8 things you need to know before applying for an Inns of Court scholarship

“Inner Temple for the rich, Middle Temple for the poor; Lincoln’s Inn for the gentlemen, And Gray’s Inn for a whore.”

Spoiler: this rhyme is very misleading.

1. The total annual scholarship pot is 5 million quid

money

For 2015, it breaks down like this between the four Inns of Court: Inner Temple (£1,655,625), Lincoln’s Inn (£1,534,000), Middle Temple (£900,000) and Gray’s Inn (£800,000). These figures also include Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) scholarships and pupillage awards, but most of the cash goes to BPTC students.

Bear in mind that the bigger the Inn, the more applications it tends to receive: Lincoln’s is the biggest, Gray’s the smallest.

2. Try to ignore the history of the Inns

graysinn2

Each Inn has charming histories — with their detailed websites containing tales of, for example, Shakespeare plays being performed in halls clad in wood plundered from Spanish Armada vessels (pictured above is Gray’s Inn’s “Armada Screen”).

This stuff is amazing, but try to ignore it: choose the Inn which offers you the best chance of a big payout (although it’s worth doing some cursory swotting up on history before the scholarship interview).

3. Inner and Middle award scholarships on the basis of need as well as merit — for Gray’s and Lincoln’s it’s merit only


This practical effect of this is that Gray’s and Lincoln’s scholarships go to students with top academics — some of whom (but no means all) are already pretty well off.

Inner and Middle offer a good way into the bar for those who got unspectacular 2:1s, but can make a good case for needing the money.

So there’s not a lot of truth in the old rhyme mentioned above.

4. Inner and Middle interview all candidates

everyone2
Inner leads the way in this respect, interviewing every eligible candidate since 2008, while Middle interviews all candidates “so far as practicable”. Gray’s and Lincoln’s offer no such guarantees.

5. You can win a rent free central London pad* for the year

Kevin-Poulters-magnificent-Kings-Cross-apartment

Some of Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn’s scholarships include rent free flats for the year in the heart of legal London. Subletting your amazingly-located room and finding a place in Homerton at half the price, while pocketing the difference, is believed to be seriously frowned upon.

*The photo above is how the Legal Cheek team imagines the flats look.

6. You do not need to be a member of an Inn to apply for their scholarship

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Students often incorrectly assume that you have to join an Inn — which costs around £100 — to apply for an Inns scholarship. That’s wrong. Anyone who’s planning to become a barrister can apply. You only have to join an Inn before starting the BPTC.

Note, though, that scholarship applications can only be made to one Inn.

7. Think carefully about which scholarships you target


Each Inn has a sometimes bewildering array of different scholarships, but they can be broken down into two categories: ones that cover the cost of your BPTC and ones that don’t.

Some argue that the latter type — which often don’t amount to much more than £3,000 — are of dubious value, barely chipping away at £18,000 plus BPTC fees, and in effect encourage students to take on more debt.

Others say winning these smaller awards were the confidence boost they needed to follow their dreams and embark on successful careers at the bar.

Whatever your view, it’s worth bearing in mind that Inns scholarships function not only as a way to help students fund their barrister dream, but also as an unofficial signpost for pupillage decisions. Chambers favour applicants who carry an endorsement from their Inn in the form of a financial award — even if it’s not a big one.

8. The deadline is next Friday

6nov

City law firms pour huge sums into marketing to promote their law school sponsorship packages because they’re desperate for the best students. With wannabe barristers operating semi-independently through chambers, the Inns lack an incentive to crow about all the money they offer.

Accordingly, each year the Inns’ Bar Professional Training Contract (BPTC) scholarship deadline passes far too many students by unnoticed. This year it’s on Friday 6 November.

Inns of Court

Inner Temple — scholarships website


Gray’s Inn — scholarships website


Lincoln’s Inn — scholarships website


Middle Temple — scholarships website


21 Comments

P.Seeker

To clarify, the accommodation award at Lincoln’s Inn isn’t rent free – a deduction of approx. £6500 (varies each year) is made from the major scholarship you tend to get alongside the accommodation. Still, very central at a reduced price. I believe Gray’s is still rent free.

With regard to accommodation, it’s probably also worth noting the numbers – Gray’s has 4 student rooms available I believe and Lincoln’s has 14 – 11 in 1 Old Buildings and 3 in 76B Chancery Lane.

Though it’s unfortunately nothing like the photo, the rooms (at Lincoln’s at least, I can’t speak for Gray’s) are great – relatively spacious for London/student accommodation, clean, neutrally decorated, well-equipped etc. I’d definitely recommend applying for one if you’re moving in to London for the BPTC.

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Bored

It is my understanding that with both Inner and Middle the decision to award a scholarship is based on merit only.

But then, other than the named awards, the amount that you then recieve takes in to account need.

I may be wrong but you may want to check.

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Generic

Bored is quite right. As Middle’s own website clearly explains “Once the decision to award a scholarship has been made by the interviewing panel, the question of financial need is considered and the size of the award determined. ”

So you might receive the ‘top’ named scholarship, the Queen Mother’s Scholarship, but receive a smaller sum than someone who receives a more modest named scholarship but needs the money.

Seems a sensible arrangement to me. Perhaps this could be made clearer, Legal Cheek?

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Anonymous

I applied for an Inner GDL scholarship and was rejected on need. Applied to Gray’s for BPTC and was accepted on merit. Inner definitely do still means test!

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Not Amused

Oh and on that blasted rhyme. I accept that every single person has a different version. HOWEVER it can’t possibly be “gentleman” Alex. All barristers are called to the Bar and that is published in the Court circular. So you are (if you weren’t already) officially a gentleman from that date. So the rhyme would never have used gentleman.

I was taught “Lincoln’s for the rich, Middle for the poor. Inner for the scholar. Gray’s for the whore” but accept that everyone switches the Inns around depending on personal prejudice!

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Likewise with Lincoln’s Inn. We award scholarships/bursaries on merit, and only on merit. But if somebody has independent means or is not in debt, the amount of the scholarship will sometimes be reduced, so that more money is left in the pot to fund yet more awards for others.

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Rufus

Chancery lane used to be the best place for whoring a century ago, hence the Grays reference…apparently. It’s just Starbucks and dull offices today sadly.

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Rufus

I applied for a middle gdl scholarship and they asked for my parents income. I didn’t get it (though not saying that’s due to my background). I went to Grays for a bptc scholarship and got a big one. They didn’t ask for parental income.

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Anon

There is an important error in this post which should be corrected. It is untrue that the value of an award from Gray’s Inn is determined solely by merit. I won the top scholarships from Gray’s Inn for the GDL year and the BPTC year (the David Karmel and the Bedingfield, respectively), and both awards were means-tested – in the case of the former, very heavily indeed (from £10k to £1k). I am certain that merit did not play a role in the reduction of each award, because I was so informed by Gray’s Inn.

It is not my intention to criticise Gray’s Inn for their decision – in fact, I believe that means-testing is entirely fair and appropriate – but it’s important to make this fact clear to potential applicants. There is a widespread myth that Gray’s does not use means-testing. This was the very reason that I applied there! I should also make it clear that I am comfortably well-off, but not even close to being some sort of millionaire.

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Don't fret

Not having a scholarship has only set me back financially (and a little emotionally!). I got pupillage without one. Now I know Gray’s does so few of them though, and not just on merit, I wish I had applied elsewhere!

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Anonymous

I’m afraid to say that this is a load of rubbish.

I’ve received nearly £25,000 from my Inn following BPTC and pupillage scholarships. I don’t have top academic results (Bs @ A Level, 2:1 from Red Brick, VC on BPTC). They really want to see your passion for your chosen area of law (not demonstrated by one hundred gazillion mini-pupillages), your flair for advocacy and your grit and determination to succeed; whether that be demonstrated through sporting or extra-curricular prowess, or a proven ability to overcome adversity or disadvantage.

If you’re the mustard then you’ll get a good scholarship wherever you are, and be wary of chasing the Inn with the biggest pot…they have the most applicants to spread it between.

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Lakely

Looking at the inns, I just wanted to check that they only offer scholarships for aspiring barristers? I am looking to go into commercial law, so they would not offer a scholarship for my GDL?
I do apologise if this is a stupid question, this is the first I have learned about the inns!

If I am wrong, then how does one decide which inn to apply to for a scholarship ?

Thank you!

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Anonymous

Can you spend your scholarship money on Gray’s whores?

Genuinely need to know. For a friend, obvs.

Just kidding. I have no friends.

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Anonymous

Can you apply to all four Inns to become a member to hedge your bets? (obviously you can only apply to one for the scholarship) I’m a bit confused.

Thanks.

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