The JD Degree
The Juris Doctor (JD) degree is required to practice law in the United States. It is considered the first degree in law. The JD degree is offered by American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law schools, by law schools that are not ABA-approved, and by many Canadian law schools.
- A bachelor’s degree is required for admission into a JD program.
- The LSAT is an integral part of the law school admission process in the United States, Canada, and a growing number of other countries.
- The JD program is generally a three-year, full-time academic program.
- All US states accept graduation from an ABA-approved law school as meeting that state’s education requirement for eligibility to sit for the bar examination.
The LLM Degree
The Master of Laws (LLM) degree is considered an advanced law certification that has global credibility. LLM programs offered by US and Canadian law schools are desirable for international students who wish to gain global credentials and for JD graduates who desire advanced legal study.
- A first degree in law is required for admission into an LLM program.
- It is not necessary to take the LSAT to apply for an LLM program.
- Most LLM programs do require an English proficiency test score for international applicants whose native language is not English.
- The LLM program is generally a one-year, full-time academic program.
- Earning an LLM degree does not qualify international lawyers to sit for the bar exam of every US state or Canadian province.
In other countries, Bachelor of Laws degree programs (LL.B.) are the most common types of law degrees although some law schools in Canada, Hong Kong, and Australia offer both J.J. and LL.B types of law degrees. In countries such as Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland, the Candidate of Law is given by law schools to jurists who have passed the law exam after five years of study.(3) The Candidate of Law degree is comparable to the Master of Laws degree in the US and Europe.
Law graduates who want to pursue advanced studies usually enroll in law schools with Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree programs. Master of Laws degree programs allow lawyers to specialize in a particular field of law. The highest law degree is the JSD or SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) which is equivalent to the Doctorate of Philosophy in Law (PhD or DPhil in the United Kingdom). Many law schools require lawyers to finish a LL.M. law degree program before being admitted to a JSD program. (4)