Legal Dictionary

Bachelor of Laws

Legal Definition of Bachelor of Laws

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Definition of Bachelor of Laws


Bachelor of Laws

  1. (law) A collegiate degree, usually involving three years of study that involves the study of law.

Further reading

The Bachelor of Laws (abbreviated LL.B., LLB, or rarely, Ll.B.) is an undergraduate, or bachelor, degree in law (or a first professional degree in law, depending on jurisdiction) originating in England and offered in most common law countries as the primary law degree. In English-speaking Canada it is sometimes referred to as a post-graduate degree because previous university education is usually required for admission. The "LL." of the abbreviation for the degree is from the genitive plural legum (of lex, legis f., law), thus "LL.B." stands for Legum Baccalaureus in Latin.

The United States is the only common law country that no longer offers the LL.B. While the LL.B. was conferred until 1971 at Yale University, since that time, all universities in the United States have awarded the professional doctorate J.D., which then became the required degree for the practice of law. It is sometimes erroneously called "Bachelor of Legal Letters" to account for the double "L". Historically, in Canada, Bachelor of Laws was the name of the first degree in common law, but is also the name of the first degree in Quebec civil law awarded by a number of Quebec universities. Canadian common-law LL.B. programs are, in practice, second-entry professional degrees, meaning that the vast majority of those admitted to an LL.B. programme are already holders of one or more degrees, or, at a minimum (with very few exceptions), have completed two years of study in a first-entry, undergraduate degree in another discipline.

Bachelor of Laws is also the name of the first degree in Scots law and South African law (both being pluralistic legal systems that are based partly on common law and partly on civil law) awarded by a number of universities in Scotland and South Africa, respectively.

Structure of LL.B. programmes

Historically, law students studied both civil law and common law. Today, this is much less common. However, a few institutions, such as Cardiff University's Department of Canon (Ecclesiastical) Law and McGill University's and the University of Ottawa's combined programme, continue to offer alternatives to the common law.

Common law nations generally

In most common law countries (with the exception of Canada, and the United States), the Bachelor of Laws programme is generally entered directly after completion of secondary school. In England and Wales it is also possible to study a programme for conversion to the legal profession following completion of a previous undergraduate degree unrelated to law (the Graduate Diploma in Law), which entitles graduates to take the vocational courses for entry into the legal profession. Master's courses are also offered to university graduates, those who graduate from such courses are entitled to use the initials LL.M..


As a commonwealth country, Malaysia practices common law system as practiced in the United Kingdom. In Malaysia, public universities which offer the Bachelor of Laws programme require students to have a qualification higher than the Malaysia Certificate of Education (which is equivalent to the O Level), in which students will get the certificate after the completion of their secondary studies. In doing so, students who wish to pursue their education by doing the Bachelor of Laws need to do the A-Levels examination, the Malaysia Higher School Certificate, enroll into any foundation programme or obtain a diploma. Generally, the Bachelor of Laws in Malaysia consists of civil law subjects, but there are institutions such as Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws (International Islamic University Malaysia) and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia that include Sharia or Islamic law courses as requirements for graduation.

The Bachelor of Laws programme in Malaysia can be divided into three types. The first type is the programme which is offered by the public universities. All public universities which offer the LL.B. (Hons) programme, with the exception of Universiti Teknologi MARA had their students to undergo four years of study in order to obtain the Bachelor of Laws (Hons). Upon graduating, the students need to read in chambers in order for them to practice as advocates and solicitors.

The second type of Bachelor of Laws is the one offered by the Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM). In UiTM, the students will undergo a three year degree programme known as the Bachelor of Legal Studies (Hons). Upon completion of the programme, the students can choose either to work as legal advisors / legal executives but they are not fully qualified to apply to be advocates and solicitors. If they choose to practice as advocates and solicitors, they will be vetted and short-listed to pursue with a one year LL.B (Hons) programme. The places for UiTM's LL.B (Hons) programme are limited and those who are not qualified need to do the Certificate in Legal Practice examination if they still wish to practice law. The Bachelor of Laws in UiTM is recognized as a professional examination and as such, the students study in a simulation environment where they are given offices and designated in firms. Upon graduation, the students need to read in chambers for nine month before being called to the Bar.

The third type of the programme is offered by private institutions. Most private institutions in Malaysia offer the Bachelor of Laws programme through twinning with foreign universities, normally from the United Kingdom or Australia. As such, students may opt either to do their degree two years in Malaysia and the final year at the foreign universities (2+1), one year in Malaysia and two years at the foreign universities (1+2) or to do the whole three years in Malaysia (3+0). The last option is normally conducted through the University of London International Programme. However, as other foreign universities law graduates, graduates from private institutions who read law through twinning programmes need to take the Certificate in Legal Practice examination before they are allowed to read in chambers.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


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