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Difference Between L.L.B and JD

L.L.B vs JD

There has been a never-ending debate among lawyers and aspiring lawyers alike on matters of J.D. and L.L.B. These are basic terms found in the law school bible. The former pertains to Juris Doctor or Doctorate of Jurisprudence and the latter, to Bachelor of Laws. They are similar in the sense that they are both considered as first-level law degree and can qualify as pre-requisites to higher law degrees such as Master of Laws or L.L.M. and J.S.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science. The debate, however, centers on which of the two titles is more appropriate to a law degree. Many think that naming a law degree as a ‘bachelor’s’ degree does not do it justice. Let’s verify this by delving on what makes JD different from LLB.

First, JD is a professional graduate degree and professional doctorate in law that was first awarded in Harvard University in the 1960s. It was designed to serve as replacement to its academic equivalent, the LLB.  While it is technically a doctor’s degree, recipients are not addressed as ‘Doctors’. Such title can be earned by leveling to more advanced law degrees like JSD. Moreover, it is the only law degree that has a goal of being the primary professional preparation for lawyers and the only professional degree in law particularly in the United States. It is a three year program with varying curriculum and teaching methods from school to school. JD is believed to be more comprehensive, providing its graduates with a more competitive grasp on the field of law.

As part of the standard curriculum, it involves an intensive study of the substantive law and its professional applications intended to prepare practitioners through a scientific approach of analyzing and teaching the law through logic and adversarial analysis akin to Casebook and Socratic methods. Methods to it are mostly practical, considering the degree as the professional training for entry into practice.  The program requires a bachelor’s degree for entry and takes three academic years of full time study. Technically, the United States is the only jurisdiction with this form of a J.D., but the University of Tokyo (in Japan) and the University of Melbourne (in Australia) are attempting to follow this model closely. Countries outside the U.S., like Canada, Hong Kong and the Philippines also implement the JD, with differences in curriculum, duration of years and post-requisites (i.e. thesis and further studies to achieve license).

LLB, conversely, is an undergraduate, or bachelor, degree in law (or a first professional degree in law, depending on jurisdiction) originating in England. It was the benchmark law degree for all common law countries, including the U.S. until its reform in the 1960’s. Unlike JD, it is more academic and traditional in nature. Being established as a liberal arts degree, the curriculum is highly academic and traditional, requiring the student to undertake a certain amount of study of the classics. Given that, the recipient may require further accreditation before entering practice, depending on the country. Nevertheless, post-requisites may not apply in countries where the LLB is earned as a post-graduate degree. In most common law countries (except for Canada, the United States, England and Wales) like Australia and Malaysia, LLB can be entered immediately after completion of secondary school and may take 5 to 7 years of fulltime study.


1) LLB has been the benchmark first-level law degree for most common law countries and uses a traditional academic approach. JD is derived from LLB, but instead takes a practical teaching method.

2) In some countries, LLB can be entered directly after secondary school. JD, on the other hand, always requires a Bachelor’s degree prior to it.

3) Both degrees are pre-requisites to professional practice of law or to more-advanced degrees in the same field.

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