Law Degrees and Their Meanings

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Written by Chinua Asuzu

The undergraduate degree in law is Bachelor of Laws (LLB). LLB is spelt LLB or LLB., never L.L.B

This strange abbreviation comes from Latin. The Latin word lex means “law.” The plural of lex is legum. Creating an abbreviation for a plural, especially in Latin, is done by doubling the first letter of the noun. An example is cc for copies, and pp for pages, hence LL for laws.

LLB stands for legum baccalaurens, Latin for “Bachelor of Laws.” Your degree is a Bachelor of Laws, not Bachelor in Law, not Bachelor of Law, and not Bachelor of Law and Letters or Bachelor of Law and Logic! 

LLM (or more rarely LL.M., but never L.L.M.) stands for legum magister, Latin for “Master of Laws.” Magister is Latin for “master.”

LLD (or more rarely LL.D., but never L.L.D.) stands for legum doctor, Latin for “Doctor of Laws.”

The discipline, law, is already expressed inside these titles. So you cannot have LLB in LawLLM in Law, or LLD in Law—just LLB, LLM, or LLD. Could it conceivably have been an LLB in Nuclear Physics? Please review your résumés.

JD (Juris Doctor) is the American equivalent of an LLB. An SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science, Doctor of the Science of Law, or Scientiae Juridicae Doctor) is a research doctorate in law. It originated from the US and is offered in that country as well as in Canada.

Just because your law degree is titled a ‘Bachelor of Laws,’ you didn’t “study laws”; you “studied law.”

By the way, folks, the plural of JSC (Justice of the Supreme Court) is JJSC (Justices of the Supreme Court), not JSCs. The plural of J (for Judge) is JJ (Judges); for JCA (Justice of the Court of Appeal), it’s JJCA (Justices of the Court of Appeal).

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