Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Controversy at Queen's in Canada: Switching from the "LL.B." to the "J.D."

The University of Toronto made the move in 2001, and now Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario is thinking of following suit, but not without controversy:

JD. As in Juris Doctor. That's the law degree introduced by U.S. schools in the 1960s to certify that graduates had successfully earned both a law degree and an undergraduate degree in another discipline.

In a bid to rectify the discrepancy, Dean Flanagan sent an e-mail to Queen's University law school alumni on Friday afternoon to advise them that the Dean's Council of eight alumni lawyers had agreed to support a recent student referendum in favour of switching the school's law degree to a JD designation.

Within hours of the e-mail, some furious alumni were dashing off scalding retorts. Apparently, the irate lawyers believed they were privately replying to Prof. Flanagan. But instead, some e-mail writers hit the "reply to all" button and about 3,000 former graduates of the university found themselves on the receiving end of furious messages, many blasting the "Americanization" of the school.

"Never has the importance of remaining distinct from the U.S. legal market been of more value," wrote Robert Amsterdam, a Queen's alumnus and prominent litigator practising in London.

Gerald Thomas, a barrister practising in Kobe, Japan, warned the move would "draw us closer to a country that is increasingly at odds with the global community."


Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

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