Conference registration opens for Duke’s 28th Annual National Security Law Conference!

I’m pleased to announce that registration is now open for Duke’s 28th Annual National Security Law Conference presented by Duke Law’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security (LENS)Because seats are very limited, please register ASAP on the registration portal found here.  The Conference is for anyone interested in national security matters, not just lawyers and law students..

What you will experience…

There’s lots of variety in the ‘ripped-from the-headlines’ topics the conference’s world-class speakers will be addressing.  I think you’ll agree if you check out the agenda found here.

An “Early Arrival” session co-sponsored with Duke Law’s National Security Law Society will take place on Thursday, February 23 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in Room 3041 at Duke Law.  Practitioners from the military, government, private industry, and ‘big law’ will discuss “Careers in National Security Law.”  They’ll explain to students, young attorneys, and others how national security law can be involved in a number of different practice venues. (Conference registration for this event is not required).

On Friday morning, the LENS Conference officially begins with Professor Nita Farahany’s keynote entitled, “The Battle for Your Brain: Neurotechnology and National Security.”  You should expect a presentation that gives new meaning to the term ‘eye-opening’.  She’ll reflect on the national security implications of neurotechnology, and share insights from her new book, “The Battle for Your Brain:Defending the Right to Think Freely in the Age of Neurotechnology.”  (You may also have a chance to purchase a copy of her book that she’ll autograph.)

It won’t come as a surprise to readers that we’ll have a panel of top experts addressing The Russo-Ukraine Conflict and the Law of War.”  You’ll hear from such renowned scholars as professors Geoff Corn, Laurie Blank, and Rob Lawless in a discussion moderated by retired Army judge advocate (and legendary law of armed conflict authority!) Colonel Dave Graham.

In a separate but related presentation, National Defense University Professor Adam Oler (a LENS favorite!) will discuss the hot topic of “International Criminal Justice.”

Former conference attendees will be very pleased to learn that the ever-popular Dean Cheng will return as our speaker for our ‘working lunch’ as he will bring us to date about key issues with China.  I‘m also really glad to tell you that RADM Melissa Bert, the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Coast Guard, will return to speak to us about “National Security Challenges in the Arctic.”

Yes, national security law concerns the private sector!

This year we especially want to highlight how national security law matters can impact not just the government and the military, but also the private sector.  That effort begins with the early arrival “Careers in National Security Law” session we’ve discussed, and will continue on Friday afternoon with a panel entitled, “Corporations and National Security: Is the Private Sector the New Battleground?”.

Moderated by Duke Law’s much-admired Professor Elisabeth De Fontenay, the discussion will kick off with an overview by Temple Law professor Tom Lin (author of a fascinating new law review article, Business Warfare).

Joining the discussion will be: Ms. Caroline E. Brown, who is a Partner at Crowell & Moring (and Duke undergrad alumnus!), and Duke Law grads Mr. Robert J. Denault (Class of 2021) an Associate at Gibson Dunn, and Mr. Hensey Fenton III, (Class of 2019) an Associate at Covington & Burling.

And there’s more!  In separate presentations Professor Lee Reiners will talk to us about “The Cryptocurrency Crisis and National Security.”  I’m also particularly pleased that on Saturday morning my renowned colleague Professor Arti Rai will join us to discuss “Intellectual Property and National Security” – a topic that to my knowledge we’ve never addressed at the conference.

Also on Saturday, you’ll be treated to a panel discussion “Cybersecurity Policy and National Security: How should the public and private sectors prepare for tomorrow’s threats?”  It will be moderated by LENS own Shane Stansbury and include such experts as Mr. Carl Ghattas, a senior vice president at Booz Allen, and Ms. Kate Nichols, Deputy Regional Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

“Fireside chats” (and more!)

We’re especially excited about our two “fireside chats.”  In the first, Mayer Brown partner Mr. Raj De will have a discussion with former Ambassador to Russia John J. Sullivan, who has just returned to the firm.

In the second, Shane Stansbury will host a “Conversation with FBI General Counsel” Jason A. Jones.”  How can this not be interesting?

What’s more is that, although we technically aren’t captioning it as a ‘fireside chat,’  Shane will also engage in a conversation on the topic of Domestic Terrorism: Where Are We Now, and Where Do We Go From Here?” with Mr. Thomas E. Brzozowski, Counsel for Domestic Terrorism in the Counterterrorism Section of DoJ, and Mr. Michael F. Easley Jr.U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

You’ll hear the operator’s perspective

Every lawyer knows it is vitally important to understand the client’s perspective on a matter under examination.  In the military context the “clients” are often the “operators,” that is, the ‘warfighters’ in common parlance.

Our Saturday keynoter will give you that perspective.  He’s Lt. General (Ret.) Dave Deptula who is now the Dean, Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, the foremost civilian institution studying air and space power.  He’ll draw upon his distinguished military career to talk to us about Airpower, Law and the Warfighter’s Perspective.”  Expect General Deptula to include in his remarks a critique of the Pentagon’s self-styled “Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan.”


The complicated ethical issues that are arising in the 21st century due to the rapid advances in technology are many.  We are fortunate to have Lt Col Tim Goines from the Air Force Academy to give us a presentation on some key challenges when he speaks on “Ethics and the New Technologies of War: AI and Cyber.”

Continuing Legal Education (CLE)

Some of you have asked about CLE.  Here’s the info:

The conference has been approved for a maximum of 12 CLE hours (including one hour of Ethics) by the Pennsylvania Bar (this includes the Early Arrival presentation).  The approval document (with instructions for attorneys) is found here.  The North Carolina Bar has approved a maximum of 11.5 hours of CLE credit (including one hour of Ethics). CLE approvals from PA and/or NC have enabled some attorneys to get credit in other jurisdictions, but we cannot guarantee it.  All attorneys seeking CLE credit will have to sign an attendance roster at the conference. In addition, attorneys will be responsible for submitting their own applications for CLE credit and all expenses associated with CLE for this conference must be borne by the individual attorneys seeking it.

LENS Scholars Program

We’ll be welcoming more than 50 students from 21 institutions around the country (including students from the service academies) who have been selected by their professors as LENS Scholars!


Again, you just need to click here to get the registration portal, or you can scan the QR to the right. (If you have any difficulties registering, please reach out to conference coordinator, Amanda Gonzalez  You’ll see there is a general registration fee of $100 ($75 for active duty military and full-time students other than those attending Duke University). 

Besides a terrific educational experience and networking opportunity, registration includes a light lunch (e.g., arepas) if you attend the Early Arrival Event on Thursday, a continental breakfast on Friday and Saturday mornings, and a box lunch on Friday. 

There is also a by-invitation reception at the Washington Duke Inn on Friday evening from 5:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.  If you’d like to attend the reception, let us know when you register.  We hope to accommodate everyone who wants to go, but because there is a cap on the numbers we can invite, we can’t guarantee it.

Will you help support the conference and LENS activities?

As you might imagine, the registration fee hardly covers the full cost of the conference or, as explained here other LENS efforts to try to help build the next generation of national security leaders.  I hope you will want to be part of the process – and please know that any amount will help!

The easiest way to donate is online through Duke’s secure giving website: 

You can also mail a check to the Duke Law Alumni & Development Office, 210 Science Drive, Box 90389, Durham, NC 27701. Please write LENS on the memo line. If you would like to learn about additional ways you can make an impact on our students and support the LENS Center, please contact Halley House at

Anyway, we hope to see you at the conference, so please register as soon as possible!!!


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