Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Call To The Bar Definition:

The official moment that an individual is sworn or entered into a law society or state bar or court and thereafter licensed to practise law in that jurisdiction.

Traditionally, in common law courts, a bar ran the width of the courtroom separating the public gallery from inner precincts closer to the judge's desk. That bar was a protective border past which none but officers of the court, which includes members of the bar, judges and clerks only, were allowed to enter and thus sit in closer proximity to the court. Ingress past the bar by officers of the court only is enforced by the sheriff.

More recently, the courts have struggled with this relic of the past. The present compromise seems to be that self-represented litigants are allowed past the bar during their cases only.

Because of the bar, as it were, being literally called to the bar within the local courtroom, was the moment in historic common law practise, that a young student of law, having completed his studies and apprenticeship, was accepted as a full-fledged lawyer, thereafter able to represent others in court and enter the inner precincts of the court at will.

The call to the bar also places the individual firmly under the supervisory authority of the lawyer licensing body such as the law society, bar association or court.


  • Hovell v Law Society, 15 BCR 167 (1910)

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