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Bar in a legal context has three possible meanings: the division of a courtroom between its working and public areas; the process of qualifying to practice law; and the legal profession.

Courtroom division

The bar is a dividing line in a courtroom. The area in front of the bar 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.

License and certification

The bar may also refer to the qualifying procedure by which a lawyer is licensed to practice law in a given jurisdiction.

U.S. procedure

In the United States, this procedure is administered by the individual U.S. states. In general, a candidate must graduate from a qualified law school and pass a written test: the "bar examination". Nearly all states use the Multistate Bar Examination, usually with additions for that state's laws. The candidate is then "admitted to the bar". A lawyer whose license to practice law is revoked is said to be "disbarred."

British procedure

In the United Kingdommarker, the practice of law is divided between solicitors and barristers (advocates in Scotlandmarker). It is the latter who appear in court. When a lawyer becomes a barrister, he is "called to the bar".

The legal profession

"The Bar" is also commonly used to refer 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. The term is also used to differentiate lawyers who represent clients ("the bar"), from judges or members of a judiciary ("the bench"), although the phrase "bench and bar" denotes all judges and lawyers collectively.

See also


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