Curious about what Bar stands for in the Bar Exam or Bar Association? In this blog, Dayton criminal defense lawyers at Suhre & Associates explain what you need to know.

The History of the term “Bar”

The history of the term “Bar” goes a long way back. If you have ever seen a courtroom, you know that there is a short, waist-high wall that cuts the room in half. On one side of the wall, or railing, sit the judge, jury, lawyers, and parties to the case.

On the other side of the wall, there are benches for the public to sit in. That short wall divides the room between court officials and the public. A person must be a licensed attorney to pass through the door and onto the other side of the courtroom. The wall bars all others from entering. 

This wall / railing is the “Bar.” It is funny that such a simple thing as a short divider has created so many legal terms and is used so frequently in everyday speech. 

Why Do They Call it the Bar Exam in Dayton?

Only licensed attorneys can cross the “Bar” (i.e. wall) from the public side of the courtroom to the official side. Therefore, the exam to become a licensed attorney is called the Bar Exam. Passing the Bar Exam is the final step to becoming a licensed attorney. 

The Bar Exam covers everything a lawyer learns in law school. Lawyers study for years to pass this rigorous exam. Some people must take it multiple times because it is so hard. 

Other steps required to become a lawyer in Ohio include graduating from an undergraduate university and from an accredited law school. Then, a law school graduate needs to pass a character evaluation from the Supreme Court of Ohio. This involves detailed questionnaires and a serious background investigation.

Upon graduating from law school, satisfying the character and fitness requirements, and passing the Bar Exam, a person can someone become a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio.

Why Is it Called the Bar Association in Ohio?

The Bar Association is an organization of licensed attorneys in Ohio. The Bar Association got its name from the same dividing wall that gave rise to the term “Bar Exam.” 

The Ohio State Bar provides resources to attorneys such as continuing legal education. They also advocate for reforms in the criminal and civil legal system and watch out for the best interest of their members.

In many states, membership in the State Bar is mandatory, but not in Ohio. In Ohio, 65% of attorneys are members of the State Bar. In some states, the Bar Association is involved with attorney discipline. In Ohio, the Supreme Court handles all ethics complaints. 

The Ohio State Bar provides useful resources to the public, such as an attorney directory. They can also help get you in touch with pro bono legal resources. The State Bar also looks out for the best interest of the public in many cases, through their advocacy work for legislative reform.

Whether it is the Bar Exam or the Bar Association, both got their name from the same place – the small barrier in the courtroom that goes way back in history. 

If you need a lawyer for your criminal defense case, make sure they are barred/licensed. You can check an attorney’s licensure status on the Ohio Supreme Court’s website. This website will also detail whether a lawyer has a disciplinary history with the Court and provide other important information about your prospective legal representative. 

To learn more, call our law firm in Dayton at (937) 531-0435 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.