Legal Degree Comparison: Juris Doctor (JD) vs. Master of Laws (LLM)

JD vs LLM pic
JD vs LLM pic

Scott Perlov serves as a startup, corporate and transactional attorney at the Boulder, Colorado, law firm of Bryan Cave LLP. In this capacity, he assists firms with matters including early seed funding, venture capital investment, mergers, and acquisitions. Scott Perlov not only holds a JD from the American University Washington College of Law, but also pursued advanced legal studies to receive an LLM from New York University.

While both the Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Laws (LLM) degrees represent expertise in the practice of American law, they differ in terms of admission requirements, length of study, and professional application. A requirement for practicing law in the United States, the JD is offered by law schools in both the US and Canada. JD programs involve three years of full-time study and require a bachelor’s degree for admission as well as an acceptable LSAT score. After earning a JD from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, students are eligible to sit for their state’s bar exam.

Conversely, year-long LLM programs do not require an LSAT score for admission, but do require a prior degree in law. This degree may be a JD, an LLB, or an equivalent degree from a foreign law school. Additionally, international LLM applicants with a native language other than English must typically complete an English proficiency test prior to admission. As a globally recognized advanced law certification, the LLM may be ideal for international legal professionals wishing to practice law in the United States. However, while the LLM costs less and offers a shorter completion time compared to the JD, it does not serve as a qualification to sit for the bar exam in all US states.


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