Stephen Hasner | Georgia Law | March 19, 2022
Many people know that attorneys are required to pass the bar exam before they can practice. However, most people are unaware of what the term “bar” means in relation to the legal profession.
There are several different ideas regarding what the term “bar” refers to in the phrases Bar exam and Bar Association. One popular but incorrect notion is that “bar” is an acronym that stands for British Accredited Registry.
Some claim that, because this is the meaning of “bar,” all lawyers are secretly employed by the British government. Of course, this is mistaken.
What Is the Actual Meaning of “Bar” in the Legal Context?
In actuality, the term “bar” refers to the physical railing in a courtroom that separates legal professionals from the general public. Trials are open to members of the public and there is a seating area in most courtrooms.
Because of this, the bar separates those involved in a trial or hearing from other citizens. Legal professionals in the courtroom typically include:
- Jury members
- And more
Those who are involved in the case will sit in front of the bar in the courtroom. In the English courts, barristers were often called up to the “bar” as legal advocates for other people.
The term “bar” has also come to refer to the association of licensed legal practitioners. This is known as the bar association.
Other terms have developed around the legal profession as well. For instance, the term “bench” commonly refers to judges. This is because it references the seat that judges have in the courtroom.
When an attorney is admitted to the bar association, they have passed the bar exam and completed all of the other requirements. Lawyers are permitted to practice within particular areas, and every state sets specific requirements for practicing law.
All of the states in the U.S. also prohibit practicing law without a required license. That’s why, when you are involved in a legal dispute, it is critical to consult with a licensed legal professional in your area.
What Is the Bar Exam?
The bar exam is the last requirement before someone becomes a licensed lawyer in the United States. Before someone is permitted to practice law, they must pass their state’s bar exam.
Each jurisdiction administers its own bar exam; however, many states administer the same exam as part of the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). This test is meant to determine a candidate’s capacity to prove that they are competent enough to practice law professionally.
The bar exam is a minimum competency test. This means that candidates are judged on a pass-fail basis. This test covers a wide range of legal concepts and areas.
What Is the Bar Association?
Professional organizations that attorneys join are known as “bar associations.” There are many different bar associations in different geographic areas across the country.
Usually, membership in these associations is voluntary. Attorneys also have the option to join multiple bar associations.
The American Bar Association has members across the country. Also, states have their own bar associations that attorneys may join.
Typically, these organizations have designated sections for different areas of legal practice. These sections allow lawyers to consult with other professionals, who focus on the same specialized areas of the law.
By joining these organizations, attorneys can also stay abreast of new developments in legal precedence and jurisprudence. Many bar associations provide their members with opportunities for continuing legal education. Some of these professional development opportunities are necessary to maintain a legal license. No matter what type of legal dispute you are involved in, contact a skilled and licensed attorney.
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