Family Life and Law School

Duke is a great place to attend law school if you have a family.  The law school is family-friendly, for example, PALS has a small room in the law school that includes a computer, a portable crib, and a changing table.  A couch and refrigerator will also be added soon.  PALS also has a discussion group email address through which members communicate on meetings and day-to-day type activities, such as referrals to pediatricians and daycare providers.  To be added to the list serve, simply visit


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Trying to Beat the Heat

It won’t be long until cooler weather arrives, but it can still be too hot to have fun with the little ones outside.   Here are just a few ideas for cheap, easy, and cool activities.

Story Time at Public Libraries – We have only visited the Southwest Regional Library, but Story Time with Miss Margaret is one of the highlights of our week.  For more info visit their kids website at

Southpoint Mall – ( Most people know that there is a little kids play area outside of JCPenny.  It is often crowded in the middle of the day, but if you go early or after 3 pm the crowd is slimmer.  There’s also a train table upstairs at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore.  Both Barnes and Noble and Pottery Barn Kids have free story times and kids activities that are advertised in store, so stop in and see what might be coming up soon.

Bean Traders Coffee Shop – (249 W Nc Highway 54, Durham, NC 27713-2491) Bean Traders has very good coffee, but more importantly they have a “play area” sparsely furnished for your child’s entertainment.  Full disclosure: the kids area is about as clean as a McDonalds/Chick-Fil-A play area, so don’t bring them in their Sunday best.  I would also pack a coloring book or some small toys if you like to linger while you drink your coffee.  They offer crafts and story times, but we’ve never made it to one.  I’d love to hear from someone who has!

The Stir Crazy Moms Guide to Durham ( has profiled all the indoor play areas within 50 miles, and is a good resource for all kinds of kid-related info.

I hope this helps you beat the heat!  If you have ideas to share, please comment below.


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Elmo’s Diner, Durham

Elmo's Biscuits and Gravy

Elmo's Biscuits and Gravy

As a parent attending law school, there’s nothing more important to me than being able to take time away from school to hang out with my wife and daughter.  And what better way to spend time together, than eating a great meal and a family friendly environment.  And if you can do it on a student loan budget, it’s even better.


We’ve been going to Elmo’s Diner in Durham almost since day one.  Located on 9th St., it’s easily accessible and their hours make even an early morning breakfast with the family possible during an otherwise library or journal room filled week.  The staff are super friendly and have grown to know my daughter and welcome her every time we visit.  The portions are large, the coffee flows bountifully and there’s almost never a wait during the week.  (On the weekends you’ll want to come early as wait times during the “morning rush” can be over thirty minutes.)  We usually try to go once every other week and their “Bargain Breakfast” egg deal or biscuits and gravy help make that possible.

Egg Deal –

Two eggs any style with bacon, served with your choice of bread and one breakfast side…$5.65

Biscuit and Gravy Deal –

Two eggs any style with bacon and one breakfast side, served with a homemade biscuit topped with sausage gravy…$6.65

Elmo's Shrimp and Grits

Elmo's Shrimp and Grits


If you feel like splurging, make sure you try their shrimp and grits, which is always a home run.  So if you’re looking for a casual place that won’t break the bank but will make you feel like family every time you go, Elmo’s is a great choice!

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Kidcycle – Discount Kids’ Clothes, Toys, etc.

Twice a year, Kidcycle puts on a consignment sale at University Mall in Chapel Hill for kids’ clothes, toys, books, cribs, strollers, etc. The most recent one has almost ended, but they are having a “Dollar Day” on Saturday, August 20th. The next sale is in March. My understanding is that if you volunteer to work the sale you get first access to the merchandise and other discounts from the already low prices. We have been twice now and have gotten some really great deals. Check it out at

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Durham Mothers Club

Duke PALS members may be interested in joining the Durham Mothers Club.  Yearly dues are $15 and once your membership is approved, you are given access to email groups discussing a range of topics. Members share information on babysitters, preschools, Parents Morning Out groups, yard sales etc.  There are also playgroups arranged by neighborhood and a welcome event for new members.  I know for example that the first weekend of June, there is a picnic planned at the Eno River Park.  To apply to the group go to:

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Local Schools


For general information about the local public schools, contact:

Durham Public Schools:   (919) 560-2000
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public Schools:  (919) 967-8211

There are also many private schools available, both nonsecular and religious.  Some of the more familiar names include:

Duke School for Children: (919) 286-1811 (lower school), (919) 493-2612 (middle school)
Durham Academy: (919) 489-6569 (upper school), (919) 489-9118 (lower school)
Carolina Friends School: (919) 383-6602
St. Thomas More Catholic Church: (919) 929-1546 (elementary), (919) 929-2241 (middle)
Montessori Children’s House of Durham: (919) 489-9045


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Places to Live

Places to live

Law students with children live in Durham and Chapel Hill.  Durham has a very reasonable rental market.  Areas that have been appreciated by families include the Trinity Park area near East Campus towards downtown Durham, and neighborhoods off of Hope Valley Road in southwest Durham such as the Woodcroft subdivision.

Durham Housing

Some parents with older children live in Chapel Hill in order to take advantage of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro public schools, the highest ranked system in North Carolina.

The Raleigh News & Observer has a good online edition that includes classified ads, called the Chapel Hill News & Advocate.  The Advocate includes ads for Durham housing, but tends to focus more on Chapel Hill.

The Durham paper is the Durham Herald-Sun.  The Herald-Sun classifieds are online at

The Duke off-campus housing office has information on available housing as well.  This office does not provide assistance over the phone; you must visit their office at 217 Anderson Street to go through the submitted ads.  Their published hours of operation are 8:30 to 5:00, and their phone number is (919) 684-5832.  Directions:  Take a right on Erwin Road from the law school.  After you pass the hospital and cross the railroad tracks, Anderson Road is the second traffic light. Turn right on Anderson; the housing office will be immediately on your left, and you can park in front of the building.  If you hit Main Street, you went too far.

For those interested in purchasing a home, please contact the list serve for recommendations on great real estate agents.

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