Juris Doctor (J.D. or JD, from the Latin, Teacher of Law) is a law degree that initially appeared in the United States during the 1960s. This "new" law degree was designed as a replacement or option to its academic equivalent, the LLB or Bachelor of Laws degree. The degree quickly earned popularity as it afforded the holder the professional recognition of a doctoral degree in law.
This professional degree generally earned after three years of full-time (four years of part-time) study after earning a bachelor's degree, in the United States, Japan, and an increasing number of other countries. One of the most important purposes of the degree is to provide the professional training for those who wish to become lawyers. The J.D. is the degree required for admission to the bar in nearly all U.S. states and territorial jurisdictions.
The professional law degree in many nations, outside of the United States, with legal systems based on the common law is usually still the LL.B., or Bachelor of Laws degree, though some law schools in Australia, Canada and Hong Kong have renamed or changed LL.B. to J.D., or offer both J.D. and LL.B. Since 2004, the J.D. degree is awarded in Japan, where it is known as Homu Hakushi. The Japanese J.D. degree is not a necessary prerequisite to become an attorney at law in Japan.
However, the official word, according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, the Juris Doctor is “a degree equivalent to bachelor of laws”.
The J.D. in the United StatesPrerequisites for a J.D.
No particular undergraduate major or course of study is required for admission, and many law schools prefer that students arrive as a tabula rasa as far as legal subjects and preconceptions are interested.
In many law schools, as a requirement of admission to a J.D., candidate usually must have obtained a baccalaureate degree, which may usually be in any topic. One's undergraduate grades and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score are usually considered the primary determinates for admission. However, many law schools sometimes consider other factors such as life experiences, work history, undergraduate extracurricular activities, and writing skill in addition to grades and LSAT scores when determining whether to admit a candidate.
Some law schools have merged baccalaureate/J.D. programs that permit students to enter the J.D. program prior to conclusion of the bachelor's degree, thereby allowing the student to obtain the B.A. (or B.S.) and J.D. within a merged 6-year period during which the student must satisfy the usual credit hours for each degree. Others have merged J.D. programs with other graduate degrees.
Length of Study
The course of study generally takes three years for full-time students and four years for part-time students. The American Bar Association previously required at least 36 and no more than 84 months of study for a school to receive approval. Beginning in 2005, the ABA rectified the rules to allow as few as 24 months of study; though the total amount of lessons required was unaltered. The ABA does not assign a precise number of credit hours for graduation. Instead, it assigns the number of minutes of lessons each student must obtain. Now, schools with ABA accreditation must need that graduating students have completed 58,000 minutes of lessons time during their course of study. According to the ABA, this normally translates to 83 semester hours or 129 quarter hours.
Career opportunitiesCurrent career development
Students seeking to increase their career alternatives within their current positions will find that being a Juris Doctor graduate opens doors to a wider variety of professional opportunities where legal qualifications are sought or required.
As a conversion program, the JD offers graduates the occasion to change their
Career direction and enter the legal profession by adding a fully accredited legal qualification to their undergraduate qualifications.