A bar association is a professional association of lawyers. Some bar
associations are responsible for the regulation of the legal
profession in their jurisdiction; others are professional
organizations dedicated to serving their members; in many cases, they
are both. In many Commonwealth jurisdictions, the bar association
comprises lawyers who are qualified as barristers or advocates in
particular, versus solicitors (see bar council). Membership in bar
associations may be mandatory or optional for practicing attorneys,
depending on jurisdiction.
2 In Commonwealth jurisdictions
3 In the United States
3.1 Mandatory, integrated, or unified bar associations
3.2 Voluntary bar associations
4 See also
6 External links
Main article: Bar (law)
The use of the term bar to mean "the whole body of lawyers, the legal
profession" comes ultimately from English custom. In the early 16th
century, a railing divided the hall in the Inns of Court, with
students occupying the body of the hall and readers or benchers on the
other side. Students who officially became lawyers crossed the
symbolic physical barrier and were "admitted to the bar". Later,
this was popularly assumed to mean the wooden railing marking off the
area around the judge's seat in a courtroom, where prisoners stood for
arraignment and where a barrister stood to plead. In modern
courtrooms, a railing may still be in place to enclose the space which
is occupied by legal counsel as well as the criminal defendants and
civil litigants who have business pending before the court.
In Commonwealth jurisdictions
Main article: Bar council
In many Commonwealth jurisdictions, including in
England and Wales,
the "bar association" comprises lawyers who are qualified as
barristers or advocates (collectively known as "the bar", or "members
of the bar"), while the "law society" comprises solicitors. These
bodies are sometimes mutually exclusive, while in other jurisdictions,
the "bar" may refer to the entire community of persons engaged in the
practice of law.
In Canada, one is called to the bar after undertaking a
post-law-school training in a provincial law society program, and
undergoing an apprenticeship or taking articles. Legal communities are
called provincial law societies, except for Nova Scotia, where it is
Nova Scotia Barristers' Society, and Quebec, where it is
called the Barreau du Quebec.
The Canadian Bar Association (and its provincial and territorial
branches) is a professional association of barristers, solicitors and
avocats that serves the roles of advocates for the profession,
provides continuing legal education and member benefits. It does not
play a part in the regulation of the profession, however.
India under the legal framework set established under the Advocates
Act, 1961, a law graduate is required to be enrolled with the Bar
Council of India. The process of enrollment is delegated by the Bar
India to the state Bar Councils wherein almost each state
has a Bar Council of its own. Once enrolled with a State Bar Council,
the law graduate is recognized as an
Advocate provisionally for a
period of two years, within which they must clear the All
Examination (AIBE) conducted by the Bar Council of India. Once the
advocate clears the AIBE test, they are entitled to appear and
practice before any court of law in India. There is no formal
requirement for further membership of any Bar Association. However,
Advocates do become members of various local or national bar
associations for reasons of recognition and facilities which these
associations offer. Some well-known Bar Associations in
the Supreme Court Bar Association, Delhi High Court Bar Association,
Bombay Bar Association, Delhi Bar Association, National Bar
Association of India, All
India Bar Association, etc.
In Pakistan, a person becomes a licensee of a Provincial Bar Council
after fulfilling certain requirements. He must have a valid law degree
LL.B from a recognized university by the Pakitan Bar council, must
offer certain undertakings, and pay the Provincial Bar Council fees.
Furthermore, he shall join any bar association as a member. Tehsil Bar
associations work under umbrella of District Bar Association, District
Bar Association under Provincial Bar councils, such as khyber
pakhtunkhwa Bar Council, Punjab Bar Council,
Sindh Bar Council etc. To
become an advocate, one must first complete six months pupillage with
a practising advocate of High Court, whom they must assist on at least
ten cases during a six-month pupillage.
In the United States
Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions.
—Benjamin N. Cardozo, In re Rouss, 221 N.Y. 81, 84 (1917)
Sign outside the
Massachusetts Bar Association
Massachusetts Bar Association in Boston,
In the United States, admission to the bar is permission granted by a
particular court system to a lawyer to practice law in that system.
This is to be distinguished from membership in a bar association. In
the United States, some states require membership in the state bar
association for all attorneys, while others do not.
Although bar associations historically existed as unincorporated
voluntary associations, nearly all bar associations have since been
organized (or reorganized) as corporations. Furthermore, membership in
some of them (see the next section below) is no longer voluntary,
which is why some of them have omitted the word "association" and
merely call themselves the "state bar" to indicate that they are the
incorporated body that constitutes the entire admitted legal
profession of a state.
Mandatory, integrated, or unified bar associations
Some states require membership in the state's bar association to
practice law there. Such an organization is called a mandatory,
integrated, or unified bar, and is a type of government-granted
monopoly. They exist at present in a slight majority of U.S. states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana,
Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma,
Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah,
Virginia, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The
District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern
Mariana Islands also have unified bars. The mandatory status of the
Puerto Rico Bar Association
Puerto Rico Bar Association was eliminated in 2009 by an act of the
legislature, ratified by recently appointed majority of the Puerto
Rico Supreme Court. By act of the Puerto Rico legislature, the
mandatory status was reinstated in June, 2014. The Supreme Court of
Puerto Rico struck down this act in October, 2014, finding that it
unconstitutionally usurped its powers.
In some states, like Wisconsin, the mandatory membership requirement
is implemented through an order of the state supreme court, which can
be revoked or canceled at any time at the court's discretion. In
others, like Oregon, the state legislature passed a law and created a
government agency. California went farther than any other state and
State Bar of California
State Bar of California into its constitution.
The first state to have an integrated bar association was North Dakota
Voluntary bar associations
A voluntary bar association is a private organization of lawyers.
However, the membership may not be restricted only to registered
lawyers. The membership can extend to people interested in goals and
purpose of the Association. Each Association chooses its own purposes
(e.g., social, educational, and lobbying functions), but does not
regulate the practice of law or admit lawyers to practice.
There is a statewide voluntary bar association in every state that has
no mandatory or integrated bar association. There are also many
voluntary bar associations organized by city, county, or other
community. Such associations are often focused on common professional
interests (such as bankruptcy lawyers or in-house counsel) or common
ethnic interests (such as gender, race, religion, or national
heritage), such as the Hispanic National Bar Association. The American
Bar Association is the voluntary bar association with the largest
membership. Such associations often advocate for law reform and
provide information in bar journals, pro bono services or a lawyer
referral service to the general public.
There is no mandatory federal bar association. The Federal Bar
Association is a private, voluntary group.
There are also a number of subject-specific private associations,
which are not officially denominated as bar associations but which
serve similar functions in terms of providing their members with
useful publications, networking opportunities, and continuing legal
education. The largest association of defense counsel is the Defense
Research Institute (the "Voice of the Defense Bar"), while the largest
association of plaintiffs' counsel is the American Association for
Justice (formerly Association of Trial Lawyers of America). The
National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is an association of progressive
attorneys and legal workers, founded as the first national lawyer's
association with membership open to all races and religions.
Most American law schools have a student bar association, which is a
student organization that fulfills various functions, including
sometimes serving as the student government.
Judges may or may not be members of the bar. Etymologically, they sit
"on the bench", and the cases which come before them are "at bar" or
"at bench". Many states in the United States require that some or all
judges be members of the bar; typically these limit or completely
prohibit the judges from practicing law while serving as a judge.
U.S. Constitution contains no requirement that Federal judges or
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court justices be members of the bar. However, there are
no modern instances of the President nominating or the Congress
approving any candidate who is not a member of any bar. There are
various professional associations of judges, such as the American
Judges Association, that perform some of the educational and other
service functions of bar associations.
American Bar Association
^ "Etymology: Bar". EtymologyOnline.com. Retrieved December 11,
^ "THE ADVOCATES ACT, 1961" (PDF). Bar Council of India. Archived from
the original (PDF) on 19 August 2008. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
^ William Burnham, Introduction to the
Law and Legal System of the
United States, 4th ed. (St. Paul: Thomson West, 2006), p. 135.
^ The concept of the integrated bar was discussed in Keller v. State
Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990), in which the U.S. Supreme Court
agreed with the
Supreme Court of California
Supreme Court of California that the state could force
lawyers to join the
State Bar of California
State Bar of California and pay fees as a
condition of practicing law in the state. However, the Court then went
on to hold that the state bar could not force lawyers to pay for
political and ideological activities with which they did not agree.
^ Friedman, Lawrence M. (2002). American
Law in the Twentieth Century.
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 41.
Bar association at Curl