Osgoode changes its law degree designation from bachelor of laws to juris doctor

York’s Osgoode Hall Law School is changing its undergraduate law degree designation from bachelor of laws (LLB) to juris doctor (JD). 

The move to the JD, which was approved by Senate last Thursday, will take effect with the Osgoode graduating class of 2009, who will convocate in June. It will also apply retroactively to alumni who choose to convert their degree. Details of the exchange process for alumni will be announced in the fall.

Although the degree designation has changed, there will also be an opportunity for current Osgoode students to opt out of the change and receive an LLB rather than a JD. 

Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan (left) says the move to the JD is part of “a growing trend among law schools in Canada and internationally” to acknowledge that the degree holder has completed a period of postsecondary education prior to entering law school and that law is a second-entry degree. 

“We feel that the JD is a clearer reflection of the nature of our degree, particularly for international audiences who may not be familiar with the LLB and who may incorrectly think that an LLB is a first-entry degree,” says Monahan. He noted that applicants to Osgoode must have a minimum of three full years at a recognized university in a program leading to a degree to be eligible for consideration. 

The change in degree designation follows on the heels of extensive consultation with Osgoode students and alumni including a student plebiscite and an alumni survey. Seventy-three per cent of students who took part in the plebiscite and 90 per cent of approximately 500 alumni who completed the alumni survey indicated their support for the JD designation. 

Shane D’Souza, chair of Osgoode Student Caucus, says that students were “overwhelmingly in support of changing our designation from LLB to JD.” He says the degree change will correct any misconception that equates Osgoode’s program to LLB programs in other common-law countries that admit students immediately after high school.

“We believe that this is especially important with the increasing tendency of Osgoode graduates to explore employment opportunities abroad,” says D’Souza.

An increasing number of law schools across Canada are also adopting or have already adopted the JD, says Monahan, pointing to law faculties at the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, Queen’s University and the University of Western Ontario.