Bench Press

New judicial programs introduced
August 1, 2011

Duke School of Law is launching a master of laws program in judicial studies geared specifically to judges. The university also is launching a new Center for Judicial Studies, which will support academic research on the judiciary.

The LL.M. program will begin in the summer of 2012. Approximately ten to fifteen sitting judges will participate in intensive four- to six-week sessions over the course of two summers. The curriculum will include classes and seminars in which both judges and scholars look at the history, institutions, and processes that shape the judiciary and affect judicial decision- making. Program directors plan to admit several judges from foreign countries to facilitate comparative study of a variety of judicial systems.

The program will introduce judges to social-science research on the judiciary. Some judges have been dismissive of such research, and bringing judges together with scholars may help to break down tensions between them and researchers, according to law-school officials.

The Center for Judicial Studies, also housed in the law school, will sponsor conferences, publications, and education programs focused on the judiciary. It will promote research into the judiciary and look for ways to improve the functioning of the courts.