Tuesday, August 09, 2005

JD versus LLB: Results

With 65 votes tallied, it looks like the JD is preferred over the LLB. Almost half of you voted for the JD while only 26.2% voted for the LLB. Interestingly, 26.2% don't care. If you haven't voted yet, click here.

Of course, this was not a scientific study and I hope no one takes it too seriously. But with UofT abandoning the LLB and Osgoode (the school, not the building) teaming up with NYU to offer JDs, this is a pressing issue for Canadian law schools.

Personally, I would prefer a JD. Describing a law degree as a "bachelor's" degree does not do it justice. A commentator noted that a student can enter an LLB stream after only 2 years of undergraduate education while Americans must complete 4 years to enter a JD program. While that may technically be accurate, it does not reflect reality. The vast majority of Canadian students in the LLB stream have completed a 4 year undergraduate degree and prospective students with only 2 years may enter UofT Law and receive a JD. The fact that Americans must complete a 4 year program while Canadian students have the potential to enter law school after only 2 years is a distinction only in admission requirements, not a distinction in the value of the degrees. UofT explains:
The University of Toronto feels that the J.D. degree designation more accurately reflects the educational accomplishments of the vast majority of the Faculty's graduates who enter with at least one university degree (approximately 20% now enter our law school with graduate degrees as well). In addition, the J.D. is viewed as providing our graduates with a more competitive degree designation. This is particularly important for the increasing numbers of U of T students and graduates who choose to work or study outside Canada.
These arguments apply equally to students at Queen's and other Canadian law schools. Furthermore, if 20% of students enter with a graduate degree, probably +95% enter having completed an undergraduate degree. (In Queen's Law '07, I can only think of a few who don't.) By giving them yet another bachelor's degree, aren't law schools sending them off into the world at a disadvantage? I would estimate that the average age of British law school graduates is about 23 while the average age of Canadians is 26 or 27 (the same age as American graduates). Aren't those extra years of study worth something? UofT notes:
[T]he LL.B. is typically granted after completion of a legal education that is obtained following graduation from high school, which is the case in virtually all other Commonwealth jurisdictions.
One argument is that Americans know that the Canadian LLB is not equal to the British LLB. I would say that is false. An American who knows the British system would understand that an LLB is only at the undergraduate level. mgcsinc said:
[B]e careful not to clump US and UK law training into one bunch. UK law training is at the undergraduate level and leads to a bachelor's degree in law (LL.B), whereas US law training is a three year graduate program leading to a doctorate in law (J.D). The US considers its law program far superior to that of other countries (and in my opinion, it is).
If we say that the Canadian schools use the LLB system, aren't we saying that it is like the British system? mgcsinc considers the American program far superior to other programs. While he may be unaware that +95% of Canadian students have the same experience as American students, how would he know when we're designating our degrees LLBs? If you need assistance with a Study Permit to study in Canada, check this out.

I'm surprised that 26.2% of you don't care. The letters on our degrees are meaningful. When a doctor includes letters like MPH or FCCM after their name, it communicates that he or she has earned a specialty or a degree. On an international level, "LLB" communicates that we have completed a Bachelor of Legal Letters degree, potentially after high school.

Offering JDs in Canadian law schools is not following the American lead. It is accurately reflecting the experience of Canadian students. It seems to me, and 47.7% of you folks, that we should adopt the JD.

30 Comments:

At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as a law student, I have to say that too many law students (and probably too many lawyers) think way too much of themselves.

Most law students may not want to admit it, but law school isn't that hard. It is certainly significantly easier than most graduate degree programs.

So, let's not continue to build on false illusions by describing our degree as some doctorate program. It isn't. Let's save our respect for those people who have taken Ph.D.'s.

 
At 11:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be honest I could care less. I don't care what someone in Berlin or Paris thinks my degree means, I only care what people who may hire me think it means.

To be sure, I absolutely agree that Canadian schools should switch to the JD and at the same time should change their requirements for entry to include a bachelor's degree. If we continue to say that "the majority have it" without actually changing it, it is a joke. The "vast majority" argument doesn't work in real life why should it work in universities (admitedly far from real life). If I embezzle money and get caught I can't say "the vast majority of the time I am honest" and it be ok, and althought the analogy may be flawed, you shouldn't be able to do it in school either.

As for the argument about Osgoode and their JD....well, that is pretty weak. That is an actual JD that is ABA approved, not a cheap Canadian knock off (like u of t). So you can't really compare.

Anyway, let's get rid of the non-degree people and make our degree a true graduate degree OR stop complaining that we don't get the recognition we deserve.

 
At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have yet to see satisfactory arguments for continued usage of LL.B. The reality is that the rest of the world believes that LL.B. is an undergraduate degree, vis-a-vis England, where in reality it is really equivalent to the post-graduate degrees found in Japan and the USA. The level of education is disparate from its projection, leaving us with a competitive disadvantage internationally.

Incidentally, a 4 year degree is not necessary to acquire a JD in the USA. It may be a de facto requirement for Ivy League, but it is not for the plethora of sub-standard law schools who issue Juris Doctorates throughout the country.

In response to the two comments:

So, let's not continue to build on false illusions by describing our degree as some doctorate program. It isn't. Let's save our respect for those people who have taken Ph.D.'s.

Obviously you have never acquired a Ph.D. It is much easier than a law degree, I assure you. (One might consider this implicit, given that law adheres to a standard, whereas Ph.D.'s do not)

To be honest I could care less. I don't care what someone in Berlin or Paris thinks my degree means, I only care what people who may hire me think it means.

Indeed ... and if someone in Berlin or Paris may hire you?

 
At 9:44 PM, Blogger a blawger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9:46 PM, Blogger a blawger said...

Thanks for the comments. I want to add the last point:

What if a firm in Berlin or Paris was hiring Canadians? Personally, I would apply. But even if I wasn’t interested, Bay Street firms compete with German firms and French firms. Even if you’re only interested in working in Canada, the weight of your degree abroad matters in the larger context.

While at the international law program, we had instructors from Ireland, Australia and Britain. They were very impressed with the caliber of students from Canadian law schools. One to one, we can compete with Americans and Germans. Unfortunately, those of us who are interested in working in Berlin or Paris are at an immediate disadvantage due to our anachronistic LLB.

The first step to recognizing the strength of Canadian students is to recognize we deserve more than a "bachelor's" degree.

 
At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Em said...

Anonymous claims:
"Obviously you have never acquired a Ph.D. It is much easier than a law degree, I assure you."

Give me a break. Show me the percentage of people who have successfully completed a JD-PhD program upon enrolment. As far as I can see with Ivy league statistics, almost all downgrade to leave with a JD-MA. I'm not saying the PhD is "harder" unlike the sweeping statement that Anonymous makes. I'm only saying that the skills required are different for a PhD and a JD. You can't claim that a physics degree is "easier" than a philosophy degree. They're just different.

 
At 4:46 PM, Blogger jack said...

there have been much discussion about the equality o fthe Jd in the US and the LLB degree in the rest of the world.

I have noticed now that universities in australia and possibly some in canada now offer a jd degree as well as a LLB degree in there curriculm.
I am curious what then are your opinions on the JD program in Australia versus the JD program in the US. Are the comparable, if it is that the JD and the LLB in these countries aren't comparable.

 
At 5:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The situation is actually lamentable, due to the lax standards in the UK. The current situation is that LLBs are being handed out after ONE YEAR OF STUDY post what amounts to an equivalent to the bar course in Canadian provinces.

 
At 4:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"lax standards in the UK" ???
The UK is the common law system from which all other common law systems were derived! A UK LLB is as good as any other law degree.

What makes an american law degree better? We all learn the same things. Paper structures and subjects are more or less the same and we start right after A Levels (high school) so effectively at 17 or 18 we are learning what american law students learn at 21 or older!

The JD deserves its name, because unfortunately for the american students, they spend 4 years learning alot of irrelevant subjects. But it is in no way better than an LLB. It's the SAME. The different names symbolise the different education systems, not the quality of the legal education.

 
At 1:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how much sense does it make for an LLM to follow a JD like it does in the US? And then you take a J.S.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science after that to earn 2 'doctorates' in the same field? Where one is the 'true' doctoral degree like a Ph D and the other is a first professional degree.

It makes little sense to have 2 doctoral degrees in the same field. It makes more sense that an LLM follows an LLB, and an JSD follows the LLM.

And fyi, an LLB does not stand for Bachelor of legal letters. Its actually an abbreviated of latin for the genitive plural legum (of lex, law), thus "LL.B." stands for Legum Baccalaureus in Latin. In the United States it is sometimes erroneously called "Bachelor of Legal Letters" to account for the double "L".

Rest assured the American system is far below the Canadian education in pretty much all aspects. Having done an undergrad in Canada and a graduate degree in the US. I was horrified by people who had an undergraduate degree. It was almost the equivalent of a Canadian high school diploma. The JD thing began at Harvard, Yale was the last to lose the LLB in the 70's.

Americans 'release' their law grads on an unsuspecting public without an article. Without any real life legal guidance from anyone with experience. Just the 'bar' exam and their JD. Granted in large firms there are mentoring systems but anyone who has passed bar out of college can set up shop. The law schools in the US pump out grads at a much higher per capita rate than Canada. Anyone who thinks the Canadian LLB is a second rate degree to the JD has no idea what they are talking about. Its really the other way around in my opinion.

 
At 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a U.S. citizen, and I plan on studying for an LLB in the UK an then coming back to work NY.
I have heard UK law schools are much better then U.S. law school.
In U.S. law schools, female students, esp if they are hot sleep their way to the top, and they do so in law firms as fell.

 
At 8:54 AM, Blogger a blawger said...

I would not recommend a UK law school if you want to practice in New York. First, law schools in Britain, as you may know, start right after high school. Your classmates will be much younger, and the school is not geared to support your future goals.

Also, if you're interested in a corporate position, summering with a firm is key. Interviews run during the semester so you will have a very tough time flying back and forth to try and land a position.

Finally, your belief that women sleep to the top is a gross generalization. It may happen, but you are probably not interested in those schools or those firms. Reputable organizations are merit based - and there actually are reputable schools/firms in New York.

 
At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do not know anything about the U.S. legal system. The U.S. women sleep their way to the top in law schools and law firms. Especially if they are hot, it is guaranteed. Its part of a feminazi agenda. The whole legal system and admissions fell apart the day they allowed hot women. The LSAT also favors women. Law schools in NY and American WERE
reputable.

By the way you do not know what you are talking about. I have contacted many UK law schools, and it is not an impediment to study in the UK and then practice in NY. The age of other students do not matter, considering many UK law schools allow many "mature statuts".

I speak 4 lanaguages and plan on working internationally, however keeping my base in NY. So the idea I cannot get a summer job is also wrong.

 
At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi i would like to respond to this.......I would not recommend a UK law school if you want to practice in New York. First, law schools in Britain, as you may know, start right after high school. Your classmates will be much younger, and the school is not geared to support your future goals.
.......hoping that it will benefit the person who is hoping to get an LL B from the UK.
1. I got my LL B from the UK. My experience? one word; "rewarding".
i quickly wish to say something about ...i quote "...law schools in Britain, as you may know, start right after high school...". You know the associate degree they get here, i believe it should be compared to what you get in the UK, before you can actually go to university to get your degree.(If comfusing, i will try to elaborate next time) lets now try to pass on our experiences to the person who is considering to study in the UK.

The "age" issue/situation: My classmates and friends were the mixture of ages btn 19 and many btn 20somethings and 30something. the oldest in my class, my friend was 42. Some young perfomed better than older and some older performed better than the young omes. I was among the youngest. I am trying to say age is nothing, and other peoples age shouldnt do anything to you as long as you know why you brought yourself at an institution. You could be older but yet (sadly)an idiot. I was the second youngest when i started. I knew why i was there, i knew what grades i had to make to get myself somewhere, i knew very well the value of all the pounds that had to go towards my tuition, i wanted to succeed, we had good tutors, most of them already practiced or practicing barristers and solicitors. the most you have to deal with other student is maybe have them as friends(BY CHOICE!!)have them seat near you in class or have to go head to head on moots or maybe have to do a group work with (where again, even old people could be useless,or if not rude i can say seem to have the brains frozen sometimes)
one more thing, we need to have a better idea on how US and UK education system works before we become too (negatively) judgemental or biased. I have, in the end came to appreciate the difference and accepted the senses behind each's(All my life i have studied under British system and My husband, all the way to his Ph D, American system.
2.Ive relocated here in the States(and am now on application process to get to take the BAR exam in July 08. My experience so far: Georgia (where i am) It is said that it is the state that probably has the most complecated process to let you get a licence to practice law here. Rules are changing however. at their website, they have updated their policy and is now possible to apply for a waiver if you have a foreign degree, then they let you take the BAR. actually it is adviced that individuals shold try to take advantage of the new policies on pettition for the waiver.
About 3 years ago, this wasnt possible here.(evidence -georgia bar website had added flexibility on its policies around april of 2005) I know a woman who had to start all over (she went and studied for a JD) she was a solicitor in the UK for over 5 yrs. (Last monday, a friend (of my mentor) who is a Bar board member informed about a meeting they had about policies and regulations.
A friend in new York,(he relocated from Indiana) he got his LL B from UK, he has some experience working for a law firm and did some work with the UN just took his BAR exam last july without much trouble at all.
A friend in Pennysl.... , has an LL B from Africa She is asked to take about 24hrs credit(whatever that means i dont know sorry)i guess she meant extra, or needed credits?!? if not brushing up.....then she can take the BAR exam. So i guess i want to say it is not impossible, but depending on what state or at what capacity you want to practice, my belief is you can be what you wanna be. My advice is be certain of what you really want, research and enquire every little detail from reliable sources and i mean really seriously to avoid dissapointments and also loosing your time in the future unnecessarily.
If you think i could be of any help, just ask.

 
At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Leo said...

Could anybody advise me of the UK postgraduate qualifying degrees?

 
At 5:57 PM, Anonymous JJ said...

My friend who graduated from the Moscow State University and Sorbonne, now reads for BCL/LLB at McGill. He is disappointed with the level of teaching and general entry level of students.

 
At 11:06 PM, Anonymous 1MoreLawyer said...

Hi Everybody
I'm a lawyer from Argentina, recently relocated to the US due to marriage.
Our system is like most of the european ones. You enter Law School directly after High School. Some private universities ask for a semester of classes and an exam in order to be admitted and after that LAW SCHOOL is 6 (SIX) years. Most courses are anual. There are some that can be done in a semester, but they are the least.
Argentina like many other countries doesn't have a Common Law System but a Coded Legislation. Those codes are ancient and have been modified several times only partially by laws that were created in order to update them. The system is messy and complicated and there is constant going a back and forth to the code and its modifying new rules. Maybe that is one of the reason why it taes long to get a law degree. Courses cover a lot and whatever is complicated it is always hard to remember. Exams are oral in front of a panel of three professors.
Now, I have been told that I need to atend an LLM course and take an exam to apply for admittance to the Florida Bar. Is this correct?
I was told that since I am a foreign lawyer I can legally us JD after my name. Is this correct too?
Thanks for your inut in advance, much appreciated...still a bit lost here.
Onemeorelawyer

 
At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Prospective Lawyer - Law Student said...

@1MoreLawyer - Yes you are required to take LLM to qualify for practicing Law - however this need not always be necessary - Check the California Bar (sure you asked about the Florida Bar but I am just giving an example) they are OK with Foreign Lawyers provided they meet their requirements to write the Bar Exam.

As far as the J.D. goes I don't think so(not sure)

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger Jade said...

Hi All,

I'm hoping that some of you might be able to give me some advice or at least an opinion. I am planning on being actively and professionaly involved in the field of human rights, sustainable development for third world countries and government one day and am considering obtaining a law degree to help me achieve this.

What would you guys suggest? A JD or LLB? I have completed a three year degree in Theology - can I use this to enter into either of the programs?

Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

 
At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a US citizen planning to do my BA LLB at NLSIU, Bangalore (India). This is a 5-year degree right after high school. My ultimate goal is to practice in the US. I was wondering if it makes sense to enroll in a JD program at a US school after getting my BA LLB from India. In a sense, my BA-LLB from India would be the baseline 4-yr undergrad degree that most US school require of the JD applicants. I realize that it takes one extra year (5 years for BA LLB + 3 years for JD) but I feel that JD is a high-value credential and will erase the restrictions caused by a foreign degree like the LLB. Besides, India is so much cheaper than the US that the net cost of education will be a lot lower. Does anyone have any recommendations, suggestions, or additional insights? Does my plan make sense? Do law school look favorably upon applicants who have a BA LLB but want to go in for a JD?

 
At 9:50 AM, Blogger a blawger said...

Dear Anonymous in India,

I have looked into aspects of your query and I may be able to offer some insight. First, you should note that every US law school has its own admissions standards and requirements so any advice on getting into to every US school should be taken with a grain of salt. Second, what you described is the general practice. Indians get their BA/LLB and then come to the US and do the JD. That is the norm. As you say, I think they do that because it is so much cheaper. My one piece of insight may be that you focus on great LSAT scores. Again, depending on what school you're interested in, your LSAT is key.

On a related topic, the process above would be similar in Canada, except easier. Indians, and all other foreign nationals, apply through a national accreditation organization in Ottawa and they decide how much credit to give based on the previous work. A friend of mine with a law degree from Albania had to do 2 years. Another friend with a law degree from Argentina and he got no credit.

 
At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear blawger,

Your insights confirm my intuitive opinion and are much appreciated.

My big hope (and prayer) is that US law schools will look favorably upon a JD applicant who already holds an LLB. And you're right, the LSAT score is key to make them want to look at you. I wonder if my LLB will help me in any meaningful way to do well on the LSAT.

Another concern: Establishing the equivalence of foreign degrees is usually quite a pain. Do you know anyone who has successfully gotten into a JD program after doing LLB in India (or elsewhere)?

 
At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous in India,

The NLSIU is the premier law institute in India. You will find, that the competition is cut throat, and the standard of persons attending is extremely high.

Ive had several friends from NLSIU, carry on to Harvard and Yale for their LLM's and who are currently practicing in NYC. If you are interested, do some research and contact other alums in the USA.

Do not underestimate NLSIU as being simply a cheap place to do a degree, or you will find yourself frustrated. Do some research before applying.

 
At 8:30 PM, Blogger shanecrawford said...

Lets be real both LLB's and JD's all around the common law world are undergraduate degrees ... It's not the entry requirements that should be the distinction but the subject matter! An LLM is a higher qualification than a JD!

 
At 4:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The LLM maybe the Master's level degree offered in many USA Law Schools, only I would not go as far as saying that it is superior, for the LLM on its own cannot qualify a graduate to even take the bars in the USA. You need a JD. Consider the BCL - Bachelor of Civil Law offered at Oxford University, where it carries the weight of a Masters level. What is in a name as long as your degree choice, acceptance into the school and degree completion is attained ushering you into the destiny you have chartered for yourself.

To the individual who is planning to take the UK LLB - consider the fact that in order for you to practice Law in the USA, you need 3yrs of physically studying Law in the USA prior to taking the bars. Oftentimes, in the case of NY the LLB might be accepted as it is a degree taught with emphasis on English Common Law. Look up: New York:Section 520.6 of the New York Rules of the Courts of Appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law.

Consider the Double Degree courses offered by London University - UCL, Kings & LSE with Columbia University & University of Southern California; National University of Sigapore with NYU; University of Alberta and University of Colorado ...For the UK and Singapore it rounds off to a 4yr completion period and 3yrs for the Canada 3yrs completion with both degrees achieved. Covers the USA 3 yrs requirement and avails the option of using the LLB later in your life whereupon you may consider taking the British Bars examinations. Variety.

I too am in agreement with posters who've committed that there are slight variations to electives offered in the LLB courses and JD with similar core courses, if not exactly the same with variations of emphasis on legal systems naturally. :)

I think the core reason many UK LLB grads aren't finding placement in the USA, is directed to their lack of a JD for the bars and the USA 3yr taught US Law Studies rule.

 
At 1:10 AM, Blogger mgm-chicago said...

Can anyone please give me some insight.

I am graduate of LLB from the philippines. Under our education system a four year bachelor undergraduate degree is a requisite before you can enter LLB which is another four year degree.

I have my education credentials evaluated by WES and it recognized by Bachelor degree (AB-political science)and my LLB as "four year of professional study in law at a regionally accredited institution".

Since i need a JD (or at least more credit hours and course to complete JD)to qualify for the BAR exam, my question is, Do i still need to take the LSAT to be admitted to law school?

Any insight will be highly appreciated? thanks.

 
At 5:20 AM, Blogger BasiaBernstein said...

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At 3:30 AM, Blogger smith said...

Certain aspects of law school are similar for all students, but, like every graduate program, law school requires non-traditional students to think about additional considerations such as family and full-time employment on top of academic components.

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At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have acquired an llb, and a jd right afterwards and here is my 2 cents: JD was easier than the LLB. However, you need either (or both) for different reasons (i.e. becoming a lawyer in the states, or becoming one anywhere else). I think that here in the states, the J.D. has been implemented as it simply generates more money for privatized universities, whereas the L.L.B., which is obviously only offered anywhere outside of the U.S., it is offered for the purpose of educating the student critically and academically. If you where the dean of an american graduate school,of course it would be more favourable to put students through a three year program running at 50.000 dollars a year to fork in the cash, where as in many european countries, and Canada I believe, the social government makes the tax payer pay for the student for the the countries general welfare, and hence being more in a advantage of the overal population. J.D. spells competition... whereas an L.L.B. spells social welfare. Do you see the underlying capitalist and social trends of there two different degrees? If it would be possible, I would have liked to do the JD right out of highschool... who needs a major in political science/history/eng.lit/or any other liberal arts waist of time for that matter in order to study law (and generating 50 - if-not 100.000's of thousands of student debt only to take out more in order to go to graduate school? All you need to be able to do is to be able to read very well, think critically and logically (and have a passion or drive to make a lot of money). It would save huge amounts of student debts.

 
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