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Difference Between J.D. and LLB

J.D. vs LLB

There is some confusion regarding law degrees most especially that different titles are given to law graduates like the J.D., LLB and LLM. The only problem is that the meanings of these titles are not always the same when one is comparing a certain title to the same title in another jurisdiction or place. For example, a J.D. has already replaced the traditional LLB in some countries whereas in other locations the J.D. still coexists with the LLB. So what’s a J.D. and how different is it from an L.L.B?

Historically speaking, LLB is the first law degree one can possibly get. It is the same as Bachelor of Laws or Legum Baccalaueus. This has been the common title given to somebody who has graduated or completed the law course or standard law program. The LLB actually originated in England. The LLM, otherwise known as Master of Laws, is the one taken after LLB completion.

In most countries having the LLB degree, this is treated as a scholarly program wherein additional trainings or education units are first required for the law graduate to be able to practice law. It is an undergraduate course with respect to the overall law program because it is a Bachelors degree but actually it is already a graduate program, like a Masters degree, in the sense that a prior university level of college education is usually required for admission into LLB.

However, the system has been changed particularly in the U.S. that’s why the first degree earned by a law graduate is a J.D., known as Juris Doctor. Still, one needs to have the J.D. to be admitted an L.L.M. that is if one doesn’t have any LLB earned outside the U.S. Most countries still use the LLB title although other jurisdictions like the Philippines for example, has both.

The J.D. is usually taken in a span of 3 years in the U.S. and Canada although it is more common in the former than in other countries. It is the first degree that serves as the primary preparation for lawyers in America. A thesis is not a requisite for a J.D. Also, it was only until the year 1997 when this degree has also been made available in other countries but there are some distinctions or different characteristics with their own versions as opposed to the original J.D. in America.

Thus, earning the J.D. and LLB is just a matter of taking the same degree but become different depending on where you obtained that degree.


1. The J.D. is more common in the U.S., which no longer confers the LLB degree
2. The LLB is widely offered in many other law practicing countries except the U.S.
3. The J.D. is a title given after the completion of a 3-year law course whereas most LLBs take 4 years to complete.

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  1. Well, there appears to be quite a difference once you apply to advance law programs in other countries. In one country, the LLB lets you into the LLD program without taking additional credit courses if you received your LLB degree prior to 1986. Earlier LLB degrees are viewed as 4 year degrees compared to LLB degrees obtained after 1986. All I had to do is write a dissertation withou taking additional courses. I also have Doctorate in Business. It may have contributed to my not having to take more courses.

  2. Thanks a lot, I now get the difference.

    • I beg to differ from the views of the writer. While the JD program applies more in the US and Canada, it can be seen as a Professional Doctorate with more intensity in professional practice than research as you find in PhD programs. There is no way you can equate LLB (with entry level requirement of Ordinary Level Certificate) to a JD program that require a Bachelors degree as entry point requirement. Secondly in all law schools, JD courses are graduate level courses and are often taken together or jointly with students offering PhD courses in Law. Course codes for LLB courses range from 100 to 400, while JD programs course codes range from 500 to 900, (the same with PhD course codes). Conclusively, while LLB is a first degree in Law, in some jurisdictions it is an entry requirement for a JD program! This means that the JD degree is a professional doctorate just like, MD, EngD, PsyD, DSc, etc. The JD is never equal to the LLB in program and curriculum content. Thirdly, while the JD is a terminal graduate degree, LLB is an undergraduate degree with the same entry requirement as any other undergraduate degree program. While most law school professors in USA and Canada has JD as their only degree for teaching positions and promotion to the rank of full Professors, the same can not be said of LLB programs in common law jurisdictions such as the UK. These differences are clear.

  3. This is incorrect, in the U.K. a first degree is not required for entrance to the LLB, unless it is a fast-track accelerated LLB for those with a first degree in another subject. Also, the LLB is purely theoretical and academic, with no practical litigation or drafting, for example. The practical elements are taught after the LLB, on the LPC (England) or the DPLP (Scotland). Conversely, the JD includes practical AND theoretical throughout the degree, which is why JD graduates are able to enter the workforce without a post-grad course.

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