The School of Law is continuing to add to the strength and variety of its joint degree program.
More than 25 percent of Duke law students currently pursue a joint degree in addition to their degree in law. By enrolling in the program, students can enjoy the benefits of two degrees in about half the time, since traditional programs require students to enroll in two separate programs, said Stevie Pearl, a student in the law and history joint graduate degree program.
The most recent program to be added is a law degree and masters of laws in the law and entrepreneurship program, which took its first round of students this summer. All programs, however, have seen various stages of growth and evolution.
“Adding the law and entrepreneurial program made sense due to general trends in the legal profession and general economy, as well as to specific strengths at Duke,” said Mark Hill, director of admissions at the School of Law.
The selection of secondary degrees in the program vary widely and include such fields as business, medicine and numerous doctoral degrees, and allows students to still graduate in a short timespan.
“It’s nice to be able to graduate with your own class,” Pearl said. “The program at Duke lets you graduate in three years with two degrees. This isn’t offered at any other universities I was looking at. Instead, those universities focus on JDs and other graduate degrees as two separate programs, with separate time commitments.”
Despite the tough work load, many students find the joint degree program very enriching, helping them incorporate their backgrounds and interests into law, wrote Michael Herrera, a student currently enrolled in the Law and Entrepreneurship program, in an email last Tuesday.
“I come from a family of businessmen and businesswomen and entrepreneurs,” Herrera said. “With this emersion into the business culture that I’ve experienced my entire life, entering into the corporate and entrepreneurial law world was a logical step in the pursuance of my legal education.”
James Waters, a student pursuing a law degree and master of laws in International and Comparative Law, learned the importance of business globalization while working in Nicaragua for the National Commission of Free Trade Zones the year before entering law school.
“Pretty soon, you won’t be able to touch a major contract without dealing with some component of international law,” Waters said. “That’s why I decided to enroll in Duke’s JD/LLM program.”
Herrera noted that the joint degree program allows students to utilize the resources available at Duke through both the faculty on campus as well as the alumni network.
“Duke has a wealth of shared experiences, from classmates who have owned companies to those who have worked on large scale audits of Fortune 500 companies,” Herrera said.
The joint degree program also provides flexibility, continuously adding and maintaining programs based on student demand.
“The numbers of students interested in pairing a JD with another degree simply vary from year to year,” said Frances Presma, associate director of communications at the School of Law.