Don’t Believe the Law School Scholarship Hype

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By Alex Aldridge on

Yesterday a press release from the College of Law appeared in my inbox, headed COLLEGE OF LAW LAUNCHES SCHOLARSHIPS FOR BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) STUDENTS.

An hour or so later I noticed Lawyer2B had published it as a news story. Now, usually when journalists write on-diary news they tone down the frequently hyperbolic tone of press releases. But in this instance, conscious that the story wasn’t all that exciting perhaps, Lawyer2B hyped it up.

The first line read: “The College of Law (CoL) has thrown a vital life-line to would-be barristers after launching two new dedicated scholarships.”

Now, back to what the College of Law – where 456 students do the BPTC every year – is actually offering:

Two scholarships.

One covers the full £15,000 course fees.

The other is £2,000 towards fees.

No doubt the two recipients of the scholarships – particularly the first one – will benefit greatly from the cash. But with the Inns of Court offering far, far, far more scholarships (£4.7 million worth last year), is the College’s £17K pair of prizes really such a “vital life-line”?

As regular readers of my Guardian column will know, I’m no fan of the Inns, whose wealth comes from massive property portfolios which they refuse to disclose revenue figures for. But for the practical purposes of a wannabe barrister, it’s these fat cats venerable institutions that should be the focus of their scholarship hunt, not a PR hungry law school battling it out in a tough legal education market.