The Inns of Court developed the three levels of membership still in use today: Bar students, barristers, qualified to practise on call to the Bar and Masters of the Bench (or Benchers), elected from amongst the eminent members of the profession. The Inns also appoint Honorary Benchers, Academic Benchers and Royal Benchers.
Student (once known as “inner barrister”), are the lowest level members who are of good character and satisfy certain educational requirements, presently include acceptance by a British university for a degree course. On obtaining a degree, and/or passing certain law examinations, the Inn's student members are required to attend a minimum of 12 qualifying sessions during the four dining terms of the year to qualify for call to the Bar. Qualifying sessions, formerly known as "dinners", combine collegiate and educational elements and will usually combine a dinner or reception with lectures, debates, mooting, or musical performances. The student then becomes a barrister after call to the Bar made by the Treasurer of the Inn.
Once called to the Bar members become members of Hall and membership is for life. They are entitled to the rights and privileges of members.
A Bencher, Benchsitter or (formally) Master of the Bench, is a member of Council or Pension, the governing body of respective Inn. The term originally referred to one who sat on the benches in the main hall of the Inn which were used for dining and during moots, and the term originally had no significance.