I know “J.D.” stands for “Juris Doctor.” I get that at commencement somebody probably proclaimed that law school graduates were “doctors of laws.” All that said, the lawyer who refers to himself as “Dr.” So-and-So has got to be the biggest d-bag on the planet. Bigger even than the tool who runs around calling himself So-and-So, Esquire.
On Adjunct Law Prof Blog, Mitchell H. Rubinstein asks if lawyers are considered doctors. It’s an easy question to me. I don’t even think Ph.D. holders should call themselves “doctors” unless they can prescribe medicinal marijuana or something.
But hey, I’m just the guy who thinks lawyers should generally avoid saying things that make the general public think, “What a self-important a**hole.”
As per usual, the American Bar Association has no such compunctions. And we already know that the organization is strangely committed to making sure as many people go to law school under false pretenses as possible.
So you can guess which way the ABA comes out on this issue….
To call yourself a doctor, you have to argue that a J.D. is the equivalent of a Ph.D. I know that a lot of lawyers would like to equate one year of fear and learning followed by two years of waiting to take the bar exam with nearly a decade of in-depth study and writing, but it’s really not the same.
Lawyers are arguably vastly more economically useful than graduates of Ph.D. programs. There are some who continue their training after law school so that they become true masters of law; usually we call these people “justices.” But your average, run-of-the-mill law program is not at the level of a Ph.D. program.
But why would the ABA admit that? It’s much more fun to listen to freshly minted law graduates say things like “it’s really just like a Ph.D.” to their managers at Wal-Mart Law.
Here’s the ABA statement on the issue:
J.D. Degree – Ph.D. Degree Equivalency
WHEREAS, the acquisition of a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree requires from 84 to 90 semester hours of post baccalaureate study and the Doctor of Philosophy degree usually requires 60 semester hours of post baccalaureate study along with the writing of a dissertation, the two degrees shall be considered as equivalent degrees for educational employment purposes;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that all appropriate persons be requested to eliminate any policy, or practice, existing within their jurisdiction which disparages legal education or promotes discriminatory employment practices against J.D. degree-holders who hold academic appointment in education institutions.
I dunno, my uncle got a philosophy Ph.D. and now teaches at UNC-Charlotte. It’s not going to come as a galloping shock to anybody around here that my uncle had to study much harder for his degree than I had to study for mine. And he had to write a book. His last “exam” was having to defend his dissertation. My last exam to get my J.D. was a three-hour, in-class, open-book, multiple-choice test in “environmental law,” and a 14-page paper I wrote between the end of the exam (noon) and the deadline at 5:00 p.m. (Obligatory thanks to Rob [You Know Who You Are], who reminded me about the paper walking out of the exam, thus enabling me to graduate on time.)
You get my point. Law school can be hard, especially for that first year (or if you are an idiot). But unless you are gunning for a prestigious clerkship or got locked out of the 2L summer job market, at least a third of your legal education can be completed with your eyes closed. The “big scary test,” the bar exam, you take after you get your J.D.
That last point should end this debate. Imagine yourself at a dinner party; one person who has a Ph.D. in, say, chemistry, is announced as Dr. Chemist. Sitting next to you is a person who went to wherever law school and failed the bar. He leans over and says to you, “You know, I’m a doctor, too.”
Don’t you want to punch that person in the mouth?
Is A J.D. Degree The Same As A P.h.D?? [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]
Earlier: A Juris ‘Doctors’ Facebook Movement