Amendment Clinic

First Amendment Clinic

The public mission of the First Amendment Clinic at Duke Law is to protect and advance the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and petition. The Clinic advises and represents individuals and groups with First Amendment concerns or claims who cannot afford the assistance of lawyers with specialized First Amendment expertise. The Clinic also provides commentary and legal analysis on pending or enacted legislation that implicates First Amendment freedoms, and other governmental as well as academic developments.

The First Amendment Clinic is an integral part of the academic and professional educational program of Duke Law School. Working under the supervision of clinic director Jeff Powell and First Amendment Fellow Nicole Ligon ’16, the Clinic’s students are certified under the rules of the North Carolina State Bar to participate in the professional work of the Clinic. 


How can we help?

Whether you need legal advice, are seeking commentary on current events, or have a question, the First Amendment Clinic can help. Complete our contact form and a representative from the Clinic will follow-up with you shortly.

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Clinic Director, H. Jefferson Powell

Jefferson PowellJeff Powell is a long-standing member of the Duke Law faculty who teaches courses on constitutional law and the law of defamation. Powell was special counsel to the North Carolina Attorney General in 1991-93, and served from 1993-2000, and again in 2011 and 2012, in the United States Department of Justice. Among his books is No Law: Intellectual Property in the Image of an Absolute First Amendment (2009), co-authored with Duke Professor David Lange. Powell is a member of the North Carolina bar and responsible for supervising the work of the Clinic.

Clinic Supervising Attorney, Nicole Ligon '16

Nicole LigonNicole Ligon, a 2016 Duke Law graduate, is the clinic’s inaugural First Amendment Fellow. She has returned to Duke after practicing First Amendment litigation at Cahill Gordon & Reindel in New York where she worked on First Amendment and media law matters regarding reporter’s privilege, media’s right of access, defamation, commercial speech regulations, and related issues. Ligon will provide day-to-day oversight of students’ casework on behalf of clients who claim infringements of their free speech rights.


First Amendment Clinic Course

The clinic develops counseling, litigation, and legal commentary skills in the context of working on actual cases and issues involving the First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, assembly and petition. Students advise and represent individuals and groups with First Amendment concerns or claims who cannot afford the assistance of lawyers with specialized First Amendment expertise.

Enrollment Prerequisite
  • Either First Amendment or Dignitary Torts is a prerequisite/corequisite.
Learning Outcomes
  • Exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system
  • Other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession

Read about the course





Funding for the First Amendment Clinic is provided by the Stanton Foundation which serves to complete the philanthropic agenda of Frank Stanton in supporting the First Amendment and creating a more informed citizenry.