To JD or not to JD

In most Commonwealth countries the designation for lawyers is LL.B., for Bachelor of Laws.

The University of Toronto breaks ranks with Canadian law schools, issuing a J.D., or Juris Doctor to its graduates. The J.D. designation is used in American law schools.

However, the UofT J.D. is not recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA), and the designation serves little more than a symbolic function. The distinction, argued by UofT, is that most law students these days already have an undergraduate education (unlike many Commonwealth LL.B. nations), and the J.D. designation better reflects this background. Traditionalists have proclaimed that the LL.B. speaks to a long legacy in Canada that should not be so easily discarded.

Finally, it seems as if other Canadian universities may follow suit.

Recently, Queen’s University did an informal poll on which designation the students preferred. The student body overwhelmingly preferred the JD over the LL.B.

JD versus LLB
Which letters are for you?
JD man. It’s progress. 58.2% 107
I want an LLB. Let’s stick with tradition! 25% 46
Whichever. The degree’s the same. 16.8% 31

Queen’s Law Life has a summary of some of the pros and cons of each designation.

The Globe and Mail is expected to do an article on this subject in tomorrow’s paper.

There are rumblings among other schools of similar considerations, which have yet to be formally announced.


The Globe story can be found here. See the comments as well for the ongoing conversation on the issue.

The complete report issued by Queen’s Faculty Board is available here.

The University of Western Ontario also had a similar referendum demonstrating overwhelming student support for the J.D. and the issue is now under review by the Programs Committee and Faculty Council.

Queen’s University and the University of British Columbia recently passed motions to adopt the change. Osgoode (York) and the universities of Windsor and Ottawa are also looking into making changes.