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The call to the baris 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.
Like many other common law terms, the term originated in England in the Middle Ages, and the call to the bar refers to the summons issued to one found fit to speak at the "bar" of the royal courts. In time, English judges allowed only legally qualified men to address them on the law and later delegated the qualification and admission of barristers to the four Inns of Court. Once an inn calls one of its members to its bar, they are thereafter a barrister. They may not, however, practise as a barrister until they have completed (or been exempted from) an apprenticeship called pupillage . After completing pupillage, they are considered to be a practising barrister with a right of audience before all courts.
England and Wales and some other jurisdictions distinguish two types of lawyers, who are regulated by different bodies, with separate training, examinations, regulation and traditions:
A solicitor must qualify as a solicitor-advocate in order to acquire the same "higher rights" of audience as a barrister. In other jurisdictions, the terminology and the degree of overlap between the roles of solicitor and barrister varies greatly; in most, the distinction has disappeared entirely.
Common law jurisdictions include Australia, England and Wales, New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Nigeria, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and most jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Nations and the United States (the See also section below contains links to articles on the laws of these jurisdictions).
In Australia, the status of the legal profession differs from state to state:
Most Australian barristers will have previously worked as solicitors prior to becoming barristers.
Candidates wishing to become barristers may have to pass an examination and undergo further specialised training before those candidates are "called to the bar" or "sign the roll of counsel". Both the examination and the further training are administered by the state's bar association:
Upon completing the relevant training course, new barristers ("readers") are required to spend a period of months "reading" in the chambers of an experienced barrister, called the reader's "tutor" (in New South Wales) or "mentor" (in Victoria) (historically, this experienced barrister was called the new barrister's "pupil master"). This "reading" period serves as a kind of practical apprenticeship for the new barrister, who works in the same chambers as their tutor/mentor and is able to learn by observing their tutor/mentor, as well as actively seeking their guidance.
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In common law Canadian provinces, despite the unified legal profession (lawyers are qualified as both barristers and solicitors), the certificate issued by the provincial Law Society to the newly qualified lawyer generally indicates his or her having been called to the bar and admitted as a solicitor.
In Ontario and Manitoba, there are two certificates, one issued by the respective provincial Law Society for call to the bar and the other by the Superior Court (Ontario) or Court of Queen's Bench (Manitoba) for admission as a solicitor.
In Ontario, being called to the bar requires students to article (apprentice) with a law firm for ten months, but due to a shortage of articling positions available each year and an influx of articling candidates, a pilot alternative program available through the University of Ottawa and Toronto Metropolitan University was established. The Law Practice Program requires the articling students to spend four months in a virtual law office and to spend another four months in a work placement.
Alberta and Prince Edward Island are the only common law jurisdictions with individual, rather than group, calls.The student's supervisor, referred to as his or her principal, makes an oral application to the Provincial Court of Alberta or Court of Queen's Bench, or the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island, respectively, to have the student called to the bar. Gowns are worn and the ceremony is public, with the presiding judge (or judges) welcoming the new member with a speech written specifically for that call.
In Quebec, a civil law notary is very similar to a solicitor.
In England and Wales, a call ceremony takes place at the barrister's Inn of Court (or at Temple Church for members of the Inner Temple), before or during the pupillage year. A barrister is called to the utter ("outer") bar or "appointed to the degree of the utter bar". Those appointed as King's Counsel are entitled to plead from "within the bar" in court.
In Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers. Candidates wishing to qualify as barristers must complete a series of examinations at the Honorable Society of King's Inns. Successful candidates are called to the Bar by the Chief Justice in the Supreme Court. Upon being called to the bar, a barrister becomes a member of the Outer Bar, or "Junior Counsel". Some barristers may subsequently be called to the Inner Bar in a similar ceremony, gaining the title "Senior Counsel".
As in Canada, the legal profession is fused. A lawyer in New Zealand is admitted as either a "barrister sole" or a "barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand".Once admitted, New Zealand's "barrister and solicitors" are able to practise in either mode provided they hold a practising certificate, while barristers sole are entitled only to practice as a barrister. Admission is overseen by the New Zealand Law Society.
As in New Zealand, there is no formal distinction between barristers and solicitors. A lawyer in Nigeria is admitted as a "Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria". Once admitted, Nigerian lawyers may argue in any federal trial or appellate court as well as any of the courts in Nigeria's thirty six states and the Federal Capital Territory. Lawyers are regulated by the Nigerian Bar Association.
Prior to the partition of Ireland, barristers in what is now Northern Ireland were called to the bar in the same manner as those in the rest of Ireland. The procedure remains much the same today, save that candidates wishing to qualify as barristers must complete a series of examinations at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen's University Belfast (under the supervision of the Honourable Society of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland), barristers are called to the bar by the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland and members of the Inner Bar are known as Queen's Counsel.
In Sri Lanka, a lawyer must be admitted and enrolled as an attorney-at-law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. This is referred to as the call to the bar.
Generally, a lawyer is said to have been "admitted to the bar" and become an "attorney at law"; some states still use the older term "attorney and counselor (also spelled 'counsellor') at law", upon taking his or her oath of office. Historically, the institution of attorney was similar to that of the solicitor, whereas the office of the counselor was almost identical to that of the barrister, but today this distinction has disappeared. The phrase "called to the bar" is still sometimes used informally by U.S. attorneys to refer to their qualification as a lawyer.
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 law and giving expert legal opinions.
A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, canonist, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, solicitor, legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying the law, but not as a paralegal or chartered executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services. The role of the lawyer varies greatly across different legal jurisdictions.
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.
In the United Kingdom and in some Commonwealth countries, a King's Counsel during the reign of a king, or Queen's Counsel during the reign of a queen, is a lawyer who is typically a senior trial lawyer. Technically appointed by the monarch of the country to be one of 'His [Her] Majesty's Counsel learned in the law', the position originated in England and Wales. Some Commonwealth countries have either abolished the position, or renamed it so as to remove monarchical connotations, for example, 'Senior counsel' or 'Senior Advocate'.
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 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.
In law, the bar is the legal profession as an institution. The term is a metonym for the line that separates the parts of a courtroom reserved for spectators and those reserved for participants in a trial such as lawyers.
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 the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong S.A.R., Macau S.A.R., Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Japan, Pakistan, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Israel, Brazil, Tanzania, Zambia, and many other jurisdictions.
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.
The Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA) is the professional regulatory body for barristers in Hong Kong. The Law Society of Hong Kong is the equivalent association for solicitors in Hong Kong.
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 BVI Bar Association is a voluntary membership organisation for members of the legal profession in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The Association was founded on 8 May 1976. Of the eight founder members, half would go on to serve as president at some point. Residency requirements for members mean that not all members of the British Virgin Islands legal profession are members. Most resident lawyers within the BVI do in fact join the BVI Bar Association, but it is relatively rare for non-resident lawyers to join. The BVI Bar Association currently has no statutory functions and it is open to membership by both Barristers and Solicitors within the jurisdiction.
Legal education in the United Kingdom is divided between the common law system of England and Wales and Northern Ireland, and that of Scotland, which uses a hybrid of common law and civil law.
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.
The Bar of Northern Ireland is the professional association of barristers for Northern Ireland, with over 600 members. It is based in the Bar Library, beside 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 Bar of Ireland is the professional association of barristers for Ireland, with over 2,000 members. It is based in the Law Library, with premises in Dublin and Cork. It is governed by the General Council of the Bar of Ireland, which was established in 1897. The Council 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.