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Not to be confused with Juror
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A jurist or jurisconsult is a professional who studies, develops, applies, or otherwise deals with the law. The term is widely used in American and Canadian English, but in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries it has only historical and specialist usage. In most of continental Europe any person who possesses a degree in law and works professionally with the law is referred to with a word resembling jurist (e.g., Jurist, juriste, jurista, juristi, jurists etc.).
There is no alternative word for "jurist" in English-speaking countries outside the U.S. and Canada. Members of the general public are largely unaware of the term and are likely to confuse it with "juror". Although the word "jurist" can technically be applied to anyone having a thorough knowledge of law, American and Canadian lawyers usually use the word only to refer to a judge. The term "legal professional" may be used for convenience. Within the legal community usage of "jurist" is usually restricted to eminent judges or academics. Apart from this people working in law are usually described as "lawyers" or solicitors if they are practising law, or as belonging to a more specific branch of the legal profession, such as barrister, advocate, legal executive, judge or law professor. Less qualified professionals may be referred to as paralegals.
In some contexts, a "jurist" is not merely a person who has a thorough knowledge of the law, but one who advances the law through the scholarly application of that knowledge. As one author has explained:
A man may be both a lawyer and a jurist, but a jurist is not necessarily a lawyer, nor a lawyer necessarily a jurist. Both must possess an acquaintance with what we call the law, but that is all. The work of the jurist is the study, analysis, and arrangement of the law — work which can be done wholly in the seclusion of the library. The work of the lawyer is the satisfaction of the wishes of particular human beings for legal assistance — work which requires dealing to some extent therefore with people in the office, in the court room, or in the market-place. The relative importance of the lawyer and the jurist is not material to this discussion.
Any highly civilized society requires both lawyers and jurists, both philosophers and men of affairs. As a mere matter of fact, there is a greater demand for men of affairs than for philosophers, for lawyers than for jurists; but the number of persons which the interests of society require should engage in a particular occupation, has nothing to do with the question of the importance of the different kinds of work done by those persons. It is important however to note the fundamental difference between the work of the lawyer and that of the jurist.
In some of Continental Europe, a jurist in a general sense can refer to anyone with a degree in law (e.g., a bachelor or master of laws) or who works with or studies the law. More specifically the term "Jurist" or "Jurist d'entreprise" is used in French to refer to lawyers working inside a company, a position variously called an "In-house lawyer", "Compliance officer", or "General legal counsel" in English-speaking countries. Such jurists can practice law as employees hired by law firms or legal departments of other business entities. Being a jurist does not necessarily mean that one has the privileges usually attributed to an "attorney" or a "solicitor".
Russia and Ukraine
Law degree - jurist (often compared to an LL.M., but in fact equivalent to the degree of Specialist specific to the Soviet educational system) is awarded in Russia and Ukraine after 5 years of study at a university. Jurist degree may also be awarded in a shorter period of time if a law student has already completed Bachelor or Specialist degree in another field of studies or has previously earned a basic law degree (comparable to Paralegal, an Associate degree in U.S.) from a specialized law college. Bachelor jurist degree (equivalent to Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.)) may be earned concurrently with another Bachelor or Master degree in some universities (comparable to a double-major). Note that this fused, one-degree (Specialist) educational scheme has coexisted with the two-degree (bachelor's - master's) scheme since Russia and Ukraine launched their higher education reforms to bring the domestic educational systems in closer compliance with the Bologna accords. See also academic degree. The latest educational reforms created new system where a four-year law program is offered at the universities for earning Bachelor's degree, and a five-year law program is offered for Master's degree. The degree of Specialist is no longer awarded and is renamed into Master degree.
- ^ Melville Madison Bigelow, Centralization and the Law: Scientific Legal Education (1906), p. 219.