Law Schools

Duke Law's 'Tricky Dick' Musical Signals Shift in Administration's Stance on Nixon


For decades, the Duke University School of Law has downplayed its association with arguably its most notorious graduate: Richard M. Nixon.

However, in a sign that the university is slowly embracing its ties with the embattled president, Duke law students on Friday performed Tricky Dick, a musical imagining an ethically challenged Nixon as he runs for student body president, the New York Times reports. Last year, the play—performed with a different script, fewer cast members and little recognition from the Duke administration—earned positive reviews from attendees, the Times says. This year, the musical stars an ensemble of 50 people, including students, professors and administrators, the paper notes. Duke Law grad Slavik Gabinsky, who helped create the play last year, now works at Allen & Overy, and the firm gave this year’s production a $5,000 donation, according to the Times.

Not too long ago, Duke administrators were apprehensive of publicizing their association with Nixon, who earned a law degree at the school. The scandal-plagued Nixon was not given an honorary Duke degree for speaking at graduation in 1954, when he was vice president, the Times says. And in 1981, faculty members dismissed a proposal to house Nixon’s presidential library and papers, fearing the move would damage the school’s reputation.

“With so much doom and gloom surrounding legal biz these days, and so many questioning the value of law school, it’s good to see some law students have retained their sense of mirth,” the Wall Street Journal Law Blog says in reference to the musical.

Tricky Dick organizers are hoping to make the play an annual event.

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