Sunday, February 17, 2008

What's up Juris Doc?

The University of the Philippines University Council recently approved the conversion of Bachelor of Laws (LlB) degree to Juris Doctor (JD). The law school justified that the JD puts their graduates in line with other schools (like Ateneo) and with American practice. (Which leads me to ask. Why do we have to ape America all the time!)

Juris Doctor means Teacher of the Law in Latin. The idea of a JD is that this is a professional qualification. However in title conscious Philippines I have heard some law students think that an LlB is lower qualification than a JD.

Think again. In the Commonwealth, lawyers are still awarded the LlB. Getting that undergraduate qualification requires philosophical training which the JD doesn't require. The LlB is an academic degree. In other words an LlB gives a broader legal education than what a JD gives.

But in countries where law studies is a postgraduate qualification, the coursework can overwhelm the once complacent undergrad.

But with law as a profession, lawyers still have to take an apprenticeship before they are able to practice on their own. So in practice the degrees are equivalent.

But one thing is sure, lawyers are not styled as "doctor" even with a JD. In the USA this is to prevent the public from confusing lawyers with physicians.

I think that reason is daft. There is a big difference between physicians and lawyers. But they have a major similarity too. Both can charge huge professional fees!

Nonetheless people who a research professionals have a Doctor of Philosophy degree and they use the title "doctor" and people rarely mistake them for physicians.

But in title conscious Pinoy society it would be a parody to address the abogado de campanilla as Attorney Doc!

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