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Inns of Court scholarships
When it comes to funding for aspiring barristers in England and Wales, the Inns of Court Scholarships are probably the most coveted around. Inner Temple, Middle Temple, Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn have a combined total in excess of £4.5 million per year to award as scholarships for aspiring lawyers.
The Inns of Court offer scholarships to cover or contribute to the costs of doing either the GDL (for those students who have come from a non-law degree background and must therefore complete the conversion course) and/or the BPTC and pupillage. With the overall costs of these courses being so high, together with the prestige of holding an award from one of the four Inns, it won’t come as a shock to hear the competition is extremely tough for an Inns of Court Scholarship.
It’s a one Inn policy, meaning you’ll only be able to apply for scholarships from one Inn, though you can apply for any number of that particular Inn’s grants and awards. You’ll have to be a member of the Inn you secure a scholarship from too—the annual deadline for joining an Inn is 31 May.
How to apply for Inns of Court Scholarships
Detailed instructions for how to apply for each scholarship can be found at each of the Inns’ websites. In general, all four of the Inns share a similar application and interviewing process.
Putting together your scholarship applications is by no means a last-minute exercise. Applications after the stated deadline will simply not be considered, and references may be necessary as well (they are required for Inn membership applications). Check on the website you’ve got your dates right and the forms are in the correct format—they may request a hard copy of the application too.
The Inns require shortlisted candidates for awards to attend a face-to-face interview at the Inn, and the time of year will depend on which scholarship you have applied for. Interviewees will be put through their paces for 15-20 minutes by an experienced scholarship panel, including some senior members from the Inn in some instances.
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Scholarship assessment criteria
The Inns generally award their scholarships based on merit alone, though financial need will be also be taken into consideration for certain awards. The interview is all about seeing if you’ve got the characteristics and qualities to succeed at the Bar, and no matter which Inn you interview with they’ll all be looking for very similar qualities and potential from their prospective trainee barristers. These include:
- Intellectual ability – an impressive academic record coupled with an aptitude for strong analysis of facts and sound judgement;
- Motivation – commitment to work at the Bar and enthusiasm;
- Interpersonal skills – the ability to develop and maintain relationships with people from different backgrounds, and diplomatic skills;
- Character – Integrity, work ethic and ability to handle pressure;
- Abilities in mooting, debating and advocacy – strengths in forming articulate arguments, persuasiveness and able to adapt as appropriate.
At this point, you should be no stranger to application processes - but that doesn't mean you can afford to get sloppy. Time to have a good old think about your experience and academic achievements, and get cracking on writing your application!