"be called to the bar" and "become a lawyer"

Yuuichi Tam

Senior Member
Japanese
Gandhi was finally ready to take his law examinations and be "called to the bar" or become a lawyer.

This is from a biography of Gandhi. I thought that "be called to the bar" and "become a lawyer" are the same meaning, but this sentence seems to say that they aren't.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    If you are called to the bar, you become a barrister. The other kind of lawyer (in the English system) is a solicitor. Barristers can argue in court.
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    Barristers can present cases in lower and higher courts. Solicitors do the preparatory work before going to court (or avoiding court!) and can also represent clients in lower courts such as magistrates courts. The exact details will vary from one legal jurisdiction to another.

    Gandhi was finally ready to take his law examinations and be "called to the bar" or become a lawyer.
    Even if those terms were synonymous (which they are not), it would still be a good sentence - "become a lawyer" would be acting as a gloss (explaining in plain English the specialist term which the general reader might not have understood).
     
    Last edited:

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    They most definitely are not the same. He studied law in London, and after graduating could have (and did) work as a lawyer. In the English legal system a barrister undergoes further training and on completing that training is "called to the bar". There is a wikipedia article you could read Barrister - Wikipedia
    but this sentence seems to say that they aren't.
    Actually, it does say that they are the same. It equates "called to the bar" with become a lawyer. That is why called to the bar is in quotation marks.
     

    tunaafi

    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    They most definitely are not the same. He studied law in London, and after graduating could have (and did) work as a lawyer.
    A law degree in the UK does not qualify one to work independently as a lawyer (solicitor or barrister.) One must satisfy the entrance requirements for those professions first.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    A law degree in the UK does not qualify one to work independently as a lawyer (solicitor or barrister.) One must satisfy the entrance requirements for those professions first.
    I accept that, but my point was that "lawyer" and "barrister" are not synonyms. I also made no comment on working "independently". Law graduates who go into training programmes to become barristers or solicitors are "working as lawyers". As it happens, Gandhi did enter chambers after initial hesitation and was called to the bar shortly before he returned to India.
     

    Yuuichi Tam

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you for the answers. I am a bit confused because there are two opinions. As for the "or", is "become a lawyer" an explanation of "be called to the bar"? Or does it mean "become a barrister or a solicitor."?
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    The author's 'or become a lawyer' is an explanation of the expression 'called to the bar'. It's one outcome with two names, not two possible outcomes.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't think there are two opinions.

    We agree that the text says that "called to the bar" means become a lawyer.
    We agree that the text is wrong.
     
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