Tuesday, January 27, 2009

LL.B. or J.D. – Which is better?

Following the emerging trend of Canadian law schools making a switch from the LL.B. to J.D. degree designations the York University’s Senate has approved a change in Osgoode Hall Law School’s law degree designation from Bachelor of Laws (LLB) to Juris Doctor (JD).

According to a York University press release, the new designation will come into effect with graduating class of 2009 and will also apply retroactively to alumni who choose to convert their degree. Students can however opt out of the change and receive an LLB rather than a JD.

The primary reason for the switch appears to be a feeling amongst the student community that the move will make the degrees more attractive in the international legal marketplace. However experts believe that the switch may not make any difference on international hiring as the firms who hire internationally are global firms who hire graduates from different countries, and regardless of the degree designation they know just what they're getting.

Whether the switch will make a difference in international marketability or not the new designation is at least easier to say and remember. Not many people know what LL. B. actually stands for.

- Shashi K. Raina, Toronto

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Werner Patels said...

But even fewer know what JD stands for.

I have always opposed this Americanization of our legal profession. We are grounded in the common law traditions of the United Kingdom, rather than those of the U.S.

There's also the issue of different programs of varying lengths to consider. Most LLB programs in Britain take 3 years (there are also 2-year LLB programs).

Most JDs in the U.S. require 4 years, so if a 3-year LLB is suddenly converted to JD, I think we'll hear complaints from the ABA pretty soon -- about diluting the "brand" so to speak ...

Anonymous said...

The statement above about the JD programs in the US being four years long is incorrect. I live in the US and I am currently pursuing my undergraduate degree with the intentions of going straight to law school afterwards and have done quite a bit of research in addition to having family members who have JD's. The normal time it takes to complete a JD in the US is 3 years, not 4. When students take longer it is usually because they are in school part time.
Also, I was born in Maryland but raised for 16 years in the Caribbean where we are heavily influenced by British culture and, in fact, model a considerable amount of our cultural norms and practices off of Britain, in addition to having very similar laws and systems as they do. So, in essence, we are a product of Britain. In light of this, I sympathize with the above posters statement about his concern that the law program is being Americanized. Although I am not familiar with Canada particularly, too many times have I seen school programs and the like altered in order to coincide with the more American version and sort of shift away from the British influence that the original colonies of Britain have been accustomed to for centuries. This is a rather unfavorable practice and, although there is no evidence that this was the intention of the school, I would hope their intent was not to decrease the traditional British influence on their law program.