The component parts of the profession
The Bar dates back to the end of the thirteenth century. Originally and for a very long time, barristers could and did receive instructions direct from the lay client. It was not until the nineteenth century that it was finally settled that a barrister had to have instructions from a solicitor to appear in court.
Inns of Court
A barrister must be a member of one of the four Inns of Court. The profession's connection with what are now the Inns of Court dates back to the early fourteenth century when, on the dissolution of the crusading order of the Knights Templar, the buildings were occupied by the lawyers who had previously lived in the area around the courts. By the end of the fourteenth century there were four societies in existence – the Inner and Middle Temples, Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn. In the seventeenth century the right to practice in the Royal Courts became restricted to members of the Inns of Court and since that time they have enjoyed a monopoly over the right of admission to the Bar.
There are three categories of members of the Inns – benchers, barristers and students. Control of the Inns is vested in the benchers who are appointed by the existing body of benchers, normally from the ranks of judges and senior practitioners.