(see etymology and abbreviations
) is a
professional doctorate and first professional degree
degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century as a
degree similar to the old European doctor of law degree (such as
the Dottore in Giurisprudenza in Italy and the Juris Utriusque Doctor).
Originating from the 19th century Harvard movement for the
scientific study of law
, it is the only law degree that has a
goal of being the primary professional preparation for lawyers. It
is the only professional degree in law and is a three year program
in most jurisdictions. As with other professional doctorates in the
United States and Canada (M.D.
, D. Min.
etc.), a research dissertation
thesis is not required. This degree primarily exists in the United
States, but since about 1997 it has appeared in universities in
other countries for the first time, although it has a unique form
in each country.
Etymology and abbreviations
In the United States, the degree is conferred in Latin as
or in English as Doctor of
. In academic tradition in the United States,
degrees conferred in Latin generally may be abbreviated in Latin
only, while degrees conferred in English may be abbreviated in
either English or Latin—provided the degree has a Latin equivalent.
Thus, Juris Doctor
may only be abbreviated J.D.
while Doctor of Jurisprudence
may be abbreviated either
Either abbreviation may be
rendered with or without punctuation to meet requirements of
academic style manuals (e.g., the AMA Manual of Style uses no
punctuation for most abbreviations - MD, DO, JD, DJur, PhD,
Origins of the law degree
The foundations of the first universities in Europe were the
of the 11th century, which
were schools of law. The first European university, that of
Bologna, was founded as a school of law by four famous
legal scholars in the 12th century who were students of the
glossator school in that city.
Bologna served as the model for other law schools of the
medieval age. While it was common
for students of law to visit and study at schools in other
countries, such was not the case with England because of the
English rejection of Roman law (except for
certain jurisdictions such as the Admiralty Court) and although the
Oxford and University of Cambridge did teach canon law until
the English Reformation, its
importance was always superior to civil law in those
The history of legal training in England
The nature of the J.D. can be better understood by a review of the
context of the history of legal education in England. The teaching
of law at Oxford University was for philosophical or scholarly
purposes and not meant to prepare one to practice law. Professional
training for practicing common law in England was undertaken at the
Inns of Court
, but over time the
training functions of the Inns lessened considerably and
apprenticeships with individual practitioners arose as the
prominent medium of preparation. However, because of the lack of
standardization of study and of objective standards for appraisal
of these apprenticeships, the role of universities became
subsequently of importance for the education of lawyers in the
English speaking world.
In England in 1292 when Edward I
requested that lawyers be trained, students merely sat in the
courts and observed, but over time the students would hire
professionals to lecture them in their residences, which led to the
institution of the Inns of Court
system. The original method of education at the Inns of Court was a
mix of moot court
-like practice and
lecture, as well as court proceedings observation. By the seventeenth
century, the Inns obtained a status as a kind of university akin to
the University of
Oxford and the University of Cambridge, though very specialized in purpose.
the frequent absence of parties to suits during the Crusades
, the importance of the lawyer role grew
tremendously, and the demand for lawyers grew.
Traditionally Oxford and Cambridge did not see common law as worthy
of study, and included coursework in law only in the context of
canon and civil law and for the purpose of the study of philosophy
or history only. The apprenticeship program for solicitors
thus emerged, structured and governed
by the same rules as the apprenticeship programs for the trades.
The training of solicitors by apprenticeship was formally
established by an act of parliament in 1729. William Blackstone became the first
lecturer in English common law at the University of
Oxford in 1753, but the university did not establish the
program for the purpose of professional study, and the lectures
were very philosophical and theoretical in nature.
Blackstone insisted that the study of law should be university
based, where concentration on foundational principles can be had,
instead of concentration on detail and procedure had through
apprenticeship and the Inns of Court.
The Inns of Court continued but became less effective and admission
to the bar still did not require any significant educational
activity or examination, therefore in 1846 Parliament examined the
education and training of prospective barristers
and found the system to be inferior to
the legal education provided in Europe and the United States.
Therefore, formal schools of law were called for, but not finally
established until later in the century, and even then the bar did
not consider a university degree in admission decisions.
Legal training in colonial North America and 19th century
Initially there was much resistance to lawyers in colonial North
America because of the role they had played in hierarchical
England, but slowly the colonial governments started using the
services of professionals trained in the Inns of Court
in London, and by the end of the
there was a
functional bar in each state. Due to an initial distrust of a
profession open only to the elite in England, as institutions for
training developed in what would become the United States they
emerged as quite different than those in England.
Initially in the United States the legal professionals were trained
and imported from England. A formal apprenticeship or clerkship
program was established first in New York in 1730—at that time a
seven-year clerkship was required, and in 1756 a four-year college
degree was required in addition to five years of clerking and an
examination. Later the requirements were reduced to require only
two years of college education. But a system like the Inns did not
develop, and a college education was not required in England until
the 19th century, so this system was unique.
The clerkship program required much individual study and the
mentoring lawyer was expected to carefully select materials for
study and guide the clerk in his study of the law and ensure that
it was being absorbed. The student was supposed to compile his
notes of his reading of the law into a "commonplace book
", which he would try to
memorize. Although those were the ideals, in reality the clerks
were often overworked and rarely were able to study the law
individually as expected. They were often employed to tedious
tasks, such as making handwritten copies of documents. Finding
sufficient legal texts was also a seriously debilitating issue, and
there was no standardization in the books assigned to the clerk
trainees because they were assigned by their mentor, whose opinion
of the law may have differed greatly from his peers. It was said by
one famous attorney in the U.S., William Livingston
, in 1745 in a New York
newspaper that the clerkship program was severely flawed, and that
most mentors "have no manner of concern for their clerk's future
welfare… [T]is a monstrous absurdity to suppose, that the law is to
be learnt by a perpetual copying of precedents." There were some
few mentors that were dedicated to the service, and because of
their rarity, they became so sought after that the first law
schools evolved from the offices of some of these attorneys who
took on many clerks and began to spend more time training than
In time, the apprenticeship program was not considered sufficient
to produce lawyers fully capable of serving their clients needs.
The apprenticeship programs often employed the trainee with menial
tasks, and while they were well trained in the day to day
operations of a law office, they were generally unprepared
practitioners or legal reasoners. The establishment of formal
faculties of law in U.S. universities did not occur until the
latter part of the 18th century. With the beginning of the American
Revolution, the supply of lawyers from Britain ended. The first law degree
granted by a U.S. university was a Bachelor of Law in 1793 by the
William and Mary, which was abbreviated L.B.; Harvard was the first
university to use the LL.B. abbreviation in the United
The first university law programs in the United States, such as
that of the University of Maryland
established in 1812, included much theoretical and philosophical
study, including works such as the Bible, Cicero
Aristotle, Adam Smith, Montesquieu
. It has been said that the early
university law schools of the early 19th century seemed to be
preparing students for careers as statesmen
rather than as lawyers. At the LL.B. programs
in the early 1900s at Stanford University and Yale continued to
include "cultural study," which included courses in languages,
mathematics and economics.
In the 1850s there were many proprietary schools which originated
from a practitioner taking on multiple apprentices and establishing
a school and which provided a practical legal education, as opposed
to the one offered in the universities which offered an education
in the theory, history and philosophy of law. The universities
assumed that the acquisition of skills would happen in practice,
while the proprietary schools concentrated on the practical skills
Revolutionary approach: Scientific study of law
In part to compete with the small professional law schools, there
began a great change in U.S. university legal education.
short time beginning in 1826 Yale began to
offer a complete "practitioners' course" which lasted two years and
included practical courses, such as pleading drafting.
Supreme Court justice Joseph Story
started the spirit of change in legal education at Harvard when he
advocated a more "scientific study" of the law in the 19th century.
At the time he was a lecturer at Harvard. Therefore at Harvard the
education was much of a trade school type of approach to legal
education, contrary to the more liberal arts education advocated by
Blackstone at Oxford and Jefferson at William and Mary.
Nonetheless there continued to be debate among educators over
whether legal education should be more vocational, as at the
private law schools, or through a rigorous scientific method, such
as that developed by Story and Langdell
. In the words of
Dorsey Ellis, "Langdell viewed law as a science and the law library
as the laboratory, with the cases providing the basis for learning
those 'principles or doctrines' of which 'law, considered as a
science, consists.'" Nonetheless, into the year 1900 most states
did not require a university education (although an apprenticeship
was often required) and most practitioners had not attended any law
school or college.
Therefore, the modern legal education system in the U.S. is a
combination of teaching law as a science and a practical skill,
implementing elements such as clinical training, which has become
an essential part of legal education in the U.S. and in the J.D.
program of study. Whereas in the 18th and 19th century, few U.S.
lawyers trained in an apprenticeship "achieved a level of
competence necessary to adequately serve their clients," today as a
result of the development of the U.S. legal education system, "law
graduates perceive themselves to be prepared upon graduation" for
the practice of law.
Creation of the J.D. and major common law approaches to legal
The J.D. originated in the United States during a movement to
improve training of the professions. The didactic approaches which
resulted were revolutionary for university education and have
slowly been implemented outside the U.S., but only recently (since
about 1997) and in stages. The degrees which resulted from this new
approach, such as the M.D. and the J.D., are just as different from
their European counterparts as the educational approaches
Legal education in the United States
Professional doctorates were developed in the United States in the
19th century, the first being the M.D.
in 1807, but the professional law
degree took more time. At the time the legal system in the United
States was still in development as the educational institutions
were developing. The status of the legal profession was at that
time still ambiguous (unlike that of the medical practitioners,
whose place in society has always been well established), therefore
the development of the legal degree took much time. Even when some
universities offered training in law, they did not offer a degree.
Because in the United States there were no Inns of Court, and the
English academic degrees did not provide the necessary professional
training, the models from England were inapplicable, and the degree
program took some time to develop. At first the degree took the
form of a B.L. (such as at the College of William and Mary), but
then Harvard, keen on importing legitimacy through the trappings of
Oxford and Cambridge, implemented an LL.B. degree. This was
somewhat controversial at the time because it was a professional
training without any of the cultural or classical studies required
of a bachelors degree in England. Thus, even though the name of the
English LL.B. degree was implemented at Harvard, the program in the
U.S. was nonetheless intended as practical or professional
training, and not, as in England, merely a bachelor of arts
denoting a specialization in law.
Creation of the Juris Doctor
In the mid-19th century there was much concern about the quality of
legal education in the United States. Christopher Columbus Langdell,
who served as dean of Harvard Law School from 1870 to 1895, dedicated his life to reforming
legal education in the United
The historian Robert Stevens wrote that "it was
Langdell's goal to turn the legal profession into a university
educated one — and not at the undergraduate level, but through a
three-year post baccalaureate degree." This graduate level study
would allow the intensive legal training that Langdell had
developed, known as the case method (a method of studying landmark
cases) and the socratic method (a method of examining students on
the reasoning of the court in the cases studied). Therefore, a
graduate high level law degree was established, the Juris Doctor,
implementing the case and socratic methods as its didactic
approach. The J.D. was established as the equivalent of the J.U.D.
in Germany to reflect the advanced study required to be an
effective lawyer. It was not a conversion of the LL.B. degree, but
a graduate degree to be distinguished from undergraduate programs.
Harvard was first to offer the new doctorate. The University of Chicago Law
was the first to offer it exclusively (i.e., the first
to not offer both the J.D. and the LL.B.). While approval was still
pending at Harvard, the degree was introduced at many other law
schools in the United States.
Because of tradition, and concerns about less famous universities
implementing a J.D. program, there was some reluctance by some
institutions, such as Yale Law School, to implement the J.D. as the
only law degree. By the 1960s every law school except Yale offered
a J.D. as its sole professional law degree. Yale continued to
confer the LL.B. as its professional degree in law until 1971.
Nonetheless, the LL.B. at Yale retained the didactical changes of
the "practitioners courses" of 1826 and was very different from the
LL.B. in common law countries other than Canada.
James Parker Hall, one of the first
deans of the University of Chicago School of Law and a major
proponent of the J.D.
Major common law approaches and the LL.B.
The English legal system is the root of the systems of other
common-law countries, such as the United States. Originally common
lawyers in England were trained exclusively in the Inns of Court,
but even though it took nearly 150 years since common law education
began with Blackstone at Oxford for university education to be part
of legal training in England and Wales, eventually the LL.B. became
the degree usually taken before becoming a lawyer. Nonetheless, in
England and Wales the LL.B. is an undergraduate scholarly program
and does not provide all of the training required before becoming
licensed in that jurisdiction. Both barristers and solicitors must
undertake two further periods of training (the Bar Vocational
Course and pupillage for barristers and the LPC and a training
contract for solicitors).
The bachelor's degree originated at the University of Paris, which
system was implemented at Oxford and Cambridge. The "arts"
designation of the degree traditionally signifies that the student
has undertaken a certain amount of study of the classics. On
continental Europe the bachelor's degree was phased out in the 18th
or early 19th century but it continued at Oxford and Cambridge.
Today Oxford offers the bachelor's degree in law (B.C.L.) as a
second entry program, contrary to the practice of all other English
universities. Cambridge followed the same practice until relatively
recently, renaming its LL.B. degree as LL.M. in 1982.
Because the English legal education is undergraduate and provides a
general education (retaining some of the characteristics of the
liberal arts degree advocated by Blackstone) a great number of the
graduates have no intention of becoming solicitors or barristers.
The approach of the English degree can be seen in the required
curriculum, in which there is no study of civil procedure, and
relatively few courses in advanced law such as business entities,
bankruptcy, evidence, family law, etc. There has been a trend in
the past twenty years in England to introduce more professionally
relevant courses in the curriculum, particularly in "qualifying law
degrees," and the law school has taken a more central role in the
preparation of lawyers in England, but the degree is still more
scholarly or academic than those in North America. This is also the
case for other commonwealth jurisdictions such as in Australia,
India and Hong Kong.
Legal education in Canada has unique variations from other
commonwealth countries. Even though the legal system of Canada is
mostly a transplant of the English system (Quebec excepted), the
Canadian system is unique in that there are no Inns of Court, the
practical training occurs in the office of a licensed attorney,
and, since 1889, a university degree has been a prerequisite to
initiating a clerkship (which requirement was not implemented until
much later in England). The education in law schools in Canada was
similar to that in the United States at the turn of the 20th
century, but with a greater concentration on statutory drafting and
interpretation, and elements of a liberal education. The bar
associations in Canada were influenced by the changes at Harvard,
and were sometimes quicker to nationally implement the changes
proposed in the United States, such as requiring previous college
education before studying law.
Modern variants and curriculum
Legal education is rooted in the history and structure of the legal
system of the jurisdiction where the education is given, therefore
law degrees are vastly different from country to country, making
comparisons among degrees problematic. This has proven true in the
context of the various forms of the J.D. which have been
implemented around the world.
Until about 1997 the J.D. was unique to law schools in the U.S. But
with the rise in international success of law firms from the United
States, and the rise in students from outside the U.S. attending
U.S. law schools, attorneys with the J.D. have become increasingly
common internationally. Therefore the prestige of the J.D. has also
risen, and many universities outside of the U.S. have started to
offer the J.D., often for the express purpose of raising the
prestige of their law school and graduates. Such institutions
usually aim to appropriate the name of the degree only, and
sometimes the new J.D. program of study is the same as that of
their traditional law degree, which is usually more scholarly in
purpose than the professional training intended with the J.D. as
created in the U.S. Various characteristics can therefore be seen
among J.D. degrees as implemented in universities around the
Comparisons of J.D.
||Scholarly Content Required?
||Duration in Years
||Different curriculum from LL.B. in Jurisdiction?
||Sufficient Education for License?
|Standard J.D. Program
||only 1 legal theory course
||No (1 less year only)
||Yes (including research paper)
||Yes (including research paper or dissertation)
||No (additional research or dissertation only)
||Yes (including major thesis)
||No (additional thesis and apprenticeship only)
Types and characteristics
Until very recently, only law schools in the United States offered
the Juris Doctor
. Starting about 1997, universities in
other countries began introducing the J.D. as a first professional
degree in law, with differences appropriate to the legal systems of
the countries in which these law schools are situated.
Standard Juris Doctor curriculum
As stated by James Hall and Christopher Langdell, two people who
were involved in the creation of the J.D., the J.D. is a
professional degree like the M.D.
, intended to prepare practitioners
of analysing and teaching the law through
logic and adversarial analysis (such as the Casebook
methods). It has existed
as described in the United States for over 100 years, and can
therefore be termed the standard or traditional J.D. program. The
J.D. program requires a bachelors degree for entry. The program of
study for the degree has remained substantially unchanged since its
creation, and is an intensive study of the substantive law and its
professional applications (and therefore requires no thesis,
although a lengthy writing project is sometimes required). As a
professional training, it provides sufficient training for entry
into practice (no apprenticeship is necessary to sit for the bar
exam). It requires at least three academic years of full time
study. Strictly defined, the United States is the only jurisdiction
with this form of a J.D., but the University of Tokyo (in Japan)
and the University of Melbourne (in Australia) are attempting to
follow this model closely.
For graduates of other departments
There has been an increase in the popularity of entering the
professions, and to meet this demand some schools offer a program
for students who have already graduated from another department to
return to school to earn a law degree. Many of the participants in
this kind of program already have some work experience. The best
example of this form are the J.D. programs in Hong Kong and some in
Australia. Those programs are more or less identical to the LL.B.
programs, except they are usually more intensive and thus take less
time to complete. Because such programs are essentially an LL.B.
program, this kind of program is academic in nature, shorter than
other J.D. programs, and more training is required before a
graduate is qualified to apply to the bar for admission (such as
Professional Legal Training and an apprenticeship).
Replacement for the LL.B.
Some Canadian and Australian universities have law programs that
are very similar to the J.D. programs in the United States. These
include the Osgoode Hall Law School and University of Toronto Law
School (in Canada) in Canada, and the University of Melbourne in
Australia . Therefore, when the J.D. program was introduced at
these institutions, it was a mere re-naming of their second-entry
LL.B. program and entailed no significant substantive changes to
their curricula. The reason given for so doing is because of the
international popularity and recognizability of the J.D., and the
need to recognize the demanding graduate characteristics of the
program. Because these programs are in institutions heavily
influenced by those in the U.K., the J.D. programs often have some
small scholarly element (see chart above, entitled "Comparisons of
J.D. Variants"). And because the legal systems are also influenced
by that of the U.K., an apprenticeship is still required before
being qualified to apply for a license to practice (see country
sections below, under "Descriptions of the J.D. outside the
Descriptions of the J.D. outside the U.S.
As in all other commonwealth countries, the standard law degree in
Australia is the LL.B. Although the J.D. is "growing in
popularity," only 10 of the 30 law schools offer the J.D., and the
J.D. has replaced the LL.B. in only one of them. The main purpose
of the J.D. in Australia is to give the opportunity for non-law
graduates to study law, therefore it is supplementary to, and not a
substitute for, the LL.B. The LL.B programs are usually combined
with an arts degree (BA/LL.B) and can be completed in five years,
or are offered as second entry programs. The LL.B. curriculum is
less scholarly than that in the U.K., usually only requiring one
jurisprudice or theory course. Many universities such as Australian
National University, Bond
University, University of Southern
Queensland, University of
New England, University of Melbourne, Monash
University, University of Technology
Sydney, University of New South Wales and the University of Notre Dame
Australia now offer the J.D., usually for graduates from
non-law programs who wish to study law.
But at the
University of Melbourne the J.D. degree, like at the University of
Toronto, has completely replaced the LL.B. as the degree of law. A
first degree is required for admittance to all J.D. programs in
Australia. The program lasts two or three years fulltime and the
courses, like the LL.B. program, are professionally oriented. But
for both the J.D. and LL.B. programs, a graduate cannot be licensed
to practice until after completing an articled clerkship program or
practical legal training course. University of Technology Sydney
offers Practical Legal Training as part of their J.D. program
enabling direct admission upon graduation. Bond University offers a
J.D. program that has core requirements that are identical to the
LL.B. However, Bond University J.D. students are also required to
complete five masters level elective subjects. The Bond University
J.D. program can therefore be described as an integrated bachelors
and masters degree Even more unusual is the "LL.M. (J.D.)" at
Monash University, which is the same as the Bond University
program, and that institution also states that their degree is not
a professional doctorate. The LL.M offered at Monash university is
also offered at several other Australian universities including the
University of Adelaide and the University of Western Australia. A
Masters Degree is a lesser degree to the PhD program which is
available across Australia. Completion of the PhD program enables
the candidate to refer to themselves as "Doctor".
Several law schools in Canada award their graduates the designation
Juris Doctor . In order to be admitted to a Juris Doctor program,
applicants must have completed a minimum 3-year Bachelor's study.
All Canadian Juris Doctor programs consist of three years, and have
similar content in their mandatory first year courses. As with U.S.
J.D. programs, such as that of the New York University Law School,
the mandatory first year courses in Canadian law schools outside
Quebec include "public" "constitutional" or "state" law, tort law,
contract law, criminal law,and some sort of "professional practice"
course . Beyond first year and the minimum requirements for
graduation, course selection is elective with various
concentrations such as business law, international law, natural
resources law, criminal law, Aboriginal law, etc. After graduation
from an accredited law school, each Province's law society requires
completion of a bar examination, and a period of supervised
"articling" prior to independent practice..
Use of the "J.D." designation by Canadian law schools is not
intended to indicate an emphasis on American law, but rather to
distinguish Canadian law degrees from English law degrees, which do
not require prior undergraduate study.. The Canadian J.D. is a
degree in Canadian Law. Accordingly, United States jurisdictions
other than New York and Massachusetts, do not recognize Canadian
Juris Doctor degrees automatically . This is equivalent to the
manner in which United States J.D. graduates are treated in
Canadian jurisdictions such as Ontario . To prepare graduates to
practice in jurisdictions on both sides of the border, some pairs
of law schools, such as the New York University (NYU) Law School
and Osgoode Hall Law School, , the University of Ottawa Law School
and the Michigan State University Law School, and the University of
Windsor Law School and the University of Detroit Mercy Law School,
have developed joint American-Canadian J.D programs.
The primary law degree in Hong Kong is the LL.B., which is more or
less identical to the LL.B. in England. The J.D. degree was
first offered at the City University of Hong Kong, and is now also offered at the Chinese
University of Hong Kong, and the University of Hong Kong (since September 2009).
The degree is known
as the 法律博士 in Chinese, or Faat Leot Bok Si
. The J.D. in Hong Kong is almost
identical to the LL.B. and is reserved for graduates of non-law
disciplines. However, since 2009, the J.D. at the
University of Hong Kong has had a comparatively stricter grading policy
from the normal LL.B.
As in most jurisdictions where an LL.B is the primary law degree,
there is still much confusion over status of the J.D. in Hong Kong.
It is generally regarded as a professional postgraduate degree and,
as the City University website states, the J.D. is not an
equivalent to a PhD. After either the LL.B. or the J.D. is
completed, in order to practice, graduates of both are required to
undertake the PCLL
course and a solicitor
traineeship or a barrister pupillage.
Japan the J.D. is known as Homu Hakushi (法務博士)
and has replaced the bachelor of law as the first entry law
The program generally lasts three years. This
curriculum is professionally oriented, but does not provide the
education sufficient for a license, as all candidates for a license
must attend the Legal Training and Research Institute.
Philippines, the J.D. degree is similar to the J.D. in
As a degree program, it exists alongside the more
common LL.B. Like the standard LL.B, it requires four years of
study, is considered as a graduate degree and requires prior
undergraduate study as a prerequisite for admission, and. covers
the core subjects required for the bar examinations. However, the
J.D. requires students to finish the core bar subjects in just 2
1/2 years; take elective courses (such as legal theory, philosophy,
and sometimes even theology); undergo an apprenticeship; and write
and defend a thesis. Notwithstanding these differences, both the
J.D. and the LL.B. are considered the equivalent of a master's
degree by the Philippines' Commission on Higher Education.
The degree was first conferred in the Philippines by the Ateneo de Manila Law School
, which first
developed the model program later adopted by most schools now
offering the J.D.. After the Ateneo, schools such as the University
of Batangas College of Law began offering the J.D., with schools
such as the Far
Eastern University Institute of Law
offering a joint degree
program leading to a J.D. and an MBA. In 2008, the University of the
Philippines College of Law
began conferring the J.D. on its
graduates, the school choosing rename its LL.B. program into a J.D.
because to accurately reflect the nature of education the
university provides as "nomenclature does not accurately reflect
the fact that the LL.B. is a professional as well as a post
baccalaureate degree." In 2009, the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng
Maynila (PLM) and Silliman University also shifted their respective LL.B Programs to
Juris Doctor -applying the change to incoming freshmen students for
School Year 2009-2010..
The newly established De La Salle University
College of Law
will likewise offer the J.D., although it will
offer the program using a trimestral calendar, unlike the model
curriculum that uses a semestral calendar.
Officially there is no such thing as a J.D. in the People's
Republic of China (P.R.C.), as the government does not authorize
professional doctorates. The primary law degree in the P.R.C. is
the bachelor of law. Starting in the fall of 2008 the Shenzhen
campus of Peking University started the School of
, which attempts to introduce a U.S.-styled
graduate education in law. The program misleadingly advertises in
English that it confers a J.D. degree, but in Chinese the official
degree awarded is a master's degree of international law (国际法律硕士).
The curriculum of the program appears to be nearly identical to
that of a J.D. program at a U.S. university and requires three
years of study.
At this time the Juris Doctor does not exist in India, and no
official entity in India authorizes the award of a Juris Doctorate
degree. A new venture Jindal Global Law School
sought to start an academic
program with a recognized Juris Doctor degree, however that plan
was withdrawn, and the school now only offers the more traditional
LL.B. and LL.M. degrees.
No university in Italy awards a Juris Doctor degree, nor are there
any plans to implement the degree. However, because the law degree
in Italy is more advanced than a standard undergraduate program,
and lawyers in Italy often use the title of "doctor" (Italian law
authorizes all university graduates, including undergraduates, to
use the title of doctor) lawyers in Italy believe that the best
translation of their degree is "J.D." which commonly appears on
their resumes and profiles.
Honorifics and designations
Persons licensed as attorneys in the United States often use a
variety of titles and suffixes, however, the titles "Attorney,"
" ("Esq.") and
"lawyer" must be distinguished from "J.D.". Generally, the
designation "J.D." indicates a person who has received the J.D.
degree from a law school, whereas "Attorney" and the like indicate
the person is licensed to practice law. Some states restrict the
use of the "J.D." suffix to those licensed to practice law.
for instance, disallows the use of "J.D." as a title if it is
"reasonably likely to induce others to believe the person or entity
is authorized to engage in the practice of law in Arizona".
(In all states, a person who is not
admitted to practice law but who represents or implies that he or
she is an attorney may be subject to penalties for the unauthorized
practice of law or impersonating a lawyer, both of which are
criminal offenses in many jurisdictions.)
There has been some debate in the United States as to whether J.D.
recipients may use the title of Doctor
and refer to themselves as "Doctor"
ABA Informal Opinion 1152 (1970) and Disciplinary Rule 2-102(E)
permit those who hold a Juris Doctor (J.D.) to use the title. Some
local bar associations in the U.S. have released opinion papers
stating that J.D. holders may use the title of "doctor" in those
jurisdictions. The J.D. is not considered by some to be a terminal
degree, leading to questions about the status of the J.D. as a
doctorate and the eligibility of J.D. holders to use the "doctor"
title. (See debate
below). However, the degree is the highest level professional law
degree in the United States, and is treated as a terminal degree in
U.S. academic practice. For example, the highest degree of some
university presidents—a position that typically requires a Ph.D. or
comparable (i.e. terminal) degree—is a J.D. (e.g., former Harvard
president Derek Bok
, and the presidents of
and Johns Hopkins
The J.D. is a professional doctorate degree, and some J.D. holders
in the United States use the title of "Doctor" in professional and
academic situations. In countries where holders of the first law
degree traditionally use the title of doctor (e.g. Peru, Brazil,
Macau, Portugal, Argentina, and Italy), J.D. holders who are
attorneys will often use the title of doctor as well. The J.D. in Japan is known as
Hōmu Hakushi (法務博士) and in China it is called 法律博士
(Faat Leot Bok Si in Cantonese, or Falü Boshi in
The characters 博士 in Japanese and Chinese mean
"doctor" and this is the same title given to holders of both
professional and academic doctorate degrees.
Executive Juris Doctor
The Executive Juris Doctor is awarded by two online universities in
the United States.. Concord Law School claims trademark rights to the EJD acronym, the
only degree that has had a trademark claimConcord Law School.
EJDsm. Accessed June 12, 2008. (the
purpose of a trademark is to reserve exclusive use).
program is offered by the online universities of Concord Law
School of Kaplan University and Taft Law School of The Taft University
Both institutions are accredited by the Distance
Education and Training Council (DETC), but not the American Bar Association
of the EJD are not able to sit for a bar exam in any jurisdiction
without an additional qualifying law degree.Concord Law School.
. Accessed June 12, 2008. The
website states that students "are not required to adhere to the
strict guidelines of the State Bar of California" because of this
fact. The program requires three years of study and 72 semester
units. The program was created to meet the needs of professionals
who have no intention of practicing law, but who seek a law degree
to supplement their own specialization.
Debate about academic status
The J.D. is a first professional degree and a professional
doctorate. However, the J.D.'s status as a professional degree does
not imply status as a research degree. As a result, there has been
debate as to whether or not the J.D. is a doctoral level degree as
the classification is applied to research degrees, such as the
Evidence that the Juris Doctor is a doctoral level degree
- Academic and professional organizations recognize the J.D. as a
- The American Bar
Association permits J.D. holders in the United States to use
the title of "Doctor," and some local bar associations in the
United States have also issued concurring opinion statements.
- In the United States, J.D. holders are treated similar to
holders of research doctorate degrees by academic policies. For
example, J.D. holders are issued doctorate robes, and the highest
degree of some university presidents—a position for which
universities commonly require a Ph.D. or comparable (i.e. terminal)
degree—is a J.D. (e.g. University of California president
Mark Yudof, former Harvard president
Derek Bok, and the presidents of Columbia and Johns Hopkins universities).
Evidence that the Juris Doctor is not a doctoral level
- In reference to professional doctorates, including the Juris
Doctor, the United States Department of Education states, "Several
of these degrees use the term “doctor” in the title, but these
degrees do not contain an independent research component or require
a dissertation (thesis) and should not be confused with PhD degrees
or other research doctorates."
- The academic degree Master of Laws (LL.M.) requires the
professional Juris Doctor as a prerequisite, and the academic
Scientiae Juridicae Doctor (S.J.D.)
requires a Juris Doctor. and sometimes also requires an LL.M. (In
this respect, a professional doctorate in law resembles
professional doctorates in dentistry and medicine (D.D.S. or D.M.D
or M.D.), which function as prerequisites
required for admission into academic Master's programs.)
- An Australian academic institution has stated that, despite its
name, recipients of the Juris Doctor are not entitled to use the
honorific title "Doctor" at that institution. The minutes of a 2004
Deans Council Meeting at Austin Peay State University, which does not have a law school, appear to
indicate that at least some attendees did not regard the Juris
Doctor as a terminal
- The U.S. government sets the starting pay grade for "Master's
or equivalent graduate degree(s) (such as LL.B., J.D., or M.D.)" at
GS-9, but the pay grade for "Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral
degree(s)" at GS-11. The European Research Council states that,
"First-professional degrees will not be
considered...PhD-equivalent, even if recipients carry the title
Notes and references
- Under "Data notes" this article mentions that the J.D. is a
- . Under "other references" differences between academic and
professional doctorates, and contains a statement that the J.D. is
a professional doctorate
- Report by the German Federal Ministry of Education analysing
the Chronicle of Higher Education from the U.S. and stating that
the J.D. is a professional doctorate.
- (the degrees offered by law schools are listed in this volume
as doctorates and not first professional degrees)
- Herbermann, et al. (1915). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Encyclopedia Press.
Accessed May 26, 2008.
- García y García, A. (1992). "The Faculties of Law," A History of the University
in Europe, London: Cambridge University Press. Accessed May 26,
- García y García (1992), 390.
- Stein (1981), 434, 435.
- Stein (1981), 434, 436.
- Stein, R. (1981). The Path of Legal Education from Edward to Langdell: A
History of Insular Reaction, Pace University School of Law
Faculty Publications, 1981, 57 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 429, p. 430.
- Stein (1981), 431.
- Stein (1981), 432.
- Stein (1981), 433.
- Stein (1981), 434.
- Stein (1981), 435.
- Moline, Brian J., Early American Legal Education, 42 Washburn Law
Journal 775, 793 (2003).
- Stein (1981), 436.
- Moline (2003), 775.
- Stein (1981), 429.
- Stein (1981), 438.
- Stein (1981), 439.
- Moline (2003), 781.
- Moline (2003), 782.
- Moline (2003), 782 and 783.
- Sonsteng, J. (2007). "[ http://ssrn.com/abstract=1084098 A
Legal Education Renaissance: A Practical Approach for the
Twenty-First Century]" . William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 34, No.
1, Revised April 2, 2008. Accessed May 26, 2008. page 13.
- Stein (1981).
- Stein (1981), 442.
- Kirkwood, M. and Owens, W. A Brief History of the Stanford Law School, 1893-1946,
Stanford University School of Law. Accessed May 26, 2008.
- Moline (2003), 794.
- Moline (2003), 795.
- Kirkwood, 19.
- Sonsteng (2007), 15.
- Moline (2003), 798.
- Moline (2003), 800.
- Moline (2003), 801.
- Stein (1981), 445.
- For detailed discussions of the development of Langdell's
method, see LaPiana, W. (1994). Logic and Experience: The Origin of Modern American
Legal Education, New York: Oxford University Press; and Stein,
R. (1981). The Path of Legal Education from Edward to
Langdell: A History of Insular Reaction, Pace University School
of Law Faculty Publications, 1981, 57 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 429, pages
- Ellis, D. (2001). Legal Education: A Perspective on the Last
130 Years of American Legal Training, 6 Wash. U.J.L. & Pol'y
157, p. 166.
- Moline (2003), 802.
- Sonsteng (2007), 19.
- Reed (1921) and Stein (1981).
- Reed (1921), 162.
- Reed (1921), 165.
- Reed (1921), 164.
- Reed (1921), 167.
- Reed (1921), 161; and Reed, A. (1928). Present-Day Law Schools
in the United States and Canada, Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching, Bulletin 21, Boston: Merrymount Press,
- Reed (1928), 74; and Reed (1921), 169.
- Stevens, R. (1971). "Two Cheers For 1870: The American Law
School," in Law in American History, eds. Donald Fleming
and Bernard Bailyn. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1971,
- Harno, A. (2004) Legal Education in the United States, New
Jersey: Lawbook Exchange, page 50.
- Herbermann, 112-117.
- Schoenfeld, M. (1963). "J.D. or LL.B as the Basic Law Degree,"
Cleveland-Marshall Law Review, Vol. 4, pp. 573-579, quoted in
Joanna Lombard, LL.B. to J.D. and the Professional Degree in
Architecture , Proceedings of the 85th ACSA Annual Meeting,
Architecture: Material and Imagined and Technology Conference,
1997. pp. 585-591.
- Schoenfeld (1963).
- John H. Langbein, "Scholarly and Professional Objectives in
Legal Education: American Trends and English Comparisons," Pressing
Problems in the Law, Volume 2: What are Law Schools For?, Oxford
University Press, 1996.
- Reed, (1921), 160
- Reed (1921), 161
- The History of the LL.M.
- Langbein, J. (1996). "Scholarly and Professional Objectives in
Legal Education: American Trends and English Comparisons," Pressing
Problems in the Law, Volume 2: What are Law Schools For?, Oxford
- Langbein (1996).
- Reed (1921), 27.
- Reed (1928), 390.
- See, Langbein (1996).
- University of British Columbia Board of Governors approves
request for LL.B to be renamed J.D. .
- Verification of the data in this table can be found in the
subsequent paragraphs of this section.
- Hall, J. (1907). American Law School Degrees, Michigan Law
Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 112-117.
- For example, see J.D. Substantial Writing Requirement, NYU
School of Law. Accessed July 23, 2009.
- Belford, T. (2009). " Why Change to a J.D. Degree?
- University of Toronto J.D. admissions FAQ .
- Belford, T. (2009). " Why Change to a J.D. Degree? Globe Campus.
Accessed August 24, 2009.
- Susannah Moran (17 August 2007). Juris doctor degree grows in popularity.
The Australian. Retrieved 2008-09-19.
- University of Queensland. University of Queensland School of Law LL.B. Program
Outline. Accessed March 23, 2007.
- Oztrekk.com. Description of Australian Law School Programs.
Accessed March 23, 2007.
- Bond University. Juris Doctor. Accessed April 7, 2008. Also stated by
RMIT at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Juris Doctor. Accessed April 7, 2008.
- Monash University. Master of Laws (Juris Doctor). Accessed April 7,
- Osgoode Law School "Dean Patrick Monahan on the Growing Number
of Canadian Law Schools Switching from the LLB to JD Degree
- Canadian law school concentrations, certificates and
joint-degree programs .
- Law Law Society of Upper Canada PRP.
- NYU/Osgoode Joint LL.B/J.D. .
- Michigan State University School of Law and the University of
Ottawa Joint J.D. - LL.B. Degree Program
- University of Windsor / University of Detroit. J.D./LL.B.
ProgramAccessed June 1, 2008.
- The University of Hong Kong. Juris
Doctor (JD) Overview. Accessed December 15, 2008.
- The Chinese University of Hong Kong School of Law. The Juris Doctor (JD) Programme. Accessed June 29,
2008. City University of Hong Kong. Programmes and Courses: Juris Doctor. Accessed
June 29, 2008.
- City University of Hong Kong. Programmes and Courses. Accessed April 7,
- Hong Kong Bar Association. General Admission. Accessed June 1, 2008.
- The Justice System Reform Council (2001). For a Justice
System to Support Japan in the 21st Century.
- Yokohama National University Law School. Program Introduction and Dean's Message. Accessed
April 7, 2008.
- Foote, D. (2005). Justice System Reform in Japan. Annual meeting of the
Research Committee of Sociology of Law, Paris. European Network on
Law and Society.
- Ateneo de Manila Law School. Philippine Leadership Crisis and the J.D.
Program. Accessed April 7, 2008.
- Clarificatory Guidelines Relative to the Offering of the
Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) Program and Juris Doctor (JD) Degree
- Curriculum models (2006). Philippine Association of Law
- University of Philippines College of Law. News. April
- The Weekly Sillimanian Vol. LXXXII No.4: SU Law adopts Juris
Doctor Program. By: Princess Dianne Kris S. Decierdo. Published
July 15, 2009. Archived copies can be viewed and verified at
the Sillimaniana Section of the Silliman University Main
- PLM Curricula and Degree Programs
- De La Salle University College of Law Brochure
(last accessed July 2009).
- P.R.C. National People's Congress. Regulations of the People's Republic of China on
Academic Degrees(2004). Accessed September 12, 2008.
- Peking University Shenzhen, School of Transnational Law. 学院概况
. Accessed June 6, 2008. Peking University
Shenzhen Graduate School. 国际法学院国际法律硕士接受调剂生通知 . Accessed June 6, 2008.
- Peking University Shenzhen, School of Transnational Law.
J.D. Program First-Year Curriculum, 2008-2009.
Accessed June 6, 2008.
- About O.P. Jindal Global University. O.P. Jindal
Global University. Accessed February 16, 2009.
- i.e. the Laurea
Specialisticà in Giurisprudenza
- Studio Misuraca, Franceschin and Associates.
Accessed February 16, 2009.
- Regio Decreto 4 giugno 1938, n.1269, art. 48
(in Italian). Accessed February 16, 2009.
- E.g. search for lawyers in Italy on Martindale and
view the individual profiles.
- Ariz. Sup. Ct. R. 31 (a)(2)(B)(2). Accessed
June 10, 2008.
- See, e.g., Texas Penal Code section 38.122 (falsely
holding oneself out as a lawyer, third degree felony, two to ten
years in prison per Tex. Penal Code sec. 12.34) and section 38.123
(unauthorized practice of law, generally, Class A
- American Bar Association. Model Code of Professional Responsibility,
Disciplinary Rule 2-102(E). Cornell University Law School, LLI.
Accessed February 10, 2009. Peter H. Geraghty. Are There Any Doctors Or Associates In the House?.
American Bar Association, 2007.
- For example, See North Carolina State Bar. Use of the Title
"Doctor" in Academia, 2007 Formal Ethics Opinion 5. North
Carolina State Bar, April 20, 2007. Texas State Bar Association.
Texas Committee on Professional Ethics, Op.
550. Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, May
2004. Florida Bar Association. Opinion 88-2. The Florida Bar, January 15,
1988. New Jersey Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics.
Opinion 461. New Jersey Bar Association. South
Carolina Bar Association. Ethics Advisory Opinion 76-02. South Carolina
Bar Association, 1976. Michigan Bar Association. Opinion 1176. Michigan Bar Association,
- See University of Utah Academic Senate, Senate Summary,
11/3/03, vol. 34 n. 3, pg. 2 (3rd full paragraph). Ohio University Presidential Position Description.
Ohio University. Accessed February 20, 2009.
- See American Bar Association. Council Statement 2. American Bar
- Association of American Universities Data Exchange; National
Science Foundation (2006); San Diego County Bar Association (1969);
University of Utah (2006); German Federal Ministry of Education;
Encyclopedia Britannica (2002).
- E.g. University of Montana School of Business Administration.
Profile of Dr. Michael Harrington. University of
Montana, 2006. See also Distance Learning Discussion Forums.
New wrinkle in the "Is the JD a doctorate?"
debate. Distance Learning Discussion Forums, 2003-2005.
- E.g. Peru: Hernandez & Cia. Accessed February 16,
2009; Brazil: Abdo & Diniz. Accessed February 16, 2009
(see Spanish or Portuguese profile pages); Macau: Macau Lawyers Association. Accessed February 16, 2009;
Portugal: Alves Periera Teixeira de Sousa. Accessed
February 16, 2009; Argentina: Lareo & Paz. Accessed February 16, 2009;
and Italy Studio Misuraca, Franceschin and Associates.
Accessed February 16, 2009.
- E.g. Dr. Ronald Charles Wolf. Accessed February 16,
2009. Florida Bar News. Debate over 'doctor of law' title continues.
Florida Bar Association, July 1, 2006.
- Google Translate; Longman English-Japanese Dictionary
(2007). Pearson Education, Essex U.K.; Pocket Kenkyusha Japanese
Dictionary. (2003). Oxford, N.Y.
- Google Translate; The Contemporary Chinese Dictionary.
(2002). Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, Beijing.;
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (Chinese-English).
(2006). Pearson Education, Hong Kong, 2006.
- See previous two cites, respectively, for Japanese and Chinese
usage. Also see The Morrison Foester law firm website, one of
the largest law firms in Asia and the United States, for an example
- The Chronicle of Higher Education. (October 30, 2007). Concord Law School Merges with Kaplan U..
Accessed June 12, 2008. Concord Law School. Concord Law School Accreditation. Accessed June
- Qualitex Co. v.
Jacobson Products Co., Inc., 514 U.S. 159 (1995)
- Association of American Universities Data Exchange. Glossary of Terms for Graduate Education.
Accessed May 26, 2008.
- National Science Foundation (2006). " Time to Degree of U.S. Research Doctorate
Recipients," "InfoBrief, Science Resource Statistics" NSF
06-312, 2006, p. 7. (under "Data notes" mentions that the J.D. is a
- San Diego County Bar Association (1969). "Ethics Opinion 1969-5". Accessed May 26, 2008. (under
"other references" discusses differences between academic and
professional doctorate, and statement that the J.D. is a
- University of Utah (2006). University of Utah – The Graduate School – Graduate
Handbook. Accessed May 28, 2008. (the J.D. degree is listed
under doctorate degrees),
- German Federal Ministry of Education. "U.S. Higher Education / Evaluation of the Almanac
Chronicle of Higher Education". Accessed May 26, 2008. (report
by the German Federal Ministry of Education analyzing the Chronicle
of Higher Education from the U.S. and stating that the J.D. is a
- Encyclopedia Britannica. (2002). "Encyclopedia Britannica",
3:962:1a. (the J.D. is listed among other doctorate degrees).
- American Bar Association. Model Code of Professional Responsibility,
Disciplinary Rule 2-102(E). Cornell University Law School, LLI.
Accessed February 10, 2009.
- Peter H. Geraghty. Are There Any Doctors Or Associates In the House?.
American Bar Association, 2007.
- See University of Utah Academic Senate, Senate Summary,
11/3/03, vol. 34 n. 3, pg. 2 (3rd full paragraph). Ohio University Presidential Position Description.
Ohio University. Accessed February 20, 2009. Presidential Search. Stony Brook University. Accessed
February 22, 2009. Presidential Candidate Search. University of South
Carolina. Accessed February 22, 2009.
- For another example of the J.D. being considered a terminal
degree for purposes of an academic appointment, See
- Yale Law School, Admission Requirements for
- Comparing American and British Legal Education Systems: Lessons
for Commonwealth African Law Schools, Kenneth K. Mwenda, Cambria
- RMIT University, Postgraduate Program in Juris Doctor.,
- Austin Peay State University, Minutes of Deans Council Meeting,
July 28, 2004. ,
- United States Department of Labor
- PhD and Equivalent Doctoral Degrees: The ERC