- This article is about the use of the term "jurist". For the University of Pittsburgh School of Law's legal news and research website, see JURIST.
A jurist or jurisconsult is a professional who studies, develops, applies or otherwise deals with the law. The term is widely used in American 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 is called a jurist.
English speaking countries
There is no alternative word for "jurist" in English-speaking countries outside the U.S. 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 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 practicing law, or as belonging to a more specific branch of the legal profession, such as barrister
, judge or law professor. Less qualified professionals may be referred to as paralegals
In some of Continental Europe
, anyone with a degree in law (e.g., a bachelor
or master of laws
) may be called a jurist. 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 "attorney
" or "solicitor". In Germany e.g. you do a first Examination ("Erstes Staatsexamen") after four years of University studies. If you pass the Examination you are a "Referendar jur." ("Jurist"). With this you can apply to a two year post-university education called "Referendariat". If you do this, you are employed by a German State Government and work in several positions; normally: judge assistant, assistant to an public prosecutor, civil servant and assistant to a "barrister". Then you have to do a second Examination ("Zweites Staatsexamen"). If you pass it, you are a ("Assessor jur.") ("Volljurist"). With this title, you can apply as a judge, public prosecutor, civil servant or you can work as a Rechtsanwalt ("barrister"). Independently from this, some German universities offer LLM
studies, but they do not give anyone the qualification to apply for one of the jobs mentioned above. For this reason an LLM is considered as a degree without real benefit.
Russia and Ukraine
- 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
after 5 years of study at a university
. Note that this fused, one-degree educational scheme has coexisted with the two-degree (bachelor's - master's) scheme since Russia launched its higher education reform to bring the domestic educational system in closer compliance with the Bologna accords
. See also academic degree
In the Muslim world, where Sharia (Islamic law) is common, jurists are known as Ulema, who specialize in Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). In order to become an Islamic jurist, it is required for a student to receive an ijazat attadris wa 'l-ifttd ("license to teach and issue legal opinions"), equivalent to the Juris Doctor and Doctor of Laws qualifications, from a Madrasah or Jami'ah, equivalent to a college and university respectively. This system of legal education dates back to the 9th century, during the classical period of Islam.