A bencher or Master of the Bench is a senior member of an Inn of Court in England and Wales or the Inns of Court in Northern Ireland, or the Honorable Society of King's Inns in Ireland. Benchers hold office for life once elected. A bencher can be elected while still a barrister (usually, but not always, Queen's Counsel in the UK or Senior Counsel in Ireland), in recognition of the contribution that the barrister has made to the life of the Inn or to the law. Others become benchers as a matter of course when appointed as a High Court judge. The Inn may elect non-members as honorary benchers – for example, distinguished judges and lawyers from other countries, eminent non-lawyers or (in the English Inns) members of the British Royal Family, who become known as "Royal Benchers" once elected.
One member of each Inn is the Treasurer, a position which is held for one year only. While succession to the post of Treasurer was once dependent purely on seniority, this is no longer the case. The Treasurer is now elected. Two Readers are also elected each year.
Historically, the most junior student barristers were only permitted to watch moot court trials and stood within the bar of the moot courtroom. More qualified barristers (known in England as "outer" or "utter" barristers) were permitted to join the argument and stood outside the bar. The most senior barristers were permitted to sit on the bench at moots. This third class of barristers became known as "Benchers" or "Masters of the Bench".
The practices and regulations vary from Inn to Inn, but the benchers are the ultimate governing body of the relevant Inn. The benchers govern the finances of the Inn, and they alone have the authority to admit students, to call students to the bar, and to elect other benchers. Today, the benchers of the four English Inns have common standards agreed with the Bar Council. They have the formal power to discipline members of their Inn by suspending or expelling them from membership of the Inn, and by disbarring them. Disciplinary functions are now shared with the Council of the Inns of Court, the Bar Standards Board and its Complaints Committee (formerly known as the Professional Conduct and Complaints Committee).
The terms bencher and treasurer are in use by the legal profession in Canada. A bencher in the Canadian context is a member of the board of directors of a provincial law society. Most benchers are lawyers, but in some provinces there are also lay benchers who represent the public interest.In some provinces the head of the board is known as the treasurer. Paralegals are also elected as benchers, in those provinces where law societies govern their profession.
A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialise in courtroom advocacy and litigation. Their tasks include taking cases in superior courts and tribunals, drafting legal pleadings, researching the philosophy, hypothesis and history of law, and giving expert legal opinions.
In the United Kingdom and in some Commonwealth countries, a Queen's Counsel during the reign of a queen, or King's Counsel during the reign of a king, is a lawyer who is a senior counsel in court cases; in important cases each side is typically led by one. Technically, they are appointed by the monarch of the country to be one of 'Her [His] Majesty's Counsel learned in the law'. The position originated in England. Some Commonwealth countries have either abolished the position, or renamed it so as to remove monarchical connotations, for example, 'Senior Counsel' or 'Senior Advocate'.
The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, commonly known simply as Middle Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court exclusively entitled to call their members to the English Bar as barristers, the others being the Inner Temple, Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn. It is located in the wider Temple area of London, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.
The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in London to which barristers of England and Wales belong and where they are called to the Bar. Lincoln's Inn, along with the three other Inns of Court, is recognised as being one of the world's most prestigious professional bodies of judges and lawyers.
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as the Inner Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, a person must belong to one of these Inns. It is located in the wider Temple area of the capital, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.
The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, commonly known as Gray's Inn, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, a person must belong to one of these inns. Located at the intersection of High Holborn and Gray's Inn Road in Central London, the inn is both a professional body and a provider of office accommodation (chambers) for many barristers. It is ruled by a governing council called "pension", made up of the masters of the bench, and led by the Treasurer, who is elected to serve a one-year term. The inn is known for its gardens, or walks, which have existed since at least 1597.
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.
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.
The Inns of Court in London are the professional associations for barristers in England and Wales. There are four Inns of Court – Gray's Inn, Lincoln's Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple.
Bachelor of Laws is an undergraduate law degree in the United Kingdom and most common law jurisdictions. Bachelor of Laws is also the name of the law degree awarded by universities in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Israel, Brazil and Zambia. The bachelor of laws was also the primary law degree in the United States historically, but was phased out in favour of the Juris Doctor degree in the 1960s.
Dermot Gleeson SC is an Irish barrister who served as Attorney General of Ireland from 1994 to 1997.
The Honorable Society of King's Inns is the "Inn of Court" for the Bar of Ireland. The Benchers of King's Inns award the degree of barrister-at-law necessary to qualify as a barrister be called to the bar in Ireland. As well as training future and qualified barristers, the School extends its reach to a diverse community of people from legal and non-legal backgrounds offering a range of accessible part-time courses in specialist areas of the law. King's Inns is also a centre of excellence in promoting the use of the Irish language in the law.
A Serjeant-at-Law (SL), commonly known simply as a Serjeant, was a member of an order of barristers at the English and Irish bar. The position of Serjeant-at-Law, or Sergeant-Counter, was centuries old; there are writs dating to 1300 which identify them as descended from figures in France before the Norman Conquest, thus the Serjeants are said to be the oldest formally created order in England. The order rose during the 16th century as a small, elite group of lawyers who took much of the work in the central common law courts.
Barristers in England and Wales are one of the two main categories of lawyer in England and Wales, the other being solicitors. Barristers have traditionally had the role of handling cases for representation in court, both defence and prosecution.
The Law Society of British Columbia is the regulatory body for lawyers in British Columbia, Canada.
The Bar of Northern Ireland is the association of barristers for Northern Ireland, with over 600 members. It is based in the Bar Library, part of the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast, together with the Bar Council of Northern Ireland and the Executive Council. The Executive Council has taken on many of the functions formerly exercised by the Benchers of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland, which was established at a meeting of the Bench and Bar held on 11 January 1926.
The Law Society of Alberta (LSA) is the self-regulating body for lawyers in Alberta, Canada. Its main office in Alberta is located at Suite 700 - 333 11th Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta T2R 1L9.
The Bar of Ireland is the regulatory and representative body for barristers practising law in Ireland, active since 1897. The General Council of the Bar of Ireland is composed of twenty-five members: twenty who are elected, four co-opted, and the Attorney-General, who holds office ex officio. Every year ten members are elected for two-year terms, five by senior counsel and five by junior counsel.
Legal professions in England and Wales are divided between 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 a Solicitor-General, or as the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Paul B. Schabas is a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.