Call to the bar

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 a "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:

  • Barristers primarily practise in court and generally specialise in advocacy in a particular field of law; they have a right of audience in all courts of England and Wales.
  • Solicitors do not necessarily undertake court work, but have a right of audience in the lower courts (magistrates' courts and county courts). They are admitted or enrolled as a solicitor, to conduct litigation and practise in law outside court, e.g., providing legal advice to lay clients and acting on their behalf in legal matters.

A solicitor must additionally 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.

Particular jurisdictions

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:

  • Queensland and New South Wales formally split the legal profession between solicitors and barristers;
  • South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory have "fused" the professions of barrister and solicitor, but each state maintains an independent bar for lawyers who solely practice as barristers; and
  • Tasmania and the Northern Territory have fused professions, with a very small number of legal practitioners operating as an independent bar.[1]

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:

  • in Queensland, candidates must pass "three 1.5 hour examinations, focusing on legal ethics, practice and procedure, and evidence", and then successfully complete the Bar Practice Course;[2]
  • in New South Wales, candidates must pass the NSW Bar Examination, and then successfully complete the Bar Practice Course;[3] and
  • in Victoria, candidates must pass the Victorian Bar Entrance Exam, and then successfully complete the Victorian Bar Readers' Course.[4]

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 experience 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.

England and Wales

In England and Wales, a call ceremony takes place at the barrister's Inn of Court (or at Temple Church for Inner Temple Inn), 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 Queen's Counsel are entitled to plead from "within the bar" in court.

New Zealand

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".[5] 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.

Sri Lanka

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.

United States

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 (or even 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.

See also


  1. ^ "Australian Bar Association | What is the Bar?". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  2. ^ "The Bar Association of Queensland". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  3. ^ "Coming to the Bar | NSW Bar Association". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  4. ^ "Victorian Bar Entrance Exam | Victorian Bar". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  5. ^ NZ Law Society - Legal practice in New Zealand Archived 2012-12-21 at the Wayback Machine
Anne MacKenzie (judge)

Anne MacKenzie is a judge of the Court of Appeal of British Columbia since January 1, 2012. She previously served as the Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. MacKenzie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1973 followed by a Bachelor of Laws in 1977 from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She articled with the firm of Guild Yule and Company, and upon her call to the bar joined the offices of the Department of Justice.In 1990, she was appointed to the Provincial Court of British Columbia, and was elevated to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1996.

Anton Weselak

Anton Bernard Weselak (11 February 1918 – 17 January 1989) was a Canadian lawyer and politician. Weselak was a Liberal party member of the House of Commons of Canada. He was born in Beausejour, Manitoba and became a lawyer after studies at the Manitoba Law School.Weselak began a legal practice in Beausejour after his Call to the Bar in 1948. He was first elected to Parliament at the Springfield riding in the 1953 general election. After serving only one term, the 22nd Canadian Parliament, he was defeated by Jake Schulz of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in the 1957 election. Weselak made a further attempt to win back the seat in the 1958 election but lost to Val Yacula who unseated Schulz. When Yacula died shortly after that victory, Weselak was again unsuccessful in a December 1958 by-election campaign.

During the 1956 Suez Crisis, Weselak was part of Lester B. Pearson's delegation to the United Nations. Pearson was then External Affairs minister under the Louis St. Laurent government, and his efforts led to the formation of United Nations peacekeeping force which defused a full-scale Middle Eastern war.In the years before his retirement in 1985, Weselak was a Toronto-based immigration appeal court judge. He died on 17 January 1989 and his funeral was in Trenton, Ontario.

Auvergne Doherty

Auvergne Mary Doherty, M.A., B.A. (3 October 1896 – 3 January 1961) was an Australian businesswoman, working in her family's cattle business. She was one of the first nine women called to the Bar in England; Doherty was the first Western Australian woman called to the English Bar; she did not go on to practise law in England or Western Australia. Instead, Doherty took over her father's business when he died in 1935.

Bar (law)

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.

Barristers (Qualification for Office) Act 1961

The Barristers (Qualification for Office) Act 1961 (1961 c. 44) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that modified the requirements for a barristers call to the Bar. It consisted of only two sections, one of which is the Act's short title. The Act allows time spent as a solicitor to be taken into account when calculating any required period of service for promotion to a role in, for example, the judiciary. The Act was moved as a private members bill and given its second reading by Lord Mancroft, who personally felt that it would have little effect. It was, however, seen as a sign that the two branches of the English legal profession were moving closer to fusion, and allowed solicitors to take up judicial offices previously closed to them.The Act was repealed by the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990.

Council of Legal Education

The Council of Legal Education (CLE) was an English supervisory body established by the four Inns of Court to regulate and improve the legal education of barristers within England and Wales.

Court dress

Court dress comprises the style of clothes prescribed for courts of law, and for royal courts.

Detective in the Bar

Detective in the Bar (探偵はBARにいる, Tantei wa bar ni iru) is a 2011 Japanese drama film directed by Hajime Hashimoto and based on a novel by Naomi Azuma.

Fred Sandhu

Fred Harinder Singh Sandhu was appointed to the Provincial Court of Manitoba on May 1, 2003.

Judge Sandhu graduated from the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Law in 1979. After his call to the bar, he worked with Legal Aid Manitoba, focusing on criminal law. Judge Sandhu was a certified youth soccer coach and a past member of the board of the Dauphin Friendship Centre.

George William Johnson (writer)

George William Johnson (4 November 1802 – 29 October 1886), was a British writer on gardening.

Giles Eyre

Sir Giles Eyre (c. 1635–1695) was an English barrister, member of parliament, and judge.

The son of Giles Eyre and his wife Anne, Eyre attended Winchester College before gaining admittance to Exeter College, Oxford in 1653, then joining Lincoln's Inn on 19 October 1654. While his call to the Bar on 7 November 1661 would normally herald the start of a legal career, by this point Eyre had already been returned as MP for Downton. Joining the opposition under Lord Warton, Eyre laid aside the debate on the Thirty-Nine Articles before abandoning his seat at the 1661 general election in favour of Gilbert Raleigh.Out of Parliament, Eyre became Deputy Recorder of Salisbury in 1675, receiving promotion to Recorder in 1681. Replaced in October 1684 when Salisbury's charter was removed, he was reinstated on the return of the charter in October 1688. Following the Glorious Revolution and James II's flight, Eyre was returned for the Salisbury Parliamentary constituency, playing a role in drafting the Bill of Rights 1689; he is thought to be the author of Reflections upon the late great revolution: written by a lay-hand in the country for the satisfaction of some neighbours. On 8 May 1689 he was made a Justice of the King's Bench and a Serjeant-at-Law, receiving a knighthood soon afterwards; he held this position "with great credit" until his death on 2 June 1695.On 18 November 1662 he had married Dorothy Ryves; by the time of her death on 15 January 1668 she had borne him three sons. Ryves was buried in Whiteparish Church, with an inscription attached to the grave "implying the impossibility of his ever being united to another"; he then married Christabella Wyndham, who on her death was buried in the same grave.His eldest son Giles was a lunatic, but a younger son John was MP for Downton. Their daughter Dorothy later married Richard Frewin.A painting of Giles Eyre by Thomas Hudson (1701-1779) was formally in the possession of Cider House Galleries Ltd.

Gray's Inn

The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, commonly known as Gray's Inn, is one of the four Inns of Court (professional associations for barristers and judges) 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 (or "Benchers"), 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.

Gray's Inn does not claim a specific foundation date; there is a tradition that none of the Inns of Court claims to be any older than the others. Law clerks and their apprentices have been established on the present site since at least 1370, with records dating from 1381. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Inn grew steadily with great prestige, reaching its pinnacle during the reign of Elizabeth I. The Inn was home to many important barristers and politicians, most notably Francis Bacon, and counted Elizabeth herself as a patron. Thanks to the efforts of prominent members such as William Cecil and Gilbert Gerard, Gray's Inn became the largest of the four by number, with over 200 barristers recorded as members. During this period, the Inn became noted for the masques and revels that it threw, and William Shakespeare is believed to have first performed The Comedy of Errors there.

The Inn continued to prosper during the reign of James I (1603–1625) and the beginning of that of Charles I, when over 100 students per year were recorded as joining. The outbreak of the First English Civil War in 1642 during the reign of Charles I disrupted the systems of legal education and governance at the Inns of Court, shutting down all calls to the Bar and new admissions, and Gray's Inn never fully recovered. Fortunes continued to decline after the English Restoration, which saw the end of the traditional method of legal education. Although now more prosperous, Gray's Inn is today the smallest of the Inns of Court.

Inns of Court

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.

All barristers must belong to one of them. They have supervisory and disciplinary functions over their members. The Inns also provide libraries, dining facilities and professional accommodation. Each also has a church or chapel attached to it and is a self-contained precinct where barristers traditionally train and practise, although growth in the legal profession, together with a desire to practise from more modern accommodations, caused many barristers' chambers to move outside the precincts of the Inns of Court in the late 20th century.

Kelly Moar

Kelly Moar was appointed to the Provincial Court of Manitoba on April 14, 2005.

Judge Moar received his call to the bar in 1997. As a Crown attorney, he was involved in prosecuting serious cases and handling inquests, bail hearings and various criminal law proceedings. Before he became a lawyer, he worked with Winnipeg Child and Family Services as a social worker and with the Native Alcoholism Council of Manitoba as a chemical dependency counsellor. He has also been active in the Métis community over the years, with a special interest in sports.

Patrick Hastings

Sir Patrick Gardiner Hastings, (17 March 1880 – 26 February 1952) was a British barrister and politician noted for his long and highly successful career as a barrister and his short stint as Attorney General. He was educated at Charterhouse School until 1896, when his family moved to continental Europe. There he learnt to shoot and ride horses, allowing him to join the Suffolk Imperial Yeomanry after the outbreak of the Second Boer War. After demobilisation he worked briefly as an apprentice to an engineer in Wales before moving to London to become a barrister. Hastings joined the Middle Temple as a student on 4 November 1901, and after two years of saving money for the call to the Bar he finally qualified as a barrister on 15 June 1904.

Hastings first rose to prominence as a result of the Case of the Hooded Man in 1912, and became noted for his skill at cross-examinations. After his success in Gruban v Booth in 1917, his practice steadily grew, and in 1919 he became a King's Counsel (KC). Following various successes as a KC in cases such as Sievier v Wootton and Russell v Russell, his practice was put on hold in 1922 when he was returned as the Labour Member of Parliament for Wallsend. Hastings was appointed Attorney General for England and Wales in 1924, by the first Labour government, and knighted. His authorisation of the prosecution of J. R. Campbell in what became known as the Campbell Case, however, led to the fall of the government after less than a year in power.

Following his resignation in 1926 to allow Margaret Bondfield to take a seat in Parliament, Hastings returned to his work as a barrister, and was even more successful than before his entry into the House of Commons. His cases included the Savidge Inquiry and the Royal Mail Case, and before his full retirement in 1948 he was one of the highest paid barristers at the English Bar. As well as his legal work, Hastings also tried his hand at writing plays. Although these had a mixed reception, The River was made into a silent film in 1927 named The Notorious Lady. Following strokes in 1948 and 1949, his activities became heavily restricted, and he died at home on 26 February 1952.

Richard Bellewe

Richard Bellewe or Bellew (fl. 1575 - 1585) was a legal reporter of Irish ancestry and a member of Lincoln's Inn. He published the abridgment sometimes referred to as Brook's New Cases in 1578 and the abridgment sometimes referred to as Bellewe's Cases temp. Richard II in 1585.He was admitted to the Society of Lincoln's Inn on 5 June 1575. There is no entry of his call to the bar by that society.

Robert Drew (politician)

Robert Drew (1575–1645) was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1597 and 1625.

Drew was the son of John Drew of Southbroom and his wife Eleanor Cooke, daughter of William Cooke of Lacock. He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford on 11 February 1592 aged 18 and entered Middle Temple in 1592. In 1597, Drew was elected Member of Parliament for Devizes. On 18 May 1599 the Middle Temple benchers refused his call to the bar because he had not performed his "exercises of learning", but he was called to the bar by 1602. He was re-elected MP for Devizes in 1601. From 1603 he was a common councilman for Devizes, remaining in post until 1640. He was re-elected MP for Devizes in 1604. He was a J.P. for Devizes from 1606 to 1640. He succeeded to the estate of Southbroom on the death of his father in 1614. In 1625 he was elected MP for Devizes once again.Drew died at the age of about 70.Drew married Jane Jackman, daughter of John Jackman, citizen and grocer of London on 25 May 1602. They had six sons and five daughters.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is a title that may be conferred on legal practitioners in Nigeria of not less than ten years' standing and who have distinguished themselves in the legal profession. It is the equivalent of the rank of Queen's Counsel in the United Kingdom, from which Nigeria became independent in 1960 (Republic 1963), as well as in South Australia, the Northern Territory, and Canada (except Ontario and Quebec). Several countries use similar designations such as Senior Counsel, State Counsel, Senior Advocate, and President's Advocate. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria is said to have been admitted to the "Inner Bar", as distinguished from the "Outer", or "Utter", Bar, consisting of junior advocates (See Call to the bar).

The conferment is made in accordance with the Legal Practitioners Act 207 Section 5 (1) by the Legal Practitioners' Privileges Committee, headed by the Chief Justice (as Chairman), and consist of the Attorney-General, one Justice of the Supreme Court (chosen by the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General for a term of two years, renewable on one occasion only), the President of the Court of Appeal, five of the Chief Judges of the States (chosen by the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General for a term of two years, renewable on one occasion only), the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, and five legal practitioners who are Senior Advocates of Nigeria (chosen by the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General for a term of two years, renewable on one occasion only).

The title was first conferred on April 3, 1975. The recipients were Chief F.R.A. Williams and Dr Nabo Graham-Douglas. As of July 7, 2011 344 lawyers had become Senior Advocates of Nigeria.

Yo Oizumi

Yo Oizumi (大泉 洋, Ōizumi Yō, born April 3, 1973) is a TV personality and a stage actor based in Hokkaidō. He was born in Ebetsu and has been living in Sapporo since 1984.

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