The Juris Doctor degree or Doctor of Jurisprudence degree is a professional degree which is equivalent to Bachelor of Laws in countries like Canada, United States, Australia and some other common law countries. It is generally a three or four year full time academic program that prepares students to become professional Lawyers and to be authorised to practice Law in Courts.
The degree requires students to show a capacity to handle challenges, with a good record of academic success and willingness to study law. This type of degree is for the students who are interested in pursuing their career as attorneys, counsellors or other legal advisors. It is offered by the American Bar Association (ABA) approved law schools, non-ABA approved law schools and some Canadian Law schools. The Juris Doctorate Degree was introduced in the 19th century to improve the quality of education and has slowly been implemented outside the United States, recently.
Till now, U.S. is the only nation which does not require further training for licence. Rest of the countries such as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, etc. do require further studies for becoming a professional lawyer. The Juris doctor (JD) degree is equivalent to Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in most countries and is often confused with the Masters of Law (LLM) degree. The main difference is that JD degree is a first degree in law and LLM degree is an advanced law certification that has a global credibility. Usually JD degree or first degree is compulsory for taking admission in most LLM programs.
Juris Doctor Degree is divided into various categories depending on the type of course the students want to choose. Some of these are:
- Administrative Law Studies
- Business Law Studies
- Civil Law Studies
- Criminal Law Studies
- Dispute Resolution Studies
- Economic Law Studies
- International Law Studies
- Law Studies
- National Law Studies
The Bachelor’s of Law is an advanced degree program which is usually undertaken by students who wish to qualify for the bar exam in the United States or pursue the Masters of Law. Usually Law schools offer a three or a four year JD program but some of the schools offering a two year Juris Doctorate program are Brooklyn Law School, Drexel University and Pepperdine University. If you want to pursue a Juris Doctor Degree outside the United States, you first need to give the bar examination in the US, gain a minimum experience of two years inside US and then you will be eligible to pursue higher education in foreign universities on the basis of your Juris Doctor Degree.
Juris Doctor Graduates can practice law in a given U.S. state after passing a compulsory bar examination. Some of the universities that offer Juris Doctorate Degree in the US are:
- Brooklyn Law School
- University at Buffalo School of Law, Buffalo
- Albany Law School
- Yale School of Management
- Grand Valley State University
- Florida state University, The college of Business, Florida
- Harvard University
- University of Cambridge
- Oxford University
- University of Chicago
The universities offering Juris Doctorate Degree outside the US are:
- Australian National University, Australia
- Bond University, Australia
- Melbourne Law School, Australia
- The University of New South Wales, Australia
- Singapore Management University, Singapore
- Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar
- Peking University School of Transnational Law, China
- University of British Columbia, Canada
- Queen’s University, Canada
- University of Alberta, Canada
- University of Toronto, Canada
- The Chinese University of Hong Kong
- The University of Hong Kong
- City University of Hong Kong
The average university fee for Juris Doctorate program depends on the Law school and the living expenses. The average cost can be in the range of $200,000 to $250,000. Top Law schools generally charge $50,000- $60,000 tuition fee per year for a three year program.
The practitioners are taught through a scientific approach of analyzing through logical analysis and requires at least three academic years for study. The program generally requires a bachelor’s degree, though it can be waived by certain colleges or universities. The students will be taught about constitutional laws, Professional responsibilities, community property, electronic legal research, legal analysis, criminal and civil procedures, estates, corporations, properties, etc. during the duration of the course. The students master in the core subjects during their first and second year and in the third or fourth year, the students specialize into the particular fields or tracks and translate their knowledge into skills by spending ample time in law firms, government agencies, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), etc.
The salary which a Juris Doctor Graduate gets depends on the Job title, skills, experience and their education. The average salary of a graduate after finishing law school is $130,880. The top 25 percent of lawyers earned around $168,010 or more and the lowest 25 percent paying earned around $74,880 with the bottom 10 percent making less than $55,000 per year. The highest package of professional JD graduates was around $241,870 per annum. The following relation between job experience and the salary is as follows:
- 0-5 years: $70,000
- 5-10 years: $98,000
- 10-20 years: $119,000
- 20 years: $139,000
Juris Doctor and executive Juris Doctor: What’s the difference?
The main difference between a Juris Doctor Degree and an Executive Juris Doctor Degree is that the JD degree prepares you to take the bar examination whereas, the Executive Juris Doctor (EJD) degree is a professional law degree which is particularly for the students who have an interest in law but do not want to actually practice law. The program can be completed in a given time of three years.
Requirements for admission:
- A three year bachelor’s degree is required for admission into a Juris Doctor program.
- Work experience and skills
- Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
There are a lot of job options available for the JD graduates in various fields. Some of the top jobs are:
- Law Assistant
- Manager of Data Entry Operations
- Institutional Equity Investigator
- Strategic Customer Engagement
- Hearing officers
- Assistant General Counsellor
- Legal advisors
- Contracts Director
- Regional directors
- Private Law firms
A law degree is usually confined towards becoming a lawyer or working in a law firm, but Juris Doctorate degree can open a lot of employment opportunities for JD graduates such as becoming a law librarian, working as a law consultant, becoming a journalist or a manager, etc. the people who have an interest in studying law but are not certain if they want to become a lawyer can opt for a Juris Doctor Course.
Some of the common JD degree pathways are:
- Law Librarianship: The main purpose of a law librarian is to manage the law firm’s library and to perform research work. In the US, librarians generally hold a master’s degree. Having a Juris Doctorate Degree is not the only requirement but becoming a law librarian requires them to have a higher faculty status. The average salary which a librarian holds is $58,520.
- Consultants: Some of the JD degree holders move to the consulting direction. There is a wide scope in freelancing and in many law consultancy firms. The graduates guide a wide variety of people like executives and business persons by providing their legal knowledge on a contract basis. The salary or compensation may vary depending upon the complexity and duration of the case.
- Lawyer: A lawyer requires knowledge to perform legal services and solve specific problems in the areas of criminal justice or civil law. The role of lawyers is to prosecute the accused criminals or defend them in court. There are lots of cases which lawyers handle like real estate conflicts, family disputes, negotiations or business issues. The average salary ranges from $70,000 p.a. to $135,000 p.a.
- Journalism: Individuals who have a strong command in writing skills, editing and research work, may be able to develop a career in Journalism. The average annual salary of reporters and correspondents in the year 2017 was $39,300.
- Judge or a hearing officer: Juris Doctor Graduates have an option to either become a judge or a hearing officer. A Judge typically oversees criminal cases and usually sits in courtrooms. Hearing officers are also known as administrative law judges. They hear and solve cases which involve regulatory issues and administrative disputes. The average wage for a Judge or a hearing officer as of May, 2017 was $94,790 and $133,840 for magistrates, magistrate judges and judges.
- Mediators: Whenever the parties want to opt for an out of court settlement, mediators help in resolving their issues. They are neutral parties which try to resolve issues without going to the court, thereby avoiding the long procedures and huge amount of money spent. Child custody issues, landlord tenant law, property issues, etc. are usually solved by the mediators. The annual salary for mediators as on May 2017 was $60,670.
A Juris Doctor Degree equips the students with necessary skills required to be successful in the field of law and the students can succeed in their chosen field with necessary knowledge and experience.