Australian Law Schools: What is the difference between the LLB and the JD?

Australian Law Schools are a popular option for Canadian students wishing to attain qualifications to practice law.


But how do you know which degree to take—the LLB or the JD? It’s a question we receive a lot here at the OzTREKK office. Just what is the difference between the Bachelor of Laws and the Juris Doctor? Although we’ve covered the topic before, with so many new applicants, we felt it was important to have another look and answer some other common questions we receive.

Australian Law Schools
Contact OzTREKK for Australian Law School info!

What is the difference between the LLB and the JD?
The Bachelor of Laws and the Juris Doctor are both professionally recognized degrees. Both LLB and JD programs educate students to practice law and allow them to apply for registration in Canada. The main difference is that the LLB is offered at the undergraduate level, and the JD is offered at the postgraduate level. LLB students can study the program directly from high school or after having completed post-secondary studies, while the JD or graduate-entry LLB requires a completed bachelor degree for admission.

At some Australian Law Schools, JD programs are fast-tracked, so that you can complete them in two calendar years, as opposed to a three-year, graduate-entry LLB. Entry requirements for JD programs can be more competitive, especially as they become more popular with North American students. At universities where both a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Laws are offered, students who have already completed an undergraduate degree normally apply for the postgraduate professional qualification (JD).

After I graduate, what do I have to do in order to be eligible to practice law in Canada?
An assessment based on your academic and professional profile is done before you may apply for admission to a law society in a Canadian common law jurisdiction. Once a file is assessed by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA), you may be asked to complete one or more exams and/or attend and complete specific law school courses within a prescribed time frame. Upon successful completion of these requirements, the NCA issues a Certificate of Qualification. The certificate will state that you have education and training equivalent to that of a graduate from a Canadian law school.

How can I take the examinations in Canadian law?
There are two ways of taking these examinations if they have not been taken as part of an Australian Law School degree. Once an assessment is complete, you may either complete  assigned subjects with NCA “challenge exams” or complete assigned subjects at law school.

The more popular route for Canadians is the challenge exams.

NCA assessments focus on the competence of applicants in core common law subjects, including four Canadian subjects which are mandatory for all applicants:
  • Principles of Canadian Administrative Law
  • Canadian Constitutional Law
  • Canadian Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Foundations of Canadian Law
A syllabus and sample exam are available for each subject.

How much difference is there between Australian and Canadian law?
The principles and methodology of Australian and Canadian law are similar. The details of statutory provisions and case-law obviously differ, but an Australian law degree provides a good basis for taking examinations in Canadian law and for legal practice in Canada.

Will I be able to practice law in Australia?
These are two separate issues: qualification as an Australian lawyer and possession of a visa entitling you to work in Australia. Admission to the legal profession in Australia requires—depending on the state—the completion of either articles or a six-month Practical Legal Training program. Australian immigration operates on a “points” system for working visas. Some points are awarded for having an Australian degree, but additional points are required. Some of OzTREKK’s Australian Law School graduates have qualified and are working in Australia. For further information, you should contact the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection or an Australian consulate in Canada.

Which law programs do OzTREKK Australian Law Schools offer?
OzTREKK’s Australian Law Schools offer either a graduate-entry LLB or JD and most offer an undergraduate-entry LLB.

Bond University Law School
James Cook University Law School
Macquarie University Law School
Monash University Law School
University of Melbourne Law School
University of Newcastle Law School
University of Queensland Law School
University of Sydney Law School


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