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Law barristers
Inns of Court funding

Over £5 million of funding up for grabs: how to win yourself a scholarship with an Inn of Court

Can't choose which of the four Inns of Court to join? This information on the scholarships and bursaries they offer to would-be barristers will help make up your mind.

Between them, the four Inns of Court offer £5,178,425 to aspiring barristers. One of the main things to consider when choosing an Inn of Court is the level of funding it has available for the BPTC and GDL, advised our expert panel at the TARGETjobs National Pupillage Fair.

Given the cost of the Bar professional training course or BPTC (£12,550–£18,530) and GDL (law conversion course for non-law graduates) (£4,913 –£10,000), many aspiring barristers fall at the first hurdle: funding their training. There are several ways to avoid this, the most important of which is applying for an Inns of Court scholarship. You do not have to be a member to apply to an Inn, but if you are offered an award then you must become a member to receive it. You may only apply for a scholarship at one Inn each year. The deadline for joining an Inn of Court is 31 May in your BPTC year.

Funding factors to consider

Candidates for scholarships and awards can only make one application, so it’s vital that you make a good choice. Factors to consider include:

  • The overall amount of money available for the BPTC or law conversion course.
  • The number of awards available.
  • The amount of money awarded for each individual scholarship/bursary.

Scholarships and awards at each Inn

Lincoln’s Inn:

  • Has a total awards budget of over £1.5m.
  • There is no set amount for the awards – amounts are based on personal needs.
  • Has £150,000 available for the GDL, made up of 32 individual scholarships of £7,000.
  • Has around £1.3m available for the BPTC – divided between over 100 scholarships ranging from £2,000–£18,000.
  • Closing dates for application: 6 November 2015 for BPTC, 6 May 2016 for GDL.

Inner Temple:

  • Has the largest total awards budget of  £1,658,625.
  • No set amount for awards – based on personal needs.
  • Has approximately £200,000 available for the GDL – those who are awarded a GDL scholarship are later awarded the same amount for their BPTC without further interview.
  • Its major scholarships are given in large amounts – there are around 20 major scholarships totalling more than £1m.
  • Application deadline:  6 November 2015 for BPTC, 6 May 2016 for GDL.

Middle Temple:

  • Has a total awards budget of just over £1m – the majority are for BPTC students.
  • Application deadline:  6 November 2015 for BPTC, 6 May 2016 for GDL.

Gray’s Inn:

  • A total awards budget of £872,800.
  • Conversion year awards are generally between £4,000 and £11,000.
  • BPTC awards are generally £8,000–£18,000.
  • Application deadline:  6 November 2015 for BPTC, 6 May 2016 for GDL.

The main factor in deciding who receives awards, regardless of the Inn, is merit. ‘You need to be selective when making applications to the Inns. You need to pick the right one, and focus on the Inn that offers the best chances of success of obtaining a scholarship,’ advises Mason Bloom of Silver Levene chartered certified accountants, speaking at the TARGETjobs Law National Pupillage Fair. ‘The Inns are looking at intellectual ability, legal research skills, motivation, evidence of serious commitment to succeed at the Bar, advocacy potential and oral skills – any mooting or debating in mock trials experience – personal qualities, and your financial circumstances and need.’

Hardship funds for barristers

When you apply for the conversion course and BPTC, enquire about any available hardship funds or bursaries at your chosen institution(s). These are usually discretionary funds that help students who encounter unforeseen financial difficulties during the course of their studies. However, depending on the institution, there may also be bursaries that you can apply for in advance.

Advances on pupillage awards

A number of chambers will allow successful applicants to draw part of their pupillage award early, in order to help fund the BPTC year. Depending on the size of the pupillage award, the amount you can draw in advance may vary.

Professional and career development loans

You can borrow between £300 and £10,000 with a professional and career development loan, which has been developed to fund vocational courses such as the BPTC (but not your conversion course). This scheme is offered by two high-street banks, Barclays and the Co-operative Bank. Application packages for these loans can be obtained by contacting the National Careers Service, rather than the individual banks, on 0800 100 900 or go to their website below.

Other sources

Regrettably, local authority grants are few and far between these days but you might want to contact your local authority just in case. Other less conventional sources of funding can be investigated in your university or local public library – for example there are publications detailing grant-making trusts and charities.

 

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