Hear Ye! Since 1998.
Please note: This post is at least 3 years old. Links may be broken, information may be out of date, and the views expressed in the post may no longer be held.
Feb 04

Law Degrees Around the World

Looks like getting an undergrad law degree in different parts of the world is slightly different from others. I did a bit of research…

In England
Available as an undergraduate course as a Bachelor of Laws, abbreviated to LLB (Legum Baccalaureus, where LL signifies the plural form). In Oxford and Cambridge, it appears a BA in Law is awarded instead.

Postgraduate courses are not required to practise law. The typical postgraduate law degree is the Master of Laws, abbreviated to LLM (Legum Magister). Oxford awards a BCL (Bachelor of Civil Law), which, despite its title, is a postgraduate degree and covers Common Law.

In the US
Law is a graduate course, meaning for US residents, a four-year undergraduate degree (typically a BA or BS) must be obtained before entrance into a three year law school is granted. While an LLB is occasionally awarded to law school graduates, the more common degree awarded by US universities is a Doctor of Law, abbreviated to JD (Juris Doctor). It is a professional “doctorate” which is similar to the MD that medical doctors use. Lawyers do not use “Doctor” as a title, of course, but “Esq” is sometimes used by the pretentious.

Foreigners holding a Bachelor’s degree from a common law jurisdiction are usually required to study for an LLM degree in the US before they can practise law there.

In Australia
Law, like the US, is also a graduate course, meaning that all law students must hold another degree first. The slight difference is that enrolment to law school can be granted as long as a student also enrols in another degree (such as a BSc, BCom, BE, etc.) simultaneously. This is called a Combined Law course. The first three years are spent completing the first degree (or four years, if honours is undertaken). Interspersed among those three or four years are the first year’s worth of law courses. Once the first degree is obtained, the student then goes on to complete the law degree over the next two years. In effect, a combined law degree compresses the two degrees and reduces the total time for completion by a year. Like the US, graduate entry is also available for those already holding an undergraduate degree.

Monash University in Victoria has started to offer US-style JD degrees.

[Update: The ANU does have a standalone LLB program that takes four years to complete – see comments for more details. UTS also has one, so it looks like the entry requirements are set on a per university basis.]

In Civil Law countries
A Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) is given in civil law jurisdictions to university law graduates. It is a bachelor’s degree and it is not necessary for the candidate to have another degree before obtaining the BCL. This allows, with some extra training, someone to become a lawyer, or train to become a judge.

Law Doctorates
Normally either called a PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy) in Law, or an SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science).