What Makes A Good Jurist?

A Jurist is one who has thorough knowledge and experience of the law, especially an eminent judge, lawyer, or legal scholar.

First things first, a little definition/word origin refresher;

A lawyer is a person who practices law, whereas a judge is a person who presides over the law.

Lawyer – One versed in law, one whose profession is cases/suits in court or client advice on legal rights, from Middle English ‘lawe-er’ or One who does Law.

Judge – from the French word ‘juger’ meaning to form an opinion about something.

Magistrate – is defined as an official entrusted with administration of the laws, and is derived from the Middle English word ‘magestrat’ meaning a civil officer that is in charge of administrating laws.

Attorney – One appointed by another to act in his place, from Old French ‘atorné’ (one) appointed.

A lawyer is a hired gun. They ‘advocate’ for their client even if their client is the ‘People of the State of…’ A lawyer can afford to be difficult, fast and loose with the facts, argumentative, and creative with her legal reasoning. Some would argue that is actually her job. The Judge is in charge of making legal decisions, but also of enforcing demeanor and respectability in the court.

I personally never liked lawyers who make thin arguments with a flair for the overly dramatic. There are also lots of lawyers whose ethics are questionable in my opinion. Some people think this is what you are really paying the big bucks for, a dog and pony show worthy of day time TV.

I spent my whole career as an attorney working against that stripe of lawyer. I feel like your job is to inform your client of the law, argue the facts and present a strong position without straying into cheesiness or the telling of half-truths.

It is not an easy line to walk.

It’s got Nasty Big Pointy Teeth

Reputation is everything. Some are feared, some respected. Others are disdained or milquetoasty. Many are a combination of a myriad of adjectives both good and bad.

The Judge is a Horse of a Different Color.

Starting with position and appearance. The Judge sits higher than others in the courtroom. The black robe is considered a reminder of the law and a symbol of neutrality. The gavel is to maintain order, but is largely symbolic at this point.

According to the American Bar Association, judicial temperament means that a judge exhibits “compassion, decisiveness, open-mindedness, sensitivity, courtesy, patience, freedom from bias and commitment to equal justice.”

Socrates aptly described the essential qualities of a good judge: “Four things belong to a judge: To hear courteously; to answer wisely; to consider soberly; and to decide impartially.”

Why did I pursue a career in law? Read about that here.

For awhile, I switched jobs from advocating to the other side of the bench. I felt that fully 50% of my job was to make sure everyone in front me understood what was going around them. I dealt with the general public most of time and I felt it was important that when they leave court, even when they were unhappy, at least they knew the how and why of the Judgement.

We all bring our own life experiences along with us everywhere we go. Sort of like a backpack of murky unconscious insights, intuitions, and instincts. 

Justice needs to be devoid of prejudice or preconceived notions.

Trying to simultaneously be Fair, Knowledgeable, Communicative, and Impartial is a tall order.

People mostly want to be listened to, listening is a big part of your job.

Respect has become a two way street with our institutions nowadays. A Judge is the actual manifestation of the Rule of Law and our Justice System. This demands respect, but it must also be deserving of respect.





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