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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 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, etc.).


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 or advocate, judge or law professor. Less qualified professionals may be referred to as paralegals or legal executives.

Continental Europe

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, for example, 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 a 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. Alternatively, the LLM degree taken in the US would provide a German qualified lawyer with the opportunity to become a US Attorney.

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