What does BAR stand for (as in the BAR exam)?

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nfaulk6 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is some fallacy that “bar” in this context stands for “British Accreditation Regency”; however, there is no foundation for this claim.

In order to become a practicing attorney in the United States, one must have passed his or her bar exam and be “admitted to the bar.” Because of the common law history for all US States (except for Louisiana and the US territory of Puerto Rico), legal methods and processes are typically a result of English courts, and contemporary jurisprudence often looks to old English cases when deciding modern points of law.   

Thus, in England during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the old King’s or Queen’s Bench plays a prominent role in understanding the etiology of the word “bar.” In courtrooms of old—and today—there is a physical barrier, or “bar” between the area where the public is permitted and the portion that is limited to attorneys, their clients, and witnesses who are called to testify. Lawyers who have been “admitted to the bar” have the requisite access to go to the “other” side of the “bar,” or the restricted areas of the courtroom.