Like many other common law terms, the term originated in England in the Middle Ages, and the call to the bar refers to the summons issued to one found fit to speak at the 'bar' of the royal courts. In time, English judges allowed only legally qualified men to address them on the law and later delegated the qualification and admission of barristers to the four Inns of Court. Once an Inn calls one of its members to its bar, they are thereafter a barrister. They may not, however, practise as a barrister until they have completed (or been exempted from) a pupillage. After completing pupillage, they are considered to be a practising barrister with a right of audience before all courts.
A solicitor must additionally qualify as a solicitor-advocate in order to acquire the same "higher rights" of audience as a barrister. In other jurisdictions, the terminology and the degree of overlap between the roles of solicitor and barrister varies greatly; in most, the distinction has disappeared entirely.
Common law jurisdictions include Australia, England and Wales, New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Nigeria, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and most jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Nations and the United States (the See also section below contains links to articles on the laws of these jurisdictions).
In common law, Canadian provinces, despite the unified legal profession (lawyers are qualified as both barristers and solicitors), the certificate issued by the provincial Law Society to the newly qualified lawyer generally indicates his or her having been called to the Bar and admitted as a solicitor. In the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, there are, in fact, two certificates, one issued by the respective provincial Law Society for call to the bar and the other by the Superior Court (Ontario) or Court of Queen's Bench (Manitoba) for admission as a solicitor. In Ontario being called to the bar requires students to article (apprentice) with a law firm for ten months, but due to a shortage of articling positions available each year and an influx of articling candidates, a pilot alternative program available through the University of Ottawa and Ryerson University was established. The Law Practice Program requires the articling students to spend four months in a virtual law office and to spend another four months in a work placement. Alberta is the only common law jurisdiction with individual, rather than group, calls. The student's supervisor, referred to as his or her principal, makes an oral application to the Provincial Court of Alberta or Court of Queen's Bench to have the student called to the bar. Gowns are worn and the ceremony is public, with the presiding judge (or judges) welcoming the new member with a speech written specifically for that call. In Quebec, a civil law notary is very similar to a solicitor.