Why does J.D. come before LL.M.?

Seems like almost every graduate field puts the master’s degree before the doctoral degree (at least those which offer a master’s degree), but in the field of law, a master’s degree can be more advanced than a J.D./LL.D. which are ostensibly “doctorates”. Granted, relatively few J.D. grads see the need to go further with a specialized LL.M. path, but it’s still rather odd that after getting a doctorate, someone would have to do additional study to earn a master’s degree in the same field.

Also, it seems that in the old days, a lot of initial law degrees were LL.B. When did the shift toward J.D./LL.D. begin and why? Was it just because Juris Doctor sounded more impressive, or because of the L.L. Bean jokes? Does any law school still offer the LL.B.?

This is just all just a WAG until more authoritative dopers can answer. Most American law schools shifted from calling their basic degree LLBs to JDs in the early to mid-20th century, so that law graduates would seem on par with graduates from other departments (who were getting PhDs). Law schools still offer the higher degrees of LLMs and JSDs. Many foreign law schools still confer the LLB degree upon their graduates. Of course, in many foreign countries, law school is not a graduate program but rather an undergraduate one.

** Mr. Hand** is correct. DePaul U. in 1966 (when I got my law degree, which is a JD) gave a JD if you obtained a high enough average; otherwise you got an LLB. I understand that most schools now just give a JD. So, an LLM is, of course, a higher degree.

In Canada, I think all the law schools except Toronto give LL.B. degrees. The U. of T. is trying to look more like a U.S. school, so it changed the name of the degree to J.D. a few years back, without, as far as I can tell, changing the academic program a whit. As well, I’ve heard from U. of T. grads who graduated from before the switchover that the Law School offered to issue them a shiny new J.D. degree to replace their old-fashioned LL.B. degree. It’s all just a marketing ploy.

Personally, I worked hard for my degrees and don’t see any need to change them.

Piper, LL.B., LL.B.

No accredited law school in the United States does. From the American Bar Association’s Standards for Approval of Law Schools and Interpretations – Chapter 3: Program of Legal Education:

I found no standard that would permit an accredited law school to call their J.D. something else, either.