Monday, February 27, 2006

UBC Students Vote for J.D.

UBC students recently had a vote to change to the J.D. From a discussion board on

The law students at UBC voted strongly in favour of changing the degree to JD.

This is at least the second time UBC has considered switching. A blawger from UBC (his website has since been passed to a student at Western) wrote back in October of 2002:

Currently there is a curriculum review here at UBC law. Inevitably this will contain some discussion on the continuing debate of whether UBC, and by extension other Canadian law schools, should issue the LLB degree upon completion of law school, or the JD degree. This debate has largely been heightened by the U of T's decision to offer the option to students to receive a JD upon completion of law school.
A nice history of how the American schools switched from the LL.B. to the J.D. is available from the University of Miami. An excerpt:
Although by the early 1960's the structure and organization of legal education had evolved to a relatively consistent three years of graduate level work, protest against the J.D. , a change which both proponents and opponents labeled semantic, persisted. Eventually the number of schools offering the J.D. produced a groundswell strong enough to withstand the vocal and in some instances derisive opposition as well as the resistance of what law faculty termed the "leading" institutions. As the benefits of joining the ranks of the professional schools convinced students, faculty and alumni, many of whom sought retroactive degrees, the J.D. prevailed.

The precedent of the shift from the LL.B. to the J.D. illuminates the manner in which academic controversy stalls movement for years, even when the change is nominal. The J.D. may or may not be responsible for the clarity of law's professional status, its parity with medicine, or its preeminent position in many universities and in the professional world. The Occupational Outlook Handbook of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, lists starting salaries for law graduates in 1993 averaging $37,000. with some starting salaries at $80,000 (Fullerton 1996,9). Despite an elite status, law school has become more inclusive; the participation of women has grown from 4% of the student body in 1967 to 43% in 1995 (ABA,1995,67). There obviously are many factors which account for the ascendancy of the legal profession and no study examines the status of the profession before and after the adoption of the J.D. to determine the effect of the degree. What can be seen, however is that most of the predictions put forward by J.D. proponents have become reality, while the concerns of the opponents seem insignificant in retrospect.

More details about the vote at UBC Law to come...


At 2:08 AM, Anonymous grass said...

Hi - i guess you got the results from someone else but we weren't given precise numbers. There is Dean's Townhall later this week and I imagine we will get more answers there. At a previous townhall, she said that she was in favour of the switch, but that the faculty didn't have enough interest or support. That has clearly changed. Should be interesting times. Personally I support it because I think it better reflects the graduate nature of the degree, making us eligible for graduate funding (have to admit, haven't done much research on how much that is) and b/c there are certain jobs, e.g. government, U.N. that require graduate degrees, and LLBs don't count. Strangely, I have not heard much about either of these two reasons in the UBC debate (e.g. the Legal Eye - )


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