Why are barristers ‘called to the bar’?

What's the origin of this unsual saying?

Why are barristers 'called to the bar'? © Getty Images

It was during the 13th century that lawyers were first appointed to plead for a plaintiff in the King’s Courts. Then, on the fall of the Knights Templars in the 14th century, the lawyers moved into their London premises and the four great Inns of Court – Lincoln’s Inn, Gray’s Inn, Inner and Middle Temple – became the centre of the English legal system.


Gradually, the profession grew in reputation and traditions set in. One of these involved the most highly qualified practitioners being ‘called’ to the highest place in the court room – a railing or bar separating officials from the public. The Inns of Court each had such a partition, which students symbolically crossed when they qualified, becoming ‘barristers’.