"J.D.”: professional doctorate degree

After going through the grueling push, pull and grind that is law school, you will finally be conferred a Juris Doctor degree and you can use "JD" or "J.D." at the end of your name. But, what does it actually mean? Section 18 of LEB (Legal Education Board) Memorandum Order No. 01, Series of 2011 provides that a Juris Doctor degree is a "professional doctorate degree."In its Resolution No. 2019-406, entitled "A Resolution Setting the Graduate-Level Degree Equivalency of the Basic Law Course," the LEB considered the basic law degrees as being equivalent to doctoral degrees "for purposes of appointment/employment, ranking, and compensation." It is stated in the Resolution that it is "unreasonable and unfair to consider the basic law degrees as merely equivalent to a master’s degree." The LEB then compared the number of units and the minimum coursework requirement for these two degrees and found that it is more fitting to regard a JD degree as equivalent to an academic doctoral degree. Further, graduate law degrees are now to be considered as "additional degrees for purposes promotion, ranking and compensation."

The Juris Doctor degree (J.D. or JD), also known as the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree (J.D., JD, D.Jur. or DJur), is a graduate-entry professional degree in law and one of several Doctor of Law degrees. In Australia, Canada, the United States, and some other common law countries, the Juris Doctor is earned by completing law school. It has the academic standing of a professional doctorate (in contrast to a research doctorate) in the United States, a master's degree in Australia, and a second-entry baccalaureate degree in Canada (in all three jurisdictions, the same as other professional degrees, such as M.D./D.O. or D.D.S./D.M.D., the degrees required to be a practicing physician or dentist, respectively). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juris_Doctor)

In an official Facebook comment, the LEB said: "The problem with the traditional straightjacketed thinking that law studies must comply with the standards (as in fact there is no universal international standards) of other disciplines is that legal education has been separated by State Policy (per RA No 7662) from the rest. That is precisely why there is a Legal Education Board, and why law education is not lumped with the rest under the CHED. If the thinking was legal education should conform with the rest, then CHED should have been given authority over legal education. But that was not the case. Legal education was separated and is given its own regulatory agency. Obviously, because of that separation of legal education there will be also variance in policies - even on ranking and classification. It may also be mentioned that the LEB was created ahead of the CHED. And the CHED Chair was not given the pre-eminent position within the LEB but only as an ex-officio member. Those are very strong indicators that the CHED is not given the leading role or overarching control over LEB. To be more precise, the CHED Chair is just a member in a board led by the LEB Chair." (www.facebook.com/legal.education.board/posts/2096558467105864/)

Legal education refers to a professional educational program that cultivates and imparts an understanding of the law, its articulation in jurisprudence and the administration of justice. It is a post-baccalaureate degree program and includes both the basic law course as well as graduate courses in law. The basic law course shall either be Bachelor of Laws (Ll.B.) or Juris Doctor (J.D.). The graduate degree programs include: Master of Laws (Ll.M.), Master of Comparative Law (M.C.L.), Master of Juridical Science (M.J.S.); and the doctoral degrees, Doctor of Juridical Science (J.S.D. or S.J.D.) or Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) or any other equivalent or synonymous degree or degrees. The Doctor of Laws (Ll.D.) degree shall be conferred only honoris causa by authority of the LEB as shall be provided hereunder.

Graduates of a legal education program must possess the following competencies: a) adequate knowledge of law and its various fields, and of legal institutions; b) enhanced legal research abilities that enable them to analyze, articulate and apply the law effectively, as well as to provide them with a holistic approach to legal problems and issues; c) adequate preparedness for legal advocacy, counseling, problem-solving and decision-making, with the ability to deal with legal problems of the present and the future; d) specialized ability in the field of law as may be necessary for gainful employment or as a sufficient foundation for future training beyond the basic professional degree; e) predisposed to the highest ethical standards and sense of responsibility required of members of the legal profession; and f) passion to conscientiously pursue the ideals of the legal profession, or to exercise roles of leadership in Philippine society, as well as to occupy places of distinction in academe. (Section 19)

Juris Doctor (J.D.) is a basic law degree program that may run through four or five years, at the option of the college or university. Although classified as a "professional doctorate" degree, like the M.D. degree, it shall not however entitle in the Philippines the holder of the degree to be addressed as “Dr.,” the latter being reserved for holders of academic or research doctorate degrees. Aside from all the subjects of the Ll.B. curriculum the J.D. curriculum shall prescribe additional subjects that may be taken as electives and require besides the writing of a J.D. thesis.

However, CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera III disagrees, saying: "A PhD entails the creation of new knowledge in a field of specialization through a dissertation, which needs to be publicly presented and defended before a panel of PhD holders in a specific field of study. In many cases, it involves publication of one's research in peer-reviewed academic journals to demonstrate contribution to advanced scholarship," De Vera explained. "The Commission on Higher Education views with serious concern Resolution 2019-406 purportedly issued by the Legal Education Board, and posted on social media, that declares, inter alia, that the basic law degrees, whether Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or Juris Doctor (JD), shall be considered as equivalent to doctoral degrees in other non-law academic disciplines for purposes of appointment/employment, ranking and compensation," he added.