October 5, 2023, by Jackie Thompson
Securing a Bar Course Scholarship
By Ella Statham, Lincoln’s Inn Scholar and recent Law LLB Hons graduate
Pursuing a career at the Bar is challenging from the outset. One of the many obstacles that aspiring barristers encounter is the financial burden of the Bar Course, which can limit accessibility to the profession. I hope that this blog will raise awareness of the financial assistance offered by the four Inns of Court and encourage more students to apply for a Bar Course Scholarship.
Which Inn and why?
The four Inns of Court offer students the opportunity to apply for scholarships to fund the Bar Course. It is worth knowing from the outset that you can only apply to one Inn, and you join an Inn with the view of being a member for life. Therefore, the decision of which Inn to apply to is an important one.
When making the decision myself, I visited all four Inns. I also used their websites to look at scholarship information, including how many awards are given each year, and the scholarship application process for each Inn. For example, only Middle Temple and Inner Temple guarantee that every applicant will be interviewed, whereas Lincoln’s Inn has a paper sift before inviting a select few applicants to interview. Taking all of this into consideration, but primarily as I felt that my application would look strong in a paper sift, I chose Lincoln’s Inn.
Regardless of the Inn that you choose, the application process for a scholarship is challenging and time-consuming. Applying in your final year alongside your studies can be stressful, so I suggest choosing your Inn over the summer, ready to start your written application in the autumn semester.
Alongside the standard personal details questions, each Inn has its own bespoke set of questions that prompt applicants to justify their aspirations and skill sets. After I had written my first draft, I met with Peter Kay from the Careers and Employability Service, who then reviewed it. I would definitely recommend meeting with the Careers and Employability Service once you have a draft of your written application, as the style in which you approach the written application is unique.
It took numerous drafts and reviews to ensure I put forward the best version of myself, while simultaneously meeting all the criteria. Each Inn has its own criteria when reviewing scholarship applications, so it is worthwhile printing a copy of the criteria and referring to it whilst you are drafting.
After what felt like a very long wait, Lincoln’s Inn contacted me in January to invite me to interview. My interview was in-person with a panel of three barristers, and unlike previous years, I was not given a list of possible questions.
I arranged another meeting with Peter to help me prepare for the interview. Again this was very helpful as I quickly learned that I should approach my answers in a structured, logical, and reasoned manner. It is a common requirement between all four Inns for an applicant to be a ‘quick-thinker’ who is able to reason aloud, and so being able to practice this in mock interviews with Peter was invaluable.
Each applicant has a different experience of the interview, and the format of the interview will vary between the Inns. It is designed to challenge you, and so the best advice I can give is to go in feeling prepared and come out feeling that you have done your best.
The journey to the Bar is a long and challenging one, and the scholarship process is no exception. However, securing a Bar Course Scholarship has not only made Bar School much more accessible to me but has also proven that others believe I am capable of pursuing a career at the Bar. I cannot thank Peter enough for all the help and support he has provided over the past academic year.
I encourage everyone who is looking to complete the Bar Course, regardless of their background, to apply for a scholarship. It is hard work, but the reward is life-changing.
If you’re interested in a career in the legal profession, visit our law webpage compiled by Peter Kay, Senior Careers Adviser. The Law Careers Fair takes place on Monday 30 October where you can meet representatives from law firms and education providers. Peter will also be there!
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