Anderson Injury Lawyers | March 3, 2023 | Texas Law
When you start talking about the legal profession, you may notice that the word “bar” shows up a lot. Prospective lawyers take the bar exam and eventually join the bar association. But why do we refer to those by the word “bar” and where did the term originate?
Although many people think “bar” is an acronym, but that’s actually a misconception. Read on to learn about the origin of the term and why it still shows up in our courtrooms today.
There Is a Literal Bar
The first thing you need to know about the “bar” in “bar exam” is that it does refer to a literal bar. In English courtrooms, a wooden rail separated the participants in the trial (plaintiff, defendant, attorneys, jury, and judge) from the spectators. Only those who were involved in the case were allowed to pass that rail, or bar.
Over time, that concept of “passing the bar” became a metaphor for entering the legal practice. Passing the bar meant you were allowed to be involved in the proceedings of the court, specifically as a lawyer. The term stuck around, and when the bar exam was established, it followed this same convention.
American vs. English Courts
Today, the term “bar” is used to refer to legal practice in both the United States and England. But the two countries use the term slightly differently.
In English courts, the term “bar” is used more broadly to refer to any events or people involved in a court case. When a case is presented in court, it’s referred to as being “at the bar.” And the British term for lawyers – “barristers” – comes from the term “bar.”
Americans are a little more strict in how we use the term “bar.” Bar associations only include lawyers, and only prospective lawyers take the bar exam. The term is used to refer to the legal profession specifically, rather than the court system as a whole.
How the Bar Is Regulated
Of course, passing the bar exam doesn’t give you a permanent and unlimited license to practice law. For one thing, you can only practice law in the state where you passed the bar exam. Passing the bar exam in California doesn’t allow you to practice in Texas.
You also have to maintain licensing requirements in your state. This may include following ethical guidelines, taking continuing education courses, and so on. If you violate the regulations your state sets for lawyers, you could be disbarred and prohibited from practicing law again.
Texas Bar Exam Requirements
In Texas, there are a few requirements you have to meet in order to take the bar in Texas. First of all, you have to have a Juris Doctor degree from a school accredited by the American Bar Association. You can take your bar exam a little before you graduate, but you must be within four credit hours of graduation.
You also have to “possess the moral character and fitness to practice law” by the standards of the Texas Bar Association. This means no prior criminal convictions, history of substance abuse, or anything else that could compromise your ability to represent clients. You also have to be eighteen years old when you take the exam.
Work with Bar Members Who Work for You
When most people refer to the “bar exam,” they may not realize they’re referring to a literal bar. This is the bar that separates participants in the court proceedings from spectators in the court. Today, American courts use the term “bar” to refer to the legal profession, including the bar association and the bar exam.
If you need a lawyer with plenty of experience on the other side of the bar, Anderson Injury Lawyers is here for you. Our lawyers have decades of experience, and we’ve recovered millions for our clients. Schedule a free consultation with us today and start getting the representation you deserve.