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  1. A master is an antiquated term which referred to an employer and has since been supplanted by the latter term. A master is also a party in a relationship between a master and servant, which is now primarily referred to as the employment relationship. This relationship can exist, for example, between an employer and an employee or an employer and an independent contractor.
  2. A master, also known as a special master, is a court-appointed officer who is given authority to operate similarly to a judge but in a limited manner so as to facilitate a court’s proceedings. The duties of a master include handling various pretrial affairs such as conducting investigations on land titles, recording testimony, resolving discovery disputes, or even deciding certain issues in a case. A master usually submits a written report to the court after carrying out these duties. Appointment of masters is governed by Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]