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What is a Juris Doctor (JD) degree?

Mike Dilnot

Careers Commentator
The Juris Doctor (JD) is a professional degree for graduates of disciplines other than law, or for those who previously studied law abroad.

Students who have taken undergraduate studies in disciplines other than law, but now wish to make the transition into a legal career may opt to study the postgraduate Juris Doctor (JD). Consisting of 17 compulsory and seven elective modules, the program is an internationally recognised basis for entry into legal practice. Programs typically begin with foundation studies of private, public and criminal law, before proceeding to focus on specific areas such as tort, property and contract law. The elective element of the program allows students to choose from modules such as corporate and commercial law, dispute resolution, and legal practice. By the end of the program, students will have an advanced understanding of how laws are created, interpreted and applied in daily life.

The JD program is ideal for those looking to make the transition into a legal career and opens the gateway to employment in both legal practice and the legal functions of government and business. Completion of the program qualifies an individual for admission to the College of Law to complete their practical legal training (PLT), the prerequisite program for those wishing to practice law in Australia. Having then received a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP), graduates are entitled to apply for admission as a legal practitioner, opening the door to positions such as solicitor, barrister, judge’s associate and government lawyers. There is also tremendous demand for high-flying Australian JD graduates internationally, with placements in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and the USA particularly common.

Most graduates can expect to earn a minimum of $70,000 per annum upon completion of the program, with that figure easily tripling as they gain professional experience. Law is sometimes referred to as a ‘grey-haired profession’, meaning that remuneration as a proportion of the time and effort invested generally keeps increasing with experience.