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Law students want to retain ‘Dr’ title

Changes to the law course will remove the Doctorate of Laws (LLD) title.

James J. Piscopo
8 January 2014, 12:00am


Law students are expected to re-engage in talks with junior minister Owen Bonnici and Attorney General Peter Grech later on today, where they will once again make their stand clear that after five years of studies they want to retain the ‘Dr’ title upon graduating.

Changes to the law course resulted from the implementation of the Bologna Process, which sought to facilitate recognition of degrees and academic qualifications across Europe.

The changes will remove the Doctorate of Laws (LLD) title and replace it with Master of Laws (LLM), which means that prospective lawyers will not be honoured with a doctorate degree.

The amendments to the current setup will also see the duration of the course reduced from six years to five: four years for a bachelor in laws (LLB) and a year for the LLM. Currently, three years are taken for LLB and a further three years for an LLD.

The changes will also replace the submission of a thesis with a dissertation during fourth year, with the major difference being the shorter length) and the introduction of a logbook system in fifth year, whereby students formally report their court visits and other work experience sessions to University.

Law students already voiced their concerns in a consultation meeting organised on campus last December.

Current students believe that changes should only apply to future prospective students, who will be informed of the changes before commencing the course. They deem it unfair if it affected current students, who entered the course with the intention of attaining a doctorate.

“It doesn’t make a huge difference whether it will be LLM or LLD. But the person with an LLD, having a Dr title, will be considered superior to others. This may instigate possible discrimination at the workplace between lawyers with a Doctorate and a Masters degree,” a law student said when contacted by this newspaper. 

But not all the students give the same importance to the issue.

“The 'Dr.' title that is currently awarded amounts to nothing more than a mere honorary title. I see nothing wrong in having a shorter course, getting a bachelor degree and a master degree in 5 years and exiting university on an equal academic footing, as current practitioners carrying a Dr title,” Jake Azzopardi, a second-year student said.

Yesterday, a meeting was held between law students, Justice junior minister Owen Bonnici and the Attorney General. Another meeting is expected to take place later on today.

James J. Piscopo joined MaltaToday in 2013 after starting his career as a...
George Cassar
Every course at University is governed by the Bologna Process which started quite a while ago with the reduction of the majority of undergraduate degree from 4 to 3 years. The Lawyers-to-be should have seen this coming and spoken about it when the process started. I find it quite ironic that this Administration is having to contend with what the previous one started, for good and for worse. I also find it not fair for other students who obtain a PhD after quite a longer time than law students with 3 years for undergrad, 2 for a post-grad and a further 3 for a third cycle or PhD. But still, if with an LLM they would still be able to practice law, it doesn't matter what your title is in the end. Also, if the Dr. is removed from the newly graduated lawyers then it should also be removed from older ones as well...
Polly Bonello
To have a doctorate you must earn it! The mess at our Law Courts reflect the mediocrity of our lawyers!
brian farrugia
Why they want to be referred as doctors beats me!
Joseph Calleja
We seem to have more titled people in Malta than any other place on earth. Honestly I think and I am sure many would agree that the title of DR should be reserved for Doctors of Medicine, who are the true doctors. One could call lawyers a lot of names but please do not let them use the title DR. A lot of lawyers are nothing but scumbags as we can see in most of the corruption cases, and like I said there is a big difference between a Doctor of Medicine and a Doctor of Law.
GRACE PAVIA
Plainly clear that Maltese educated youth are ages behind current international practice, and will willingly hide beneath their mother's skirts. This is just like short girls wearing high stilettos! Do they believe that the "Dottore" prefix would elevate them to a higher rung in the social/business ladder? Is that the low esteem they hold of the modern Maltese nation, i.e. that modern Malta is mesmerised by a "noble" (sic) prefix? Or is modern youth a sad reflection of their grandfathers' gusto for titles, such as in the common variety "Profs" this and "Profs" that! Meditate gente, meditate.....