Duke Law Journal

The History of Duke Law Journal


The first issue of what was to become the Duke Law Journal was published in March 1951 as the Duke Bar Journal. Created to provide a medium for student expression, the Duke Bar Journal consisted entirely of student-written and student-edited work until 1953, when it began publishing faculty contributions. To reflect the inclusion of faculty scholarship, the Duke Bar Journal became the Duke Law Journal in 1957. In 1969, the Journal published its inaugural Administrative Law Symposium issue, a tradition that continues today.

Volume 1 of the Duke Bar Journal spanned two issues and 259 pages. In 1959, the Journal grew to four issues and 649 pages, growing again in 1970 to six issues and 1263 pages. Today, the Duke Law Journal publishes eight issues per volume. Our staff is committed to the purpose set forth in our constitution: to publish legal writing of superior quality. We seek to publish a collection of outstanding scholarship from established legal writers, up-and-coming authors, and our own student editors.

Journal Life

Serving as an editor on the Duke Law Journal can be an extremely valuable part of your legal education. The Journal is recognized as one of the nation’s top law reviews and its members benefit from the analytical and writing skills they develop through the Journal experience. Although Journal membership is a valued credential for legal practice, obtaining a clerkship, or securing a faculty position, editors gain much more: the satisfaction of having made significant contributions to important legal scholarship, the opportunity to publish their own work, and the experience of working closely with fellow students to produce eight issues each academic year.

As a staff editor, you will screen, cite check, and edit a broad range of legal scholarship, as well as contribute to the published notes of fellow student editors. As a member of the Journal’s Executive Committee, you can actively participate in the selection of manuscripts for publication.

Third-year editors have the opportunity to publish their own scholarship in the Journal. The Journal is committed to publishing a large number of student-written pieces each year.



There are two ways to become a member of the Duke Law Journal, (1) the first-year Casenote competition, and (2) the second-year Note-on Program. Joint degree candidates are only eligible to participate in the Casenote Competition immediately following their first year of legal studies. Depending on when they arrive at Duke, transfer students may be eligible to participate in the Casenote Competition or the Note-on Program, and should contact the Journal or the Admissions Office for specific details.


First-Year Competition



Second-Year Competitions



First-Year Casenote Competition

Each year the Journal extends offers to approximately 39-47 rising second-year students, all of whom must have participated in the school-wide Casenote Competition to be eligible to receive an invitation to join. One-third of the offers we extend are based on grades alone, one-third are based on the students’ score in the Casenote Competition, and one third are based on a combination of the students’ casenote score, grade point average, and a 500 word personal statement, equally weighted. Journal staff members score casenote submissions, but the entire process is anonymous and refereed by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Publications Office.

The case citation for the annual Casenote Competition is distributed to all first-year students during the Spring term. In coordination with Duke’s other legal publications, we choose an appellate court decision that is recent, multifaceted, and about which little has already been written. Students may write about any aspect of the decision they choose. Although the Casenote Competition is an “open universe” research problem, students will be rewarded more for the strength of their analysis and clarity of writing than for the breadth of their research.

Completed casenotes are submitted online approximately two weeks after the last first-year final exam has been administered. The details of the turn-in process are explained at length in the materials accompanying the case citation. The Journal encourages all first-year students to participate in the Casenote Competition.

Second-Year Note-On Program

The Note-on Program is an opportunity for any second-year student at Duke Law School to become a member of the Duke Law Journal and to have his or her academic writing published in the Journal. There is no minimum or maximum number of students who will be invited onto the Journal through the Note-on program each year–the number will depend solely on the quality of submissions received. Submissions will be judged anonymously by the Note Selection Committee of the Journal’s Executive Committee. Students accepted onto the Journal through the Note-on Program will work for the Journalas Staff Editors for one semester, and will then serve as members of the Editorial Board following elections in the spring.

Students may write on any topic, provided the Note is thirty (30) to forty-five (45) pages in length, double-spaced, using twelve point font for both text and footnotes. There is no required format, but students are encouraged to review Notes in the Duke Law Journal for examples of substance and style. No submission will be selected if it fails to meet the Journal’s high standard of “clearly publishable quality.” The Note must not be preempted by any earlier piece in a legal publication, and the amount of editorial work required to prepare it for publication must be minimal.

Students may receive academic credit for their Notes if they write under the guidance of a faculty advisor and file the appropriate independent study paperwork with the Registrar. Students may also submit works originally submitted as seminar papers, but under the Honor Code they may not seek additional independent study credit for these papers. Although seminar papers provide a sensible beginning point for Notes, students are encouraged to revise their work to ensure that they are making a novel contribution to the substantive literature, and complying with the length requirements described above.

Additional information about the Note-on Program will be distributed to second-year students by the Journal’s Senior Note Editor each spring.

Second-Year Note-On Program

Second-Year Online Essay Competition

Volume 74 is currently hosting DLJ‘s third online essay competition! The competition is open to all current Duke Law 2Ls who are not on an exclusive journal. Up to two winning submissions will be selected for publication in the DLJ Online in Fall 2024. Author(s) of the winning submission(s) also receive membership to DLJ as Research Editor(s) and a cash prize. 

For more information, visit the Online Essay Competition page.