Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Legal education in Australia--Melbourne Moving to the US Post-Graduate Degree Model (though law was never quite an undergraduate degree in the U.S. sense either)

Kevin Heller, a law professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia, wrote to correct my claim about Australian legal education in my post from the other day.  Professor Heller notes that Melbourne "has just finished transitioning to a [post-graduate] JD-only model....We realized that a JD is a much more competitive degree internationally, even in Europe (and especially in the US, Canada, and Asia), where a very significant percentage of our graduates want to work."  He also added some useful context about what it really meant to say law used to be an undergraduate degree:

I would add...that the nature of [undergraduate] LLB legal education, at least in Australia and New Zealand, was always a bit more complicated than it's often made out to be.  More than (I think) 80% of our LLB students did joint law/arts or law/business degrees.  A double degree at Melbourne normally took at least five, and far more often six, years to complete.  (Undergraduate degrees here on their own took about three years to complete, not the four that is standard in the U.S.)  So although our LLB students started taking law courses earlier in their university education than our JDs will (usually the first LLB law course was second semester of their second undergraduate year, though many began law in year three, when they had one year left in their other degree), it normally took six years for them to complete their LLB and arts/commerce B.A.  That is exactly how long our JD graduates will have spent in school, assuming they did their required undergraduate degree in three years.  (We also have options for students to complete their JDs in 2.5 and 2 years, if they are willing to take summer and winter courses.)

http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2012/01/legal-education-in-australia-melbourne-moving-to-the-us-post-graduate-degree-model.html

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