November 24, 2021 | Criminal Defense
Find yourself wondering what the word “bar” stands for in the Bar Exam or Bar Association? The Lexington criminal defense lawyers at Suhre & Associates answer your questions here. Our attorneys are fully licensed members of the Kentucky Bar Association.
If you are facing criminal charges, invoke your right to remain silent and contact a criminal defense lawyer for help. Otherwise, keep reading to learn more about the Bar!
What is the “Bar” in Lexington, Kentucky?
To understand what “Bar” stands for, you have to begin by picturing a courtroom. You have probably been in a courtroom before or at least seen them on television. In every courtroom, there is a section with seating for the public. This looks like church pews or wooden benches.
Between the public seating and the area where lawyers and judges sit is a low wall or wooden railing, about waist high. In this railing, there is a door that only licensed attorneys are allowed to pass through. This low wall that blocks non-lawyers from entering is called the “Bar.” This makes sense since it literally bars non-lawyers from entering.
Lawyers are often required to show their law license, also called a bar card, to cross to the other side if the judge doesn’t know them personally.
What is the Bar Exam in Kentucky?
Now that you know what the Bar is in the courtroom, it is easy to understand what Bar stands for in Bar Exam. Only licensed attorneys in the state of Kentucky are allowed to enter beyond the bar in the courtroom.
To become a licensed attorney, a person needs to graduate from law school, satisfy the Supreme Court of Kentucky character and fitness requirements, and pass the bar exam. If a lawyer does not pass the bar, they cannot practice criminal defense or represent clients in matters such as DUI cases or drug crimes.
The Bar Exam asks questions about everything lawyers learned in law school to make sure they are ready to practice law.
When someone passes the bar exam, they can literally pass through the bar in court! When lawyers are studying for the bar exam, they typically enroll in expensive review courses called “Bar Review.” These 1-2 month crash courses cover everything that will be on the exam. It is not easy to complete a Bar Review course, but it is better than risking failing the exam.
If a lawyer does fail the exam, it is not the end of the world. They can always study more and retake it next time. The bar exam is a big source of stress for even the brightest law students.
What is the Bar Association?
The Kentucky Bar Association is a branch of the state Supreme Court. It has the authority to regulate the legal profession.
This means that they handle things like:
- Law licenses
- Attorney discipline
- CLE reporting
A key feature of the Bar Association is their administration of Continuing Legal Education (CLE). All attorneys are required to take legal education classes and report them to the Bar periodically to maintain their law license.
Additionally, all lawyers are required to follow ethical rules. These rules include duties of loyalty to clients, maintaining confidentiality, diligent representation, avoiding conflicts of interest, and good communication with clients.
When someone complains to the Bar Association about an ethical violation, the State Bar can conduct an investigation. Depending on the results of the investigation, the lawyer may have public notice of the violation published to embarrass and punish them. They could even lose their license for serious violations. Many violations are dismissed with no action taken, however.