Everything You Need to Know About the Juris Doctor Degree

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Juris Doctor

Various countries like the USA, Australia require students to complete a specific course to be eligible to become a lawyer and legally practice law in the country. Apart from completing the courses like BA LLB, LLB and LLM, students must also have the skills required to be a lawyer. The  Juris Doctor degree has taken over top law schools in the USA and Canada over the last 20 years. In this blog, we give an in-depth introduction about Juris Doctor and why you should pursue a JD as your law degree.

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About Juris Doctor Degree

A Juris Doctor is an undergraduate degree or professional doctorate that helps you in becoming a lawyer in the United States and Canada. 

  • Juris Doctor or JD was first introduced in the United States during the 20th century during the Harvard moment of the scientific study of law. 
  • Joseph Story, a lecturer at Harvard who became a US Supreme Court justice later, realised how legal education in the United States had a trade school type of approach. Instead of involving science in law, legal education focussed more on skill development. 
  • Juris Doctor is an academic qualification that provides complete knowledge of the legal world along with training the students as professionals with bar prep as well. Juris Doctor is a 3-year program in the United States and Canada
  • A more advanced and accelerated Juris Doctor 2.5-year program is available in the US Universities but law students prefer to pursue it for 3 years. 

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LLB vs JD- Which is better?

JD is a new phenomenon for Indians as the law degrees we are most familiar with are LLB and LLM. LLB or Bachelors of Law is also an undergraduate law degree for 3 years. So what’s the difference between LLB and JD?

In Canada and the United States, JD is your getaway to legal practice. After completing your JD, you can appear for bar examinations and start your practice. LLB students may be asked to do a JD or LLM before they appear for their bar examinations. 

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LLM vs JD- Which is Better?

JD and LLM can be called counterparts. Most law students in US and Canada start law school after they have graduated in any other subject. In that case, if they want to pursue LLM, they will have to pursue LLB for 3 to 4 years. JD can be pursued with or without a law graduate degree. 

LLM offers a very field-specific education in 1 year which is found to be rushed while Juris Doctor offers a complete legal education in 3 years along with bar prep. LLM is also touted to have a less modern approach to law than the Juris Doctor in the US. 

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Which Countries Offer the Juris Doctor Degree?

Juris Doctor originated in the United States in the 20th century and the University of Chicago Law School was the first to implement it. But it took almost 50 years and a lot of criticism for universities in the United States to do a smooth LLB to JD shift. Canada was in agreement with the Harvard movement and by the late 90s created a JD program which became their common law degree program replacing LLB.

Apart from the United States and Canada, the following countries have the JD Program or a law program similar to JD:

The United Kingdom argued that having the word Doctor in the name Juris Doctor offers an assumption that the degree is a research doctorate equivalent. Therefore, only one university in the UK, Queen’s University (Belfast) offers the complete JD Program. 

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Syllabus of Juris Doctor Program

Juris Doctor is a 3 year program within which 1 year is dedicated to foundation-level knowledge and the other 2 involve the application of the concepts learnt in the first year.

Year Curriculum
1st YearCivil Procedure
Constitutional Law
Criminal Law
Foundation Year Moot Court
Legal Methods- I & II
Legal Practice Workshop- I & II
2nd and 3rd YearExtensive practical and technical workshops, experiments and moot courts in the elective chosen in the 1st year.


Students can choose one elective for their first year from the following subjects.

  • Corporations
  • Empirical Analysis of Law
  • International Law
  • Labour Law
  • Interpretation of the First Amendment
  • Law and Contemporary Society
  • Law and Legal Institution in China
  • Lawyering for Change
  • Legislation and Regulation
  • Translational Litigation

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Top Universities for Juris Doctor in the USA 

Top Universities for Juris Doctor in Canada

Law Schools in Ireland

Entry Requirements for JurisDoctor Degree

As an Indian student, you have to be qualified in the following eligibility requirements to be able to apply for the JD program:

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How to Apply for JurisDoctor Degree

The application process for Juris Doctor is similar to any other courses in the USA or Canada. However, we have provided you with a streamlined guide that will help you understand the process easily.

  • Choose the university you’d like to apply for a Juris Doctor in. Check the acceptance rate of the university to make an informed decision.
  • Check the specific entry requirement of that university. 
  • Go to their online portal (CAS for the USA) to register your application interest. 
  • Attach all the documents required for the application and apply. 
  • The processing time can be anywhere between 6 to 8 weeks within which you might be asked for a virtual interview.
  • You will be offered a letter of acceptance which you have to accept formally within a deadline.
  • After your application comes through, you can apply for the visa of the country you will be flying to. 

Scholarships for Juris Doctor Degree

The tuition fee of doing a Juris Doctor depends upon the country and the university. If you get accepted for a JD in Harvard for study in the USA, the tuition fee can be INR 50.25 lakhs. Juris Doctor is an expensive program to take up, especially for Indian students in the US and Canada. Here’s a list of scholarships you can apply for while doing a JD in the USA and Canada:

Scholarships for Indian students in Canada

Job Opportunities for JurisDoctor Degree

After you successfully graduate from your Juris Doctor program, you can take a bar exam to work as a lawyer. The average starting salary of a JD graduate is 8 to 15 lakhs per annum. After your JD, you can apply for the following positions in a law firm:

  • Litigation and trial lawyers
  • General counsels
  • Academia
  • Mediators, Arbitrators, Councillors
  • Judge
  • Litigation Support Roles
  • Legal Recruiters
  • Paralegals  

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How long is the Juris Doctor program?

The JD program is 3 years long. 

Can you practise law after JD?

After graduating with JD, you can take the bar exam and then start a law practice. 

Which is the best university for a Juris Doctor in the USA?

Yale University is the best university for a Juris Doctor in the USA. 

What is the minimum eligibility of a Juris Doctor in Canada?

You have to have a bachelor’s degree in law or any subject to qualify for a Juris Doctor program in Canada. 

What is the difference between LLM and JD?

Juris Doctor will give you complete general knowledge about the law which LLM gives field-specific knowledge.

Can you practise in India with a Juris Doctor from abroad?

If you study JD from the universities approved by the Bar Council of India, you can practise law in India. 

Is a Juris Doctor in the USA different from a Juris Doctor in Canada?

USA and Canada Juris Doctor programs have similar features but the curriculum depends upon the university to university. 

How much can a Juris Doctor graduate earn?

The starting average salary of a Juris Doctor graduate can be 8 to 15 lakhs per annum. 

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We know how studying to become a lawyer requires great thought because of the number of years you dedicate to the process. Juris Doctor is a degree unheard in India and we hope that this blog helped you with an introduction to it. To know more in-depth about Juris Doctor, call us at 1800-572-000 and book your free 30-minute counselling session now! January intake is near and Leverage Edu is the guidance you need for your study abroad goal!

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