LLM vs JD: Which Law Degree is Right for International Lawyers? : University of Dayton, Ohio
International lawyers considering a law-related career in the United States (or abroad involving areas of US law) have several options for degree programs. Although most international lawyers ultimately decide between an LL.M. degree or a JD, it is important to first understand all of the law degrees available and the benefits of each. Some programs lead to careers as practicing lawyers (LL.M. or JD), while others lead to academic careers (JD, LL.M. or SJD) or law-related careers in demanding but not professional (MLS, MSL, JM).
The seven most common legal degrees are:
- Juris Doctor (JD)
- Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.)
- Master of Laws (LL.M.)
- Doctor of Legal Sciences (SJD)
- Juris Master (JM)
- Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
- Master of Laws (MSL)
The right choice depends on the student’s career goals, the level of legal education the student currently has, and where in the United States the student wishes to work. Because the United States legal market spans 51 separate jurisdictions, educational requirements for practicing attorneys vary by region.
Juris Doctor (JD)
A Juris Doctor (JD) is a professional graduate degree awarded by law schools in the United States. This is the premier law degree for American students interested in practicing law. Students pursuing a JD must successfully complete three years of study in basic legal subjects such as constitutional law, contract law, criminal law, civil procedure, property law, negligence and product liability ( torts), legal research and writing. Students also take specialized elective courses in advanced legal topics such as legal ethics, intellectual property law, antitrust and competition law, securities regulation, tax law, and governing laws. the conduct of business entities.
Some law schools offer courses in subjects specifically related to the practice of law, such as negotiation, trial and appellate advocacy, and legal technology. They also provide opportunities for clinical and experiential learning.
Possession of a JD degree from an American Bar Association-accredited law school is a requirement to practice law in most states in the United States.
Preconditions: Bachelor’s degree from a U.S. or foreign undergraduate program; Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) result; letter of recommendation.
Acquisition period: Two-three years
Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.)
The Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) is an undergraduate law degree offered at universities around the world and is considered the first law degree in many countries. The LL.B. is not offered at universities in the United States, having been eliminated in favor of the Juris Doctor (JD) degree.
In limited cases, international students who have completed LL.B. degree programs outside the United States may be eligible to take the bar exam in certain United States jurisdictions. Successful completion of an LL.M. program, as described in the next section, greatly expands bar eligibility options. This is especially true for recent law school graduates and/or graduates from civil law jurisdictions.
Preconditions: Completion of degree requirements at an accredited secondary school.
Acquisition period: three to five years
Master of Laws (LL.M.)
The Master of Laws (LL.M.) is a graduate degree in law offering students the opportunity to obtain advanced legal training in specialized areas of law. For students with a JD from a U.S. law school, the LL.M. degree is often a pathway to an academic career or to pursuing careers in areas of legal practice that require high levels of expertise. such as antitrust, tax or environmental law.
For international students who already have an LL.B. degree, acquiring an LL.M. degree in U.S. or cross-border law is often sought as a way to practice law in the United States or advise clients (abroad ) on US laws. Some LL.M. programs, such as the online LL.M. in American and Transnational Law offered by the University of Dayton – are specifically designed with a bar-focused curriculum to align with specific state bar exam requirements. Additionally, asynchronous online LL.M. programs, such as UD, offer students the flexibility to take the program from anywhere in the world on the days and times that are most convenient for them.
In some cases, lawyers interested in legal scholarships and academic careers will continue their graduate studies in law by pursuing a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD). This is a research doctorate.
Preconditions: JD or LL.B. degree
Acquisition period: One year
Juris Master (JM), Master of Legal Studies (MLS), Master of Studies in Law (MSL)
The Juris Master (JM), Master of Legal Studies (MLS) and Master of Studies in Law (MSL) degrees provide students with a comprehensive education in fundamental legal principles, sometimes with an emphasis on a particular area such as security national or government contract. Courses for these degrees can be completed in one year.
These degrees do not prepare students for the practice of law, but are intended to advance careers in areas where legal knowledge is necessary to achieve business goals.
Preconditions: Undergraduate degree
Acquisition period: One year
LLM vs JD: Which degree is right for me?
If your goal is to practice law in the United States and you have no prior legal education, you must earn a JD degree from an ABA-accredited law school. Very few states allow students to take a bar exam without this credential.
International students who have an LL.B. degree and want to practice law in the United States or advise clients (internationally) on areas of American law have a shorter path to a law degree in the United States. In many jurisdictions, with an LL.M. degree, they can acquire the academic credentials they need to pass the bar exam in just one year. Of course, they can also apply for admission to a JD program, but this will require them to first pass the LSAT (or, in some cases, the GRE) and then complete a two- to three-year program of study. .
International students interested in furthering their legal education are encouraged to explore the programs offered by the University of Dayton School of Law, an accredited university located in the heartland of the United States. The wide range of online study opportunities, scholarships, and access to the school’s academic resources and support make the University of Dayton School of Law one of the most effective ways for Qualified international students gain a deeper understanding of U.S. law, eligibility for bar exams, and eventual entry into the practice of law in the United States.