The term “bar” in “bar exam” or “bar association” is not an acronym or abbreviation. It is not a place to purchase food and beverages. Black’s Law Dictionary explains that the bar is the collective body of attorneys, counselors, and legal professionals.
In the courtroom, a bar is a physical divider between the general public and judges, attorneys, and the jury. Being a member of a bar association is reserved for those that pass the bar exam and are subsequently allowed beyond the bar in a courtroom.
Before sitting for your state’s bar exam, you must earn a Juris Doctor from a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association. There are several requirements that applicants must meet to successfully apply to law school.
Most law schools require that applicants earn a bachelor’s degree prior to attending law school. Unlike most states, California allows people to take the bar exam without earning a bachelor’s degree.
Earning a Juris Doctor typically takes students three years. During the course of those three years, students are required to take and pass certain classes before graduating and sitting for the bar exam.
The following are course subjects that the American Bar Association requires of accredited law schools:
- Professional Responsibility
- Writing experience
- Experiential learning
- Procedural law
- Substantive law
- Legal research
In addition to completing the required credits in law school, students also take bar prep before sitting for the exam.
The following are subjects that may be covered on the California Bar Exam:
- Business Associations
- Civil Procedure
- Community Property
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Professional Responsibility
- Real Property
- Wills and Succession
If you successfully pass the bar exam as well as the character and fitness requirements, you can apply to be admitted to the state bar.
A bar association is a professional organization of members that are licensed attorneys. The American Bar Association is a voluntary organization that offers its members continuing legal education courses, a nationwide network and access to publications. In addition to the American Bar Association, there are also state bar associations.
The California Lawyers Association is a voluntary bar association for California lawyers. It was established in 2018 by the Legislature. The California Lawyers Association offers its members continuing legal education, access to a statewide network, and support with important issues in the legal profession.
The California Lawyers Association contains different sections for attorneys to join, including:
- Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law
- Business Law
- Criminal Law
- Environmental Law
- Family Law
- Intellectual Property Law
- International Law and Immigration
- Labor and Employment Law
- Law Practice Management and Technology
- New Lawyers
- Public Law
- Privacy Law
- Real Property Law
- Solo and Small Firm
- Trust and Estates
- Workers’ Compensation
Unlike the California Lawyers Association, the State Bar of California is a mandatory organization for any California licensed attorney. It was created by the Legislature in 1927 and is a part of the California Supreme Court.
The State Bar of California licenses attorneys, regulates the legal profession, enforces the rules and administers the California Bar Exam. In addition to regulating the legal profession, The State Bar of California also advocates for policies and legislative priorities that improve the ethical and competent practice of law.
Bar associations regulate the profession but also work to enforce rules of professional responsibility. Bar associations serve many purposes and perform essential functions for the attorneys that belong to them and the communities for which they serve.
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