Pass the bar

Posted by Smokey Stover on May 20, 2009 at 03:09

In Reply to: Pass the bar posted by David FG on May 18, 2009 at 17:12:

: : What is the origin of "pass the bar" for lawyers ? It has been suggested to me that it comes from holding court in a tavern or pub. Any truth to that?

: Absolutely none. The bar of the court (which these days exists only figuratively) divides those who sit within it - the officers of the court, including solicitors and Queen's Counsel - from those who sit beyond it - the rest. Junior Counsel (most barristers fall within this category) stand at the bar, hence the name.

: Of course, the above only applies in its detail to the courts of England and Wales, but the terminology has been adopted by jurisdictions which adopted the English system as their model.



Currently, "to pass the bar" means, in the U.S., to pass the bar exam, the consequence of which is to be permitted to practice law in whichever state offered the exam. Each state has its own requirements for the practice of law, and its own examination. There's a lot of similarity, generally speaking, so several states use a multi-state exxam compiled and sold by a third party, an organization dedicated to making up these exams.

The word "bar" in the legal sense, in the U.S., means mostly the legal profession, both in its practice and in the personnel. The American Bar Association is an organization of and for lawyers. (I'm sure everyone knows that barristers and solicitors are foreign to the U.S. legal system.)