal practice. The organization is devoted to providing students the necessary resources, guidance, and contacts that will fully prepare them to engage in contemporary legal topics and further pursue these interests in a future professional career. In pursuit of these goals, the society hosts speakers and symposia on hot topics in the field, organizes trips and social events focused on sports and entertainment, and provides academic and professional guidance to students. In addition to hosting events, SELS also partners with organizations such as the Intellectual Property Society, Fuqua’s Sports and Entertainment Business Association, and the Duke Law and Technology Review to further expand the possibilities to engage in activities relevant to sports and entertainment.
Street Law. Duke Law School’s Street Law pro bono program is part of a nationwide Street Law program through which law students provide practical, participatory education about law, democracy, and human rights by teaching secondary school students about the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Through the Durham Youth Home Street Law Project, Duke law students work with juveniles in juvenile detention, to teach them about the criminal justice system, children’s rights, the political system and democracy.
Transactional Law Competition Board. The Transactional Law Competition Board is an entirely student-managed organization established to encourage the development of negotiation and transactional document drafting as skills among law students. The Board sponsors an annual Mock Deal Competition open to all JD and LLM students. There, teams of two or three complete a mini-transaction by marking up deal documents and negotiating terms against an opposing team. The competition is judged by esteemed practitioners from all over the country, and the type of transaction will rotate each year exposing students to new and different kinds of deals. The annual competition is used to choose new board members, who will be able participate in national and regional transactional law related competitions.
Veterans Assistance Project. Started in 2006, the Veterans Assistance Project helps local veterans receive the benefits they deserve. In 2015 the project underwent a name change to better suit the expanded focus of the project. The Veterans Assistance Project’s expanded focus includes: Military Sexual Trauma—assisting veterans who were victims of sexual harassment or assault while in the military, ensuring provision of appropriate care and services; Expunctions—assisting veterans with the expunction of petty crimes or arrests from their record, thus removing a barrier to employment, housing and other benefits; Discharge upgrades—assisting veterans in upgrading their discharge status where it is inequitable or improper, removing a key barrier to the provision of VA benefits; and Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Advocacy where students engage in advocacy at the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the court with jurisdiction over final decisions from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals on a range of issues. Students undergo extensive training in all areas of the project. Under the supervision of a volunteer attorney accredited by the Veteran’s Administration, students participate in client intake, file review, records requests and trial preparation. The VAP pro bono project also participates in community veteran events and holds fundraisers for groups that assist injured and under-resourced military veterans. This group allows students to both hone their legal skills and help those who have served our country.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. Through work with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), students provide pro bono services to clients in the Durham community, filing tax returns for low-income and minority taxpayers so that they may receive the largest refund available to them without undergoing the cost of using a paid preparer.
Women Law Students Association. The mission of the Women Law Students Association (WLSA) is to help women thrive in our law school and to ease the transition between the academic and the work environments. WLSA strives to create a community that will raise awareness of women’s issues and move toward the betterment of women in the legal profession. We also seek to provide a forum for students to enhance their Duke University School of Law experience. All law students, male and female, may join WLSA. Additionally, our events are open to the entire Duke community.