Is my LL.B Worthless in the USA?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by LadyExecutive, Dec 16, 2007.

  1. LadyExecutive

    LadyExecutive Member

    I have an LL.B. I thought that I might enroll in an ABA accredited school's LL.M degree program which might have qualified me to sit the Bar in the US and possibly be admitted into the practice of law here. However, to my dismay, from what I have seen so far, my LL.B is worthless here in the USA. I do not see any state where I might petition the Association to take the Bar Exam. Does anyone know something other than this?

  2. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    I've seen LL.M programs at US law schools specifically for foreign-trained lawyers to become eligible for the US bar exam, but I remember reading somewhere (here perhaps) that the ABA requires that the initial LL.B. be earned in residence (not by DL).

    If a LL.M from an ABA-accredited school is all that's required, both the University of Alabama and Western New England College offer totally online programs.

    I do believe at least one edition of BG had a list of states which would accept foreign LL.B.'s for their bar exam.
  3. cklapka

    cklapka New Member

    You may wish to contact this organization:

    They normally work with the University of London but maybe they can point you in the right direction. Also they have a lot of good information on their website.
  4. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    Your only option is probably California. I am not an expert, but I looked some of this up a while back.... you should check yourself. Anyway, California is the only state that allows distance learning for the bar- and I think you'll still have to sit the baby bar to apply. There is a summary linked on the the William Taft website- search the JD Atty track- it's in there. I believe you'll need additional schooling beyond your bachelors to sit the bar (there are exceptions in CA I know, and pretty sure you can petition to have your non-aba schooling considered after you pass the baby bar- but I might have this information a little mixed up), and from my reading, the LLM won't allow you to sit the bar anywhere- I understand it to be for practicing lawyers.
    Additionally, I think that if you check each state, you may also find some who allow you to sit their bar after x years of practice in CA- and some who won't allow you at all. It's certainly going to require close attention the the details for you to make this happen- all the best.
  5. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

    In the United States of America, unlike British Commonwealth countries, the Juris Doctor (J.D.) is a graduate degree in that the student must have previously earned an undergraduate degree.

    The Bachelor of Laws or Bachelor of Legal Laws (LL.B.) degree, by contrast, is considered an undergraduate degree, although many students earn another undergraduate degree prior to admission to law school in British Commonwealth countries.

    The rules regarding foreign-trained lawyers and their eligibility to sit the bar examination varies across international, national, and provincial or state jurisdictions.


    Pappas, George D., "The London LL.B. & US State Bar Educational Eligibility", 12 January 1999, The Malet Street Gazatte,

    Gregory C. Osakwe v. Board of Bar Examiners, SJC-09642, 7 November 2006, FindLaw for Legal Professionals,

    Foreign Legal Education, New York State Bar,
  6. Thorvald

    Thorvald New Member

  7. PhD2B

    PhD2B Dazed and Confused

    This may be a stupid question, but is the J.D. typically considered a doctoral degree or more of a glorified master's degree? Is the J.D. something made up by a bunch of lawyers to make the J.D. seem more prestigious than it is?

    The work required for a J.D. seems to be more along the lines of a master's degree + extra credit hours.

    I know the J.D. is considered a first-professional degree by U.S. Department of Education, but people don't normally refer to J.D.s as 'doctor'.
  8. novemberdude

    novemberdude New Member

    Generally speaking the LLB as a first degree in law will permit admission to most American LLM programs. Some schools will have a problem with the modality of the University of London external degree, but there are definitely many, many American LLM programs that will allow you entry with your LLB. I note that you did your LLB through a residential University of London External provider, which probably solves most of the modality problems anyway.

    George Pappas, whose site Sentinel cites, did the external LLB (University of London) then a LLM at Widener and is now licensed in (I think) North Carolina.

    From what I understand the number of states that are allowing LLM holders to write the bar is diminishing, but I have not looked into that so take it with a grain of salt. There are definitely States where you can still use a LLM in American Law to write the state bar.

    Looking at it from a more cynical point of view I believe that you'll have no problem gaining entry to a LLM program. My understanding is that many of these programs are cash cows for the university involved and aimed solely at foreign trained lawyers. I am given to understand that there are some schools that do not maintain particularly rigorous admission standards for their LLM programs. And there are many, many law schools offering American law LLMs. If this is what you want to do I don't think getting a LLM will be a problem.

    Apparently it is difficult to get a job with a foreign degree + LLM however, but that's another question, isn't it?

    Good luck, if you find out anything more I'd be interested to hear.
  9. BlueMason

    BlueMason Audaces fortuna juvat

  10. novemberdude

    novemberdude New Member

    It is pretty much a done deal that Western and Queens are going to switch to the JD. University of Toronto did so about 7ish years ago. Apparently UBC is looking in that direction also.

    This is the subject of much debate, my take is that it is a rebranding by schools in an effort to compete for the best students and probably justify raised tuition. The argument commonly made in favour is that people in other countries think it's just an undergraduate degree (which it kind of is, although most entrants do already hold an undergrad degree, but it is not required) and it is therefore necessary to rename the degree for international competitiveness. This is nice in theory but realistically most Canadian law graduates stay in Canada, where the LLB is well accepted. Also, the school that probably places the most graduates internationally is McGill, which confers the LLB (and BCL).

    Regardless of this the JD seems to be the wave of the future at Canadian common law schools, irrespective of the fact that degree content won't be changing.

  11. BlueMason

    BlueMason Audaces fortuna juvat

    I think you're right and I'll add that it's also very plausible that having a J.D. could enable more CDN lawyers to move into the US (we all know there is a shortage of lawyers on a global scale, eh? ;) )
  12. sshuang

    sshuang New Member

    It's happening in Australia as well.
    I wonder if UK would also follow this trend, e.g., University of London External.

  13. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    I believe your LL.B. would qualify you to work in the legal, contracts, or procurement departments of aerospace companies, or possibly to work for insurance companies.
  14. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    1. Bears' Guide lists the following USA jurisdictions where foreign law grads may take the Bar Exam: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

    2. Furthermore, foreign law grads may petition to practice law without taking the Bar Exam in the District of Columbia, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Washington, and Wisconsin.

    3. There are many LlM programs designed to help prepare foreign law grads for the Bar Exam. Often these programs are styled the LlM in American Law.
  15. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

  16. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

    In general, the American Bar Association (ABA) determines whether a law school meets the requirements to sit for the bar examination. The name of the law degree, LL.B. v. J.D., is irrelevant in so far as the ABA is concerned. Their are a few schools which offer a joint LL.B. - J.D. degree programme such as the University of Windsor in association with a university in Michigan.

    Not every lawyer works in the criminal justice system; most actually work in areas outside of criminal justice, for example, such as in-house legal counsel, advisers to NGOs, and some people study law to enhance their professional qualifications without ever seeking admission to the bar.

    < sarcasm >
    Plaintiff: Oh, I burnt my lip on that cup of McDonald's coffee. Where is my lawyer?
    Lawyer: Your Honour, my client is seeking one million dollars compensation for the severe scalding caused by the very hot cup of coffee served by the defendent.
    Defendent: The cup clearly warned the contents are very hot.
    Lawyer: My client cannot read. He dropped out of school at age 16 due to a learning disability.
    < /sarcasm >
  17. sshuang

    sshuang New Member

    Monash University refers to Juris Doctor as Master of Laws.

    And the following was copied from RMIT University's website.;ID=nle...tta;SECTION=1;

    This title, Juris Doctor, comes from the United States where it is a graduate entry three year law degree awarded by an accredited US law school. The Juris Doctor has been adopted for use in Australia for a postgraduate law program leading to entry to the legal profession, to differentiate the program from a Masters of Law which is seen as an advanced law program. The Juris Doctor (JD) is not a doctoral level award and graduates are not entitled to use the honorific title “Doctor”.

  18. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    That would be the University of Detroit Mercy :cool: .
  19. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Actually, each individual state reserves the right to determine who may sit for the Bar Exam. In practice, however, most states simply turn that decision over to their respective state bar associations.
  20. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

    Indeed. Hence the wording "in general" in my previous posting.

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