Friday, April 1, 2011

Duke University School of Law

The Cathedral
Note: click on any picture to enlarge.
Location: Durham, NC
U.S. News and World Report Rank: 11

I cannot review Duke Law the way I did with Virginia. I toured Duke during the weekend and didn't speak with anyone at the law school or the main university (in other words, this will be short). Regardless, I did get an overall impression that was not what I anticipated.
Inside the Cathedral
Duke's main campus reminded me of the European universities I've visited (mainly Oxford and Cambridge). The architecture was simply stunning.

In case you didn't notice: there's a Cathedral
There was a distinct feeling of pride on campus (could have been due to the fact that they hadn't lost in the NCAA tournament yet?). Maybe it's difficult to not let all that gothic architecture go to your head, who knows.

The City of Durham was nice. It was large enough to provide thorough entertainment, but small enough to not feel smoggy and gross (a la Los Angeles–no offense).

The Law School
The Law School itself was quite small. Since they have an extremely small student body (a really good thing), this was to be expected, but I was still a little surprised at how small the law building was. To be frank, I didn't like the lay-out of the law school building. It felt cramped and confined. Something like a super small (but also swanky) community college.
The main entrance
Common area

Large classroom
Small class room

Library reading room
However, the overall bad vibe of the building is probably nullified by its greatest strength: natural light. Duke seems to have gone above and beyond the typical call of duty for a law school to provide its students with natural light. As you can see from the pictures, there really isn't a place in the school that doesn't have it (even the library reading room!). So, if you thought I didn't like the building, ignore that  last paragraph and read this one instead. Natural light is Duke's savior.

The impression I got from the students is that they take their studies seriously. Duke is a big feeder school for corporate law and that feeling pervaded the school. The students I saw seemed very professional and attentive.

Ultimately, Duke is a great school. "The Harvard of the South," as it's called, lived up to (and significantly exceeded) my expectations. Duke's employment statistics are off the charts and they've got great lay prestige (basketball?). If I get off the wait-list, they will be on my list to consider.

Let's talk about lay prestige (I talked about this a little bit in my post about Virginia, but here's more). "Lay prestige" refers to how much respect a law school gets from people who aren't part of the legal profession. Basically, most folks looking at law schools shouldn't care about lay prestige. Though it is nice to wow your seat mate in an airplane with where you're attending law school, it's not going to get you a better job or make your life better (unless your quality of life is determined by how much people who don't know anything about your profession respect your law school). Of course, if you're interested in running for public office, you might want to consider taking lay prestige into account. Since, I'm interested in running for public office in the PNW, I need to think about how voters are going to view my academic career. Mostly, I think voters don't like attorneys and that's the bottom line. Oh well.

Also, the gardens that adjoin campus are maybe Duke's greatest selling point.

1 comment:

  1. That campus is indeed beautiful! Reminds me of my week at Oxford. You should consider a part-time job as a National Geographic photographer. Perhaps too much presige could spoil your image as a grassroots leader -- what do you think? Can't wait to see more pics -- love it!