There is a great chance that if you are not USA or Canada based, you would not know what the title J.D. stands for, even if you are a legal professional. So I think it would be useful to get acquainted to its proper meaning.
The J.D. is the highest education available in the legal profession in the United States and is considered a professional degree. Actually the abbreviation J.D. stands for Juris Doctor, which is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law. The degree is earned by completing law school in the United States, Canada, Australia, and other common law countries.The J.D. will prepare the student to take the state bar exam allowing them to practice law in their country or state. In the USA the Juris Doctorate degree is obtained by going to a law school that has been approved by the American Bar Association.
However, becoming a J.D. is a long process. The most common path followed by students in the USA is first receiving an undergraduate degree in law or legal science, then pursuing a Juris Doctorate degree. The undergraduate degree doesn’t have to be related to the law, at least not always. Any undergraduate degree that prepares the student with an education that bears on the practice of law would do. Once a student has completed their undergraduate degree, they would have to take the LSAT test in order to apply to law school. Once they have passed the LSAT they would be able to go on to earn their Juris Doctorate. The Juris Doctorate program varies at each school as to the length and courses; but in general there are standard guidelines followed by all reputable Law schools. The average time to take the degree is three years of full-time coursework. Once the Juris Doctorate is complete, the American law student is ready to sit for their state bar exam and receive their license to practice law.
Originating from the 19th century Harvard movement for the scientific study of law, J.D. is a law degree that in most common law jurisdictions is the primary professional preparation for state approved lawyers and legal practitioners. Legal education is rooted in the history and structure of the legal system of the jurisdiction where the education is given, therefore law degrees are vastly different from country to country and state to state, making comparisons among degrees a hard, if not an impossible, task.
Some of the courses a student can expect to take in a J.D. program are:
• Civil Procedures
• Constitutional Laws
• Contract Law
• Courtroom Procedures
• Criminal Law
• Property and Real Estate Law
• Civil Law
• Public Law
• International Law
• Business Law
As a professional doctorate, the Juris Doctor is a degree that prepares the recipient to enter the law profession. While the J.D. is the sole degree necessary to become a professor of law or to obtain a license to practice law, it is generally upheld to not be a “research degree”. Research degrees in the study of law include the Master of Laws (LL.M.), which ordinarily requires the J.D. or LL.B., and the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.).
Recently the American Bar Association has issued a statement, advising law schools that the J.D. should be considered equivalent to the Ph.D. for educational employment purposes. That is the reason why most law professors in the USA only have a J.D. degree.