In law, the bar is the legal profession as an institution. The term is a metonym for the line (or "bar") that separates the parts of a courtroom reserved for spectators and those reserved for participants in a trial such as lawyers.
In the United Kingdom, the term "the bar" refers only to the professional organization for barristers (referred to in Scotland as advocates); the other type of UK lawyer, solicitors, have their own body, the Law Society. Correspondingly, being "called to the bar" refers to admission to the profession of barristers, not solicitors.
The origin of the term bar is from the barring furniture dividing a medieval European courtroom.In the US, Europe and many other countries referring to the law traditions of Europe, the area in front of the barrage is restricted to participants in the trial: the judge or judges, other court officials, the jury (if any), the lawyers for each party, the parties to the case, and witnesses giving testimony. The area behind the bar is open to the public. This restriction is enforced in nearly all courts. In most courts, the bar is represented by a physical partition: a railing or barrier that serves as a bar.
The bar may also refer to the qualifying procedure by which a lawyer is licensed to practice law in a given jurisdiction.
In the United States, this procedure is administered by the individual U.S. states and their respective bar associations. In general, a candidate must graduate from a qualified law school and pass a written test: the bar examination . Almost all states use the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a multiple-choice exam administered on one day of a two- or three-day test. An increasing number use the Uniform Bar Examination, which includes the MBE. In either case, on days during which the MBE is not administered, the bar exam may include questions related to that state's laws. If the candidate reaches the score required by a particular state, the candidate is then admitted to the bar . A lawyer whose license to practice law is revoked is said to be disbarred .
State bar associations may set additional requirements to bar admission such as trial and court observations, character and background screenings, or an additional examination on professional ethics.
Admission to practice before the patent section of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) requires that the individual pass a separate, single-day examination administered by that agency. This test is typically referred to as the "patent bar", although the word "bar" does not appear in the test's official name.
Unlike the general bar examination, for which graduation from a recognized law school is a prerequisite, the USPTO exam does not require that the candidate have taken any law school courses. Instead, the main prerequisite is a science or engineering background, most often met with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. Individuals who pass the examination are referred to as "patent attorneys" if they have an active law license from any U.S. jurisdiction, and "patent agents" otherwise. Attorneys and agents have the same license to represent clients before the patent section of the USPTO, and both may issue patentability opinions. However, any other patent-related practice (such as licensing or infringement litigation) can only be performed by licensed attorneys—who do not necessarily have to be USPTO-licensed.
In the United Kingdom, the practice of law is divided between barristers (advocates in Scotland) and solicitors; advocacy before a court is almost always carried out by barristers (or advocates). A person who becomes an advocate or barrister is referred to as being called to the bar . In the UK, there is a distinction between the inner bar (for senior King's counsel) and the outer bar (for Junior barristers).
The bar commonly refers to the legal profession as a whole. With a modifier, it may refer to a branch or division of the profession: as, for instance, the tort bar—lawyers who specialize in filing civil suits for damages.
In conjunction with bench, bar may differentiate lawyers who represent clients (the bar) from judges or members of a judiciary ( the bench ). In this sense, the bar advocates and the bench adjudicates. Yet, in some countries, judges who previously worked as lawyers representing clients commonly remain members of the bar and lawyers are commonly referenced as Officers of the Court.
The phrase bench and bar denotes all judges and lawyers collectively.
A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialise in courtroom advocacy and litigation. Their tasks include arguing cases in courts and tribunals, drafting legal pleadings, researching the law and giving legal opinions.
A lawyer is a person who practices law. The role of a lawyer varies greatly across different legal jurisdictions. A lawyer can be classified as an advocate, government lawyer, attorney, barrister, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, solicitor, legal executive, or public servant — with each role having different functions and privileges. Working as a lawyer generally involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific problems. Some lawyers also work primarily in advancing the interests of the law and legal profession.
An advocate is a professional in the field of law. Different countries' legal systems use the term with somewhat differing meanings. The broad equivalent in many English law–based jurisdictions could be a barrister or a solicitor. However, in Scottish, Manx, South African, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Scandinavian, Polish, Israeli, South Asian and South American jurisdictions, "advocate" indicates a lawyer of superior classification.
A solicitor is a legal practitioner who traditionally deals with most of the legal matters in some jurisdictions. A person must have legally-defined qualifications, which vary from one jurisdiction to another, to be described as a solicitor and enabled to practise there as such. For example, in England and Wales a solicitor is admitted to practise under the provisions of the Solicitors Act 1974. With some exceptions, practising solicitors must possess a practising certificate. There are many more solicitors than barristers in England; they undertake the general aspects of giving legal advice and conducting legal proceedings.
An attorney at law in the United States is a practitioner in a court of law who is legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in court on the retainer of clients. As of April 2011, there were 1,225,452 licensed attorneys in the United States. A 2012 survey conducted by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell determined 58 million consumers in the U.S. sought an attorney in the last year and that 76 percent of consumers used the Internet to search for an attorney.
A bar association is a professional association of lawyers as generally organized in countries following the Anglo-American types of jurisprudence. The word bar is derived from the old English/European custom of using a physical railing to separate the area in which court business is done from the viewing area for the general public.
Legal education is the education of individuals in the principles, practices, and theory of law. It may be undertaken for several reasons, including to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for admission to legal practice in a particular jurisdiction, to provide a greater breadth of knowledge to those working in other professions such as politics or business, to provide current lawyers with advanced training or greater specialisation, or to update lawyers on recent developments in the law.
The call to the bar is a legal term of art in most common law jurisdictions where persons must be qualified to be allowed to argue in court on behalf of another party and are then said to have been "called to the bar" or to have received "call to the bar". "The bar" is now used as a collective noun for barristers, but literally referred to the wooden barrier in old courtrooms, which separated the often crowded public area at the rear from the space near the judges reserved for those having business with the court. Barristers would sit or stand immediately behind it, facing the judge, and could use it as a table for their briefs.
Admission to the bar in the United States is the granting of permission by a particular court system to a lawyer to practice law in the jurisdiction. Each U.S. state and jurisdiction has its own court system and sets its own rules and standards for bar admission. In most cases, a person is admitted or called to the bar of the highest court in the jurisdiction and is thereby authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction. Federal courts, although often overlapping in admission standards with states, set their own requirements.
Legal ethics are principles of conduct that members of the legal profession are expected to observe in their practice. They are an outgrowth of the development of the legal profession itself.
A bar examination is an examination administered by the bar association of a jurisdiction that a lawyer must pass in order to be admitted to the bar of that jurisdiction.
A patent attorney is an attorney who has the specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patents and acting in all matters and procedures relating to patent law and practice, such as filing patent applications and oppositions to granted patents.
The State Bar of California is California's official attorney licensing agency. It is responsible for managing the admission of lawyers to the practice of law, investigating complaints of professional misconduct, prescribing appropriate discipline, accepting attorney-member fees, and financially distributing sums paid through attorney trust accounts to fund nonprofit legal entities. It is directly responsible to the Supreme Court of California; however, its Trustees are now appointed by the Supreme Court, the California Legislature, and Governor of California. All attorney admissions are issued as recommendations of the State Bar, which are then routinely ratified by the Supreme Court. Attorney discipline is handled by the State Bar Office of Chief Trial Counsel, which acts as prosecutor before the State Bar Court of California.
A law school is an institution or professional school specializing in legal education, usually involved as part of a process for becoming a judge, lawyer, or other legal professional within a given jurisdiction.
An admission to practice law is acquired when a lawyer receives a license to practice law. In jurisdictions with two types of lawyer, as with barristers and solicitors, barristers must gain admission to the bar whereas for solicitors there are distinct practising certificates.
A training contract is a compulsory period of practical training in a law firm for law graduates before they can qualify as a solicitor in the United Kingdom (UK), the Republic of Ireland, Australia or Hong Kong, or as an advocate and solicitor in Singapore. During the training period, the participant is known as a trainee solicitor or trainee lawyer.
An Attorney at law in Sri Lanka is the only legal practitioners authorised to represent others in all court of law in the island and are also authorised to give advice regarding any matter of law. Alternative terms include lawyer.
The Legal profession in England and Wales is divided into two distinct branches under the legal system, those of solicitors and barristers. Other legal professions in England and Wales include acting as a judge, as the Attorney-General, as the Solicitor-General, or as the Director of Public Prosecutions.
In the United States, those seeking to become lawyers must normally pass a bar examination before they can be admitted to the bar and become licensed to practice law. Bar exams are administered by states or territories, generally by agencies under the authority of state supreme courts. Almost all states use some examination components created by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). Forty-one jurisdictions have adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), which is composed entirely of NCBE-created components.