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The literal, simplistic definition of a jurist is a person who happens to be learned in the law, such as a legal scholar or a lawyer. In actuality, a jurist is an individual who is an expert and does research on jurisprudence. Technically, a jurist refers to a noteworthy influential individual such as a judge, a legal scholar, or a lawyer whose skill is so well renowned that the individual has attained such an authority that their writings and arguments are also seen as a source of law too. An example of this meaning would be a Supreme Court Justice.
It should be noted that although a jurist can be a
lawyer, and a lawyer can be a jurist, the two terms are not necessarily interchangeable. The jurist is a legal scholar who studies, analyzes, and comments on the law. Indeed, their entire work can be done inside a law library. On the other hand, the lawyer is representing clients and performs the work for the satisfaction of their clients’ interests.
[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]