what-is-a-jd-degree-in-law

Anyone pursuing law will most likely be interested in acquiring a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree. Many people earn a J.D. every year for many reasons: to open doors to many professions, help others, or work in an exciting field like law. 

But what is a J.D. degree in law, and how you can benefit from it? This article will provide you with all the necessary information. 

What Is a J.D. Degree In Law

A J.D. degree, also known as a Juris Doctor degree, is specifically designed to prepare you for practicing law. Although this is a standard degree, it’s still a mandatory step in becoming a lawyer. 

Is a J.D. the same as a law degree?

Yes, a J.D. is a law degree; to begin this program, you must have a bachelor’s degree. To earn a J.D., most law schools require a minimum of 83 hours from their institution, which rounds up to three years. Before applying to any law school, undergraduate students also need to take the LSAT test.

The admission requirements for a J.D. program don’t require a master’s degree, but it depends on the country or canton. For example, the Faculty of Law of Zurich requires a high school diploma and some program language requirements. Since law program courses are delivered in German, one of the requirements is that you should have a C1 level of German competence.

What is a J.D. degree equivalent to?

A J.D. degree is a three-year professional doctorate. Essentially, a J.D. degree is equivalent to a Doctor of Medicine, yet most lawyers don’t use the title of “Doctor.” Instead, they use the label “esquire” or “Esq.” after their name. In theory, you can refer to yourself as a Doctor because you have a doctorate. However, in real life, most lawyers, judges, or even real doctors would discourage you from using it.

Does having a J.D. mean you are a lawyer?

The most common mistake people who want to pursue J.D. make is thinking this degree will immediately mean they’re a lawyer. That’s not exactly how it goes. To become a lawyer, you need to obtain a J.D. degree, but there are some extra steps.

Once graduated, you are allowed to take the bar exam and start the practice of law because a J.D. degree alone won’t allow you to practice law. You must pass this exam, but check your state’s bar exam requirements as they may differ. 

To be accepted to the bar, you must have a bachelor’s degree in law, a master of law, work as an apprentice for one to two years, and pass the bar exam. The admission requirements and registration also differ based on the canton. 

What Can You Do With a J.D. Degree?

what-is-a-jd-degree-in-lawMost people want to attend a law school, get a J.D., and practice law. Others, however, have a different route. The good thing is that there are several careers that you can pursue with a J.D. degree, whether you’re into traditional law jobs or non-lawyer jobs. 

Insurance adjuster

Insurance companies are one of the many professional workspaces that are fit for an insurance adjuster. With this role, as a J.D. professional, you look into insurance claims and decide whether the insurance company should pay the claims and the amount of money.

To do this, you must conduct interviews with certain witnesses, inspect property damage, and consult police or hospital records to determine accountability.

The average salary of an insurance adjuster is around CHF 81’787 annually (maximum salary).

Negotiation and conflict resolution (Mediator)

insurance-adjuster.jpgA mediator negotiates and assists two parties in arriving at a settlement. As a J.D. professional, you still work within a law environment because you deal with the court system, but you can also find job positions in the private sector.

A mediator can work in the finance or insurance industry. However, you must remember that being a mediator doesn’t mean you can make binding decisions; instead, you operate as a neutral third party where you help the conflicting parties reach an agreement amicably.

The salary depends on the industry, but the median annual wage for mediators in Switzerland is 72,000 CHF, plus the 13th salary and other bonuses. 

Tax attorney

As a tax attorney, you can expect a variety of different roles. Essentially, you represent individuals and use many tax planning structures that help reduce the overload of estate and income taxes.

Additionally, you can represent clients in cases when there are issues regarding lawsuits and business ownership that involve the IRS. Not only that, but tax attorneys may also be in charge of helping small or large businesses with taxation laws or setting up other enterprises.

The annual wage for tax attorneys in Switzerland is highly profitable, at 117,125 CHF. Additionally, the maximum yearly pay is 200,572 CHF.  

FAQ

Since this is a vast field, it’s only natural that you might have some questions you want to be answered. Here are the most common questions that someone pursuing a J.D. is interested in.

Is a J.D. worth it?

Absolutely, yes! A J.D. is worth it if you have the time and money since law school can be a little expensive. But you can always opt for a public law school as they cost less than private institutions. 

However, considering the job opportunities and salary, earning a J.D. doesn’t seem bad. If anything, you are opening your career doors with this degree in ways you never thought possible. You’ll expect a lot of stress and competition while pursuing this degree, but an aspiring lawyer should never be afraid of this.

Can you become an attorney without a J.D. degree?

The chances of you becoming a licensed attorney without a J.D. degree are little to non-existent. This is not to say it’s impossible; it’s relatively rare. 

How long does it take to earn a J.D. degree?

what-is-a-jd-degree-in-lawA Juris Doctorate takes up to three years to finish, but it also depends on the student. In Switzerland, there are two types of law degrees: one after three years of study and one after four years. Moreover, these options are available to students who graduate from a Swiss university.

What’s the difference between an LLM and J.D. degree?

The most noticeable difference between an LLM (Master of Laws) and a J.D. degree is that the J.D. prepares people for practicing law, while LLM provides advanced training. So, if you want to step it up, an LLM degree is the way.

Other differences include that you don’t need an LLM to practice law because this is a specialized degree. Unlike a J.D. program which takes up to three years to complete, an LLM program takes approximately a year if you attend full-time.

In addition, an LLM program is more focused on the theoretical part than a J.D. program and has more rigorous courses. 

Wrapping Up

Although some people choose to dismiss getting a J.D. degree, often, they forget that this is the most straightforward path to becoming a licensed attorney. Remember that getting your J.D. is not easy; it takes time, dedication, and a lot of money, but the results make this worth it.

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