Doctor of Laws

Doctor of Laws

Doctor of Laws (Latin: "Legum Doctor", LL.D.) is a doctorate-level academic degree in law. Plural abbreviations in Latin are formed by doubling the letter, hence the double "L". What follows is a country-by-country analysis of earned doctorates in law, which are the most analogous to the concept of the LL.D. These degrees, as shown below, may be formulated, inter alia, as LL.D., Ph.D., D.C.L., S.J.D. ("Scientiae Juridicae Doctor" in Latin), or J.S.D. They are, indeed, the highest degrees in law in their national states.

By Country


In Brazil, the Doctor of Laws degree, known in Portuguese as Doutor em Direito or Doutor em Ciências Jurídicas is the highest academic degree in law available. The degree is awarded upon the completion and the successful defense of a thesis prepared by the doctoral candidate. In most Brazilian Law Schools, the candidates are also required to earn a minimum number of credits.


Of the universities in Canada that offer doctorates in law, four (University of Ottawa, [] University of Montreal, [] Laval University, [] and University of Quebec at Montreal [] ) offer LL.Ds, three (University of British Columbia, [] Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, and University of Victoria [] ) offer Ph.Ds, three (University of Toronto, [] University of Calgary and Dalhousie University [] ) offer S.J.D degrees (Doctor of Laws), and one (McGill University [] ) offers a D.C.L (Doctor of Civil Law). The differences largely reflect the divide between Canada's two legal systems (the common law and the civil law). Faculties that teach in the civil law tradition grant LL.D degrees, whereas those in the common law tradition grant either Ph.Ds or S.J.Ds.

European and Commonwealth usage

In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, the degree is a higher doctorate usually awarded on the basis of exceptionally insightful and distinctive publications that contain significant and original contributions to the study of law. Some universities, such as the University of Oxford, award a Doctor of Civil Law degree instead. In South Africa, the LL.D. is awarded by many university law faculties as the highest degree in law, also based upon research and completion of a Ph.D. equivalent dissertation like in most European countries. The LL.D. may also be awarded as an honorary degree based upon a person's contributions to society.


In Finland, the Doctor of Laws (in Finnish, Oikeustieteen tohtori, OTT) is the highest degree in law, based on 40 credits of course studies and, most importantly, successful completion of a doctoral dissertation. The dissertation can take the form of a monograph of 250-300 pages in length, or of a series of published articles. A successful oral disputation is also required.


In Germany the Doctor of Law (observe the singular) is the advanced degree in law (the basic degree being a successfully passed first Staatsexamen) awarded as Dr. iur. (Doctor iuris) based on a dissertation. It usually requires the grade of Fully Satisfactory in the student's first Staatsexamen though having successfully passed the second Staatsexamen (the German equivalent to the bar exam) is not required. Only

The Doctor of Laws (now note the plural), awarded as Dr.iur. utr. (Doctor iuris utriusque) is almost extinct, since it means considering both Civil Law and Canonical Law. A doctorate solely in latter area is the degree of Dr. iur. can. (Doctor iuris canonici).

The Doctor of Law is still only the first step to tenure in German Law. Despite the initiative to establish a junior professor, to become a university professor of law a habilitation is still mandatory.

Czech Republic and Slovakia (former Czechoslovakia)

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia the Doctor is a postgraduate degree awarded as JUDr. (Juris utrisque doctor) based upon research and completion of a dissertation. This dissertation differs from a Ph.D. dissertation in its lesser time and work (approx. 2 - 3 years for full time candidates, 5 years for PhD). The PhD is chosen by candidates interested in an academic career since it comprises the capacity for teaching at universities.


In Italy, the title of "Doctor of legal science" (dottore in scienze giuridiche) is the title given to anybody who graduates from university having completed a normal course of undergraduate studies in law (3yrs). These can be compared to the British Bachelor of Laws degree.The title of "doctor of law" (dottore in giurisprudenza) is the title given to students who, after first level degree, complete the master degree in law (+2 years), and, previously, this was the title given to the students that completed the old courses of studies in law (4 years).The Ph.D. title can be earned after (+3 years) of schooling, by students that have the master in law and are "doctor of law".Once a prospective lawyer has been awarded the "doctor of law" (dottore in giurisprudenza), and worked two years like trainee lawyer, he or she is required to pass a state bar examination in order to be licensed to practice as an Attorney at Law.


In Malta, the European Union's smallest member state, the LL.D. is a doctorate-level academic degree in law requiring at least six years (three for the LL.B. and 3 for the LL.D) of full time study at the University of Malta, [] Malta's national university. Students are required to complete coursework in a number of core areas of law, as well as to submit a thesis which is to be "an original work on the approved subject or other contribution to the knowledge showing that he/she has carried out sufficient research therein". [] It confers the title of Doctor, which in Malta is rigorously used to address a holder of the degree. The LL.D. is one of the requirements for admission to the profession of advocate in Malta (an advocate, as opposed to a legal procurator, has rights of representation in superior courts).

In Malta, practising lawyers are of three designations – notaries, legal procurators and advocates. A one-year full time taught post-graduate diploma of Notary Public (N.P.) is required for admission to the profession of notary public, while a taught post-graduate diploma of Legal Procurator (L.P.) is required for admission to the profession of legal procurator. A legal procurator is a lawyer in Malta that has rights of audience in the lower courts, a profession that was existent in Malta as early, and even prior to 1553. [] The Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree, also offered by the university, is an undergraduate degree that of itself is not sufficient for admission into any of the legal professions. All three professions also require members to be holders of a warrant issued by the President of Malta, obtainable after a minimum of one year of work experience in that profession, and examination. It is not possible for a Maltese lawyer to hold a warrant in more than one of the professions at a time.

Notable holders of the LL.D. degree include Dr. Guido de Marco (former President of the United Nations General Assembly and former President of Malta), Dr. George Borg Olivier (first post-independence Prime Minister of Malta), and Dr. Lawrence Gonzi (current Prime Minister of Malta).

United States

While it is difficult to equate one country’s degrees to another, this section sets out to give examples, country-by-country, of the degrees that are most analogous to the earned Doctor of Laws (as opposed to an honorary doctorate). Awarded by only approximately twenty of the top law schools in the United States, the degree of Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D. or J.S.D.) is the closest degree to the notion of the “Doctor of Laws.” Like most doctorates, the S.J.D. and the earned LL.D. share in common with the Ph.D. the requirement of a dissertation and an original contribution to the scholarly field. Most of the U.S. law schools (which have such programs) state that the S.J.D. is their most “advanced law degree” and others state that it is “the terminal degree in law.” See, for example, Harvard Law School, [] Stanford Law School, [] and Indiana University School of Law. []

ee also

*Juris Doctor (J.D.)
*Master of Laws (LL.M.)
*Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.)
*Doctor of Canon Law


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  • Doctor Of Laws — Pour un article plus général sur les doctorats anglo saxons, voir Doctorate Le terme de Doctor of Laws désigne un diplôme universitaire de troisième cycle dans les pays anglophones ou anglo saxons. Ce terme est souvent abrégé en LL.D.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Doctor of laws — Pour un article plus général sur les doctorats anglo saxons, voir Doctorate Le terme de Doctor of Laws désigne un diplôme universitaire de troisième cycle dans les pays anglophones ou anglo saxons. Ce terme est souvent abrégé en LL.D.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • doctor of laws — often cap D&L: an honorary law degree compare doctor of the science of law, juris doctor, master of laws Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster …   Law dictionary

  • Doctor of Laws — Pour un article plus général sur les doctorats anglo saxons, voir Doctorate Le terme de Doctor of Laws désigne un diplôme universitaire de troisième cycle dans les pays anglophones ou anglo saxons. Ce terme est souvent abrégé en LL.D.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • doctor of laws — Degree De*gree , n. [F. degr[ e], OF. degret, fr. LL. degradare. See {Degrade}.] 1. A step, stair, or staircase. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] By ladders, or else by degree. Rom. of R. [1913 Webster] 2. One of a series of progressive steps upward or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Doctor of Laws — Doktor der Rechtswissenschaften, Doktor der Rechte (lat. Abk. Dr. iur., Dr. jur.), seltener noch Doktor beider Rechte (des kirchlichen und des weltlichen, lat. Abk. Dr. iur. utr.) ist der akademische Grad eines Doktors im Bereich der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • doctor of laws — one who has earned a doctoral degree in law …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Doctor of Laws — noun an honorary law degree • Syn: ↑LLD • Hypernyms: ↑honorary degree, ↑honoris causa …   Useful english dictionary

  • Doctor of law — or Doctor of Laws is a doctoral degree in law. The application of the term varies from country to country, and includes degrees such as the LL.D., Ph.D., J.D., J.S.D., and Dr. iur. Contents 1 By country 1.1 Argentina 1.2 Brazil …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor of Juridical Science — Doctor of Juridical Science, Doctor of the Science of Law, (in Latin) Scientiae Juridicae Doctor (sometimes also referred to as a Doctor of Laws), abbreviated J.S.D. or S.J.D., is a research doctorate in law[1] and equivalent to the PhD[2][3] It… …   Wikipedia

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