Securing a scholarship to fund your BPTC from the Inns of Court
All four Inns of Court offer scholarships to those studying for the BPTC. Make sure you know how to apply and how candidates are assessed.
The four Inns of Court are voluntary societies that provide education, support and facilities to members, who are either seeking a career at the Bar or already qualified. The scholarships and bursaries on offer from the Inns are worth more than £4.2 million a year in total, so would-be barristers should investigate what's available and be sure to apply in good time.
The four Inns are Middle Temple, Lincoln's Inn, Inner Temple and Gray's Inn. You can only join one Inn but you can apply for several of its scholarships and awards. You cannot make multiple applications to scholarships from different Inns. The majority of scholarships available are for the Bar professional training course (BPTC), previously known as the Bar vocational course (BVC), but there are others awarded for the conversion course and during pupillage, and smaller sums may also be available for a range of purposes.
Whether you apply for a scholarship or not, all would-be barristers have to join an Inn by 31 May in their BPTC year, although it's advisable to do so before. The Inns offer access to advice and they all provide facilities such as a library, hall and bar. Some accommodation may also be available. Inns have the power to call their members to the Bar, in a ceremony that takes place towards the end of the BPTC year and confers the title of barrister on them.
The Inns of Court
Inns' criteria for assessing scholarship applicants
Each Inn has its own set of criteria that are used to assess candidates. Have a look at the Inns' websites or contact them directly to find out their specific selection criteria. Generally speaking, they encompass:
- intellectual ability and high academic achievement
- potential for successful practice
- mooting and debating skills
- motivation to succeed
- personal qualities and extracurricular activities.
Inns make awards on the basis of merit but may also take financial need into account in some instances.
How to apply for a scholarship
Each Inn has its own application form, available either online or on request. Make sure you answer the questions carefully and fill in all the spaces, highlighting your skills and showing how they match the criteria. You will need to organise references from people of standing, who cannot be family members. It's advisable to have an academic reference and it may help to have one from an employer or a barrister.
Once all applications have been received, the Inn will make a shortlist of candidates to invite for interview. You're likely to be interviewed by a panel, which will probably include a bencher (a senior member of the Inn). For some awards you may be asked to demonstrate your abilities, for example by mooting or submitting an essay.