We often get questions about “Pre-Law” at Duke. Our response depends on the thrust of the question. If the question refers to a pre-law “program” then there is no such thing at Duke. If the question is about process, then that is a different matter. For being “Pre-law” at Duke means being involved in a process of self –discovery, defining life goals, determining life style, and developing a strategy for realizing these goals.
Included in the process is gaining knowledge of what law school and the practice of law are really like. This involves some demythologizing –many of our impressions of what lawyers are and do were formed by Perry Mason, LA Law, Law and Order, and The Practice. Through exploration and through programs offered at Duke, a more realistic vision of who and what lawyers actually are can be gained. For example, oratorical skills are great if a person wants to be a litigator but research, negotiating, and mediation skills are far more important for most lawyers.
It is our hope that the contents of this handbook will get you started on this process of self- discovery and gaining knowledge of what the legal profession is all about.
In addition to this booklet there are two further opportunities to aid you in this process. First the The Office of Pre-Law Advising sponsors programs and distributes information to all students considering careers in law. Underclassmen who have specific questions that are not covered by this booklet or by other resources may meet with the Pre-Law Advisor during walk- in hours posted early in the semester. The other opportunity to learn about law school and the law is provided by Bench and Bar.
Bench and Bar
Bench and Bar is the undergraduate society at Duke for those considering law as a profession. Membership is open to all students, and underclassmen are especially encouraged to join. The society sponsors a variety of programs throughout the year involving law school admission officers, law school faculty and practicing lawyers. Topics like “Applying to Law School,”) “Mock Admission Panels” and “The Practice of Law” are featured at these meetings.
Specific information about membership and program is available through the The Office of Pre-Law Advising, 04 Allen Building, 919-684-2865, or the bench and Bar web-site.
Special words of thanks should go to the non-Duke contributors to this handbook who gave us permission to use their articles originally published elsewhere and to Mekisha Mebane and Terry Wilkerson, Assistants in the The Office of Pre-Law Advising for their work, patience and helpfulness in preparing this project.
Gerald L. Wilson, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Dean/Pre-Law Advisor
President, SAPLA (Southern Association of Pre-Law Advisors) 1983-84
Chair, PLANC (Pre-Law Advisors National Council) 1984-1989
Designated Member, PLANC (Pre-Law Advisors National Council) 1984-
At Large Member, Board of Directors,
NAPLA (Northeastern Association of Prelaw Advisors, Inc.) 1996-2000, 2001-2006, 2008-2012