The Inns of Court is a collective term for four institutions – Middle Temple, Inner Temple, Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn – with the power to ‘call’ would-be barristers to the Bar. This is a ceremony that takes place at the end of the Bar professional training course (BPTC) year and confers on you the title of barrister, although you are not able to practise independently until you have completed pupillage.
You have to join an Inn of Court by 31 May in the year you start the BPTC (formerly known as the Bar vocational course, or BVC). However, it's a good idea to join before that as you can apply for funding to help with the costs of training.
The Inns of Court offer a range of scholarships, bursaries and awards for the conversion course, BPTC and pupillage years, currently worth £5.4 million each year in total. Your Inn is also an extremely useful source of advice, even at the earliest stages of your career.
Student officers can provide advice on a range of subjects:
- choice of conversion course or BPTC provider
- finding a pupillage and the state of the Bar in general.
In addition, all Inns run a ‘sponsorship’ system under which students are paired up with practising barristers who act as mentors.
During your BPTC year you will be required to attend at least 12 ‘qualifying sessions’ with your Inn in order to be called to the Bar. These may include lectures, dinners, advocacy courses, moots and residential weekends. Special arrangements can be made if you’re studying outside London to allow you to fit in several sessions in one visit.
Choosing an Inn of Court
Your choice of Inn is a personal matter and has no effect on where you can apply for pupillage or tenancy. You might want to base your decision on an Inn’s character, its awards and facilities, or both. Other factors you could consider are size, the way your enquiries are handled, and the proportion of members who are women, international students, or from ethnic minorities.
Contact the Inns' student officers to find out more about the individual characters of the different Inns. They will be able to answer your queries, arrange a guided tour and possibly even put you in touch with current BPTC students.
Visiting in person is a great way to get a feel for the atmosphere of an Inn. If you know someone who is already a member of an Inn, try to persuade him or her to invite you to dine there as a guest.
Facilities and financial support for your training
The amounts on offer through scholarships and bursaries vary from Inn to Inn; however, bear in mind that the number of student members, and hence the competition, will also differ. As regards facilities, all Inns provide a library, hall, bar, church and dining facilities. Some also offer a small amount of accommodation.
Inns of Court contact details
Middle Temple The Treasury Office, Middle Temple, London EC4Y 9AT Tel: 020 7427 4800
Inner Temple Eamonn O'Reilly, scholarships and student manager, Education and Training Department, Treasury Office, Inner Temple, London EC4Y 7HL Tel: 020 7797 8262
Lincoln’s Inn Judith Fox, students’ administrator, Treasury Office, Lincoln’s Inn, London WC2A 3TL Tel: 020 7405 0138
Gray’s Inn Quinn Clarke, director of education, 8 South Square, Gray’s Inn, London WC1R 5ET Tel: 020 7458 7900