Duke Law School’s two-year-old Center for Judicial Studies has received a $5 million boost to support its research and activities. 

The donation is from the Duke Endowment — a private foundation formed in 1924 by the university’s namesake, industrialist James Duke.

The center aims to improve the quality of the judiciary by offering education to judges and developing a better understanding of judicial institutions. The center opened to plenty of buzz in 2011, due largely to its launch of the first master’s of laws program specifically for sitting judges. The school has since enrolled 17 judges from the United States and overseas who are now in their second summer of the two-summer program.

In addition to educating judges, the center has researched judicial decision-making and courts and has hosted conferences. The center will expand to offer J.D. students the opportunity to work as research assistants for the judges in the master’s program. The judges are writing theses, some of which will likely be published. The center will also support graduate fellows and other visiting scholars in their research.

"Ultimately, our aim is to protect and improve our judicial institutions through strengthening the education of individual judges and by qualitatively improving collective knowledge and judicial decision-making and judicial institutions," said dean David Levi, a former U.S. district judge. "Judges participating as students will become more capable; J.D. students as research assistants will become more knowledgeable about judicial institutions, processes and law reform; research into judicial studies by scholars will be of higher quality, greater relevancy and accuracy; and the legal profession will be better coordinated in its efforts to improve the law."

Contact Karen Sloan at ksloan@alm.com.