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Inner Temple awards top scholarship to bencher’s daughter

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Exclusive: £22,000 BPTC prize goes to student with very close family connection to Inn

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The Inns of Court scholarship process is being questioned after it has emerged that Inner Temple gave its top award this year to the daughter of one of its own benchers.

The £22,000 Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) scholarship — the most prestigious of seven large bursaries awarded by the Inn purely on the basis of merit — went to the daughter of Guy Fetherstonhaugh QC.

Falcon Chambers barrister Fetherstonhaugh is a bencher of Inner Temple, which is an elected position filled by leading lawyers. Benchers are typically responsible for the governance of the Inn, including the supervision of finances.

Lead

Make no mistake, Fetherstonhaugh’s daughter — who Legal Cheek doesn’t see much point in naming — is a hotshot who very much fits the profile of the winner of a ‘Peter Taylor Scholarship’, as her award is officially known.

She has a double first in classics from Oxford University and has done a host of mini-pupillages at top London sets, plus work experience at magic circle outfit Slaughter and May. She completed her Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) earlier this year at City University.

But students and junior barristers who Legal Cheek spoke with still judged it as odd that the current bar scholarship system allows an Inn to give money to someone with whom it has close family ties.

With Inner Temple one of four Inns of Court that award funding to wannabe barristers — the others are Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn and Middle Temple — some view it as surprising that there is no rule which requires hopefuls to apply to other Inns where family members occupy bencher roles.

A tradition for barristers’ children to join the same Inns as their parents is one of the reasons that such a rule does not exist. But with bar offspring continuing to regularly make the same career choice as their mums and dads, perhaps it’s time for things to change.

For Inner Temple’s part, the Inn is adamant that Fetherstonhaugh’s daughter received the scholarship fairly and denies that there are any issues with the wider scholarship allocation process. Inner — which this year is providing £1,658,625 in scholarships — issued Legal Cheek with this statement:

Inner Temple Scholarships are awarded entirely on merit and are assessed against five key criteria that have been agreed by the four Inns of Court and are published on the Inn’s website. There is a clear process and marking scheme for interview panels. All of our scholarship interviewers must demonstrate, each year, that they have recently undertaken interview training.

It’s worth noting that some other Inner Temple student awards are allocated on the basis of need as well as merit, but these are usually smaller in value and categorised as “exhibitions”.

On its website, Inner describes the attributes it looks for in a candidate seeking financial assistance, with “intellectual qualities”, “motivation”, “relationships”, “character” and “impact” the key assessment areas. References must also be provided, but these cannot be from members of the student’s family.

The website explains that those called for interview will face a panel of scholarship committee members, with senior members of Inner Temple sometimes assisting the scholarship panel in the interview process.

When contacted by Legal Cheek yesterday, Fetherstonhaugh said:

I had no involvement in any part of the decision-making process that led to my daughter being awarded her scholarship.

Fees for the BPTC have climbed steadily over the past few years, with students who opt to study in London having to find around £18,500 to claim a place on the course. With the cost of living on top of this, scholarships are a vital lifeline for those unable to financially support their legal training.

Inner Temple is among the most pro-active of the Inns in supporting wider access to the bar, working closely with school students to help provide mini-pupillages though the Pegasus Access and Support Scheme.

130 Comments

Kuzka's Mother

Good to see that they’re giving cash prizes to the people who need them. I am positive there was no conflict of interest in this at all whatsoever.

(57)(17)

Anonymous

For what it’s worth, as a recipient of a named award as well as an exhibition award (low income background) I have absolutely no quarrel with awards granted on the sole criterion of merit alone being given to those who so happen to come from wealthy backgrounds.

It’s worth noting that a minority of Inner’s awards are made on this basis. The vast majority take financial need into account.

(17)(7)

Quo Vadis

Take the following three people (both friends of mine):

Person A: From a very wealthy family, a lovely flat in the centre of London, money for nights out, posh holidays. Scholarship for BPTC fees and small stipend.

Person B: Poor family, £25,000 in debt. Scholarship for BPTC fees only.

Person C: Poor family, £20,000 in debt, clearly not up to the required standard but allowed onto the BPTC anyway. About to load herself up with another £10,000 of BPTC debt. No scholarship.

Do you think this is fair? I certainly don’t.

(23)(14)

Anonymous

Because:

1) We do not have enough information with which to build an informed opinion (and a lot of what you say seems highly subjective);

2) You are clearly trying to make an emotive point, so it is unlikely that the scenarios are being relayed to us impartially; and

3) You do not seem to be able to differentiate between the number two and the number three;

I should think that this is pretty much an unanswerable question.

(17)(14)

gretavars@gmail.com

Right.
The above might be just isolated examples. There has not been an official survey or any sort of universal statistical research to prove that most BPTC scholarships go to already wealthy, arguably ”priviliged” applicants – in fact, I should presume the opposite.
So what?
What if it were only an emotional argument brought forth by bitter underachievers, and there is currently no wider problem with the way BPTC scholarships are assigned? This is not currently under discussion. We should be discussing, instead, whether or not all scholarships by definition should be means-tested as well as merit-tested – or even purely assigned on the basis of objective need. Especially considering Britain’s history and culture, and that of the British legal profession itself, which we have to recognize has been partly founded on principles of class and rank.

(0)(1)

Quo Vadis

The 2009/10 Pupillage Report stated that two thirds of pupils (hence, likely recipients of scholarships) had parents who were of managerial or professional employment.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

“hence, likely recipients of scholarships” Is that a sensible conclusion to draw? I do not know myself, but from personal experience most scholarship students I have known do not reflect the trends of the student/professional body they are in.

(1)(0)

Quo Vadis

Most pupils have scholarships; almost all tenants do. It is very difficult to find a pupil or tenant these days that does not have some award from their Inn. The number of scholarships available also tends to reflect the number of pupillages. If most pupils are from professional backgrounds, it is a fair assumption that scholarship recipients are as well.

Anonymous

So the issue is that the majority of pupils and tenants come from a professional background, and that this is reflected in the proportion of students who excel academically?

(0)(0)

inept

oh sure…’friends’ of yours. They’re all you aren’t they..

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Hi, I was the Anon you replied to.

I think it’s fair enough for your wealthy friend to be granted a scholarship and stipend provided said awards were given on merit alone (which I presume is the case)

As regards the others, it’s a shame they’re in debt (as a recent graduate hit with £9K fees I can empathise). But (a) nobody is forced to attend University, (b) if they do, they go in full knowledge of the debt they will be in, and (c) to the extent being forced into student debt is prejudicial against those from poorer families (an agreed unfairness) it would be more appropriate to pick a fight with the government than Inner Temple.

It is perhaps unsurprising your friend who is not up to BPTC standard failed to receive a scholarship or stipend. The awards are allocated on merit, not financial need. The latter is merely taken into consideration when determining the size of the package received.

That she is continuing with the BPTC is at best naivety and at worse ignorance. That a provider has permitted her to take the BPTC is at best wishful-thinking and at worst (in my view more likely) sheer greed. That is unfair, though again; nobody is forced to undertake the BPTC, and those that do know the costs of doing so. To the extent being forced into student debt is prejudicial against those from poorer families (an agreed unfairness) it would be more appropriate to pick a fight with the providers than Inner Temple.

Nothing in the scenarios described concerning persons A – C warrants criticism of the awards made by Inner Temple (or any Inn).

(8)(3)

Anonymous

“nobody is forced to attend university” – you clearly don’t live in the real world, do you!

(7)(5)

Doesn't live in real world

See rest of my quote for clarity;

‘… (b) if they do, they go in full knowledge of the debt they will be in, and (c) to the extent being forced into student debt is prejudicial against those from poorer families (an agreed unfairness) it would be more appropriate to pick a fight with the government than Inner Temple.’

Why is this the Inn’s/s’ fault?

(3)(0)

Random

Life is not fair. Get over it. There are people in other countries dying today, is that fair?

(8)(2)

James Poole

I was very disappointed to read such a lazy and vindictive article, which uses base innuendo to invite a conclusion that is wholly unsupported by the facts. The editors of Legal Cheek should be ashamed that they allowed such a misleading and spiteful article to desecrate their website.

(23)(24)

Anonymous

James dearest, was Miss F dating you at Oxford? or were you a regular invited to the fancy dinner parties organised by her father?

(10)(10)

James Poole

That certainly wasn’t the case, but thank-you for sharing the original author’s puerile sensitivities.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

youre a moron

(0)(2)

Anonymous

The real scandal is that such a large amount of money goes to someone who quite clearly doesn’t need it.

(55)(15)

Anonymous

Leaving aside this case, how is a candidate’s wealth assessed by the inns? Young people’s income, savings and property must be a poor guide since they have had no career and probably don’t own a house or flat. And they can’t ask about parents’ income, surely?

So do they judge it on the type of school you went to, where you live, and other background stuff on a form?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

There’s a very detailed form to fill out. If you don’t fill it out you get minimum money.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

The form requires financial information from your parents.

Source: did it.

(5)(0)

Gladiatrix

The Inns usually operate a rule of thumb whereby a candidate who meets the academic criteria for a scholarship but doesn’t actually need the money will receive the kudos attached but not the full monetary award. Perhaps the Fetherstonehaugh family is requiring the daughter to stand on her own feet and is not providing financial support; she is an adult after all.

(26)(7)

Anonymous

I would have thought it more likely that interviewers would discriminate against those whose parent is a bencher.

In any case, surely the real issue here is about equal opportunities: wouldn’t the £22k have been better given to someone who needs it? I don’t think Gladiatrix is quite right; my understanding is that most of the Inns do not means-test their scholarships (or at least a large proportion of the awards).

(10)(8)

Anonymous

I suppose it raises the question as to whether such scholarships are fundamentally charity or awards.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

I’m not really convinced that this is such a major issue. Looks like she has a great academic record and it’s in-keeping with tradition. People know how these kinds of things come across, so typically scrutinise any such applications harder than they would with anyone else.

If she had kept her family ties secret, obviously didn’t have the merit or if Fetherstonhaugh Snr had a say in the award process there might be a problem, but based on the information available none of those appear to be the case.

(24)(7)

Anonymous

NEWSFLASH: CANDIDATE WHO OBVIOUSLY MEETS CRITERIA FOR MAJOR SCHOLARSHIP IS AWARDED MAJOR SCHOLARSHIP

(84)(28)

Anonymous

Quite. This article is lazy and spiteful. Does it reveal evidence of nepotism on the scholarship interviewing panel? Nope. Does it divulge that the daughter deployed her father’s position to obtain an award she would not otherwise have secured on merit? Nope. Does it, then, simply choose to insinuate, without grounds or evidence, that the Inns are bent, and that the bar likes to keep it in the family and look after its own? Yep. That is what it does. And in the process, does it seek to discourage potential applicants to the bar, to cause them to believe that the system is not fair or meritocratic? Yep. It does that too.

(45)(6)

Boh Dear

Whilst hardly scoop of the century I think it’s important that these stories are reported on. The free press ensures that organisations hold themselves to account. Whilst I am in no doubt this award was legitimately granted it’s important nonetheless that questions are raised and a reasoned debate is had (as features below – a welcome, if slightly unexciting, change to LC usual comment threads).

I also think this article is very well balanced given it has comments from all parties concerned, raises questions but doesn’t make any sweeping allegations.

(14)(9)

Anonymous

The press is not a regulator. The fact that something is reported on implies that it is noteworthy or deserves scrutiny. “Inner Temple awards top scholarship to bencher’s daughter” is a weighted title that is designed to provoke a specific reaction, whereas “Candidate who obviously meets criteria for major scholarship is awarded major scholarship” is more reflective of the content of the story but would never have been chosen for obvious reasons.

To operate exclusively on this platform is to function as little more than a breeding ground for tittle-tattle, not industry regulation.

(4)(5)

Anonymous

Well said, Anonymous at 1:40pm. The article is little more than spiteful ‘click bait’. It should act as an incentive to stop clicking through to LC.

(8)(6)

Exasperation

There’s no doubt of her academic qualifications but giving yet another foot up the ladder to someone so far up it is totally ridiculous. Seriously – what is the point? She clearly has a career at the Bar set anyway so quite what this achieves is beyond me. As a member of the Inner Temple, it’s about time they got real & started means-testing this stuff. Utterly pointless & money which could have gone to a much better cause.

(32)(7)

Anonymous

I thought scholarships are competitions to demonstrate the greatest degree of academic excellence, and not competitions to determine who is the most impecunious.

(15)(5)

Exasperation

As the winner of a few ‘scholarships’ over the years, the intention surely was to underline academic merit but also to assist in the furtherance of my education because my parents were not in any position to assist. If they are not about providing financial assistance to those who merit them academically as well as financially why attach any financial element to them at all. Surely the name would be enough.

As to those who argue the award is an indicator of a serious candidate – utter rubbish. From this background of course she’s serious & she would have proceeded very well without it.

The Bar continues on in its own little world – one that increasingly bears little resemblance to any commercial reality.

(16)(6)

Anonymous

Is it really fair to have an open scholarship competition and then tell some winners “sorry, but you do not get a prize. I deem you too rich”? I suppose you could withdraw all talk of remuneration and assess awards confidentially on a case-by-case basis, but then you would have people whining about not having any security when they go for the scholarship in the first place.
This is also assuming that the individuals from strong financial backgrounds will be relying on those backgrounds for support. What about those who come from wealthy families but insist on living purely by their own means?

(3)(0)

inept

Perhaps get rid of the scholarship altogether then and offer bursaries only. Problem solved.

(1)(0)

Another MC trainee

There are meritorious candidates without wealthy backgrounds, you know.

(4)(3)

Anonymous

Of course. The financial background of the candidate is irrelevant when applying for the scholarship, as it is assessed on the basis of academic merit. What is your point?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

My point is that saying ‘we must only give it to the best candidates who or the candidates who need it’s a false dichotomy. There is no reason that scholarships can’t be given based on merit, but their value based on circumstances. That way, all of the best get the Inn recognition and the money is given to the people who can’t afford it otherwise.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

It is my understanding that most scholarships are calculated on that basis, and that only a select few (such as this one) are fixed lump sum.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Inner do the majority of their scholarships on that basis, but I believe limit them at BPTC fees. The largest scholarships that can actually allow someone to do the BPTC are not means tested, and I know that at least two of the other three Inns do not means test.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This isn’t a fair criticism. Either she deserved it on merit or she didn’t. The debate on merit/means-testing is a different issue and there are some who already do the latter. I suspect any discrimination would have been against her on grounds of embarrassment.

(9)(2)

Anonymous

Nasty, nasty article.

LC seems to be implying that this lady should not receive such a scholarship, merely because her father is an eminent barrister.

That is wrong.

if she is good enough for the scholarship, she is entitled to it. Remember that scholarships also serve to indicate to Chambers that the recipient is a serious pupillage candidate.

As long as her father played no part in the decision making process – and I see no reason to doubt his claim that he didn’t – I see no problem here.

(40)(15)

dave

The countdown to Not Amused’s meltdown has commenced…

(4)(0)

Bobbins

Who are you and why do you get a photo?

(10)(3)

Anonymous

(1)(11)

dave

Ha I wish I got paid for this. Thanks for the links, you must really love me. Interestingly only two though – none on other topics.

(2)(0)

Pear

Someone hired to stir idea anyone cares about LC’s celebrity posters….

http://www.legalcheek.com/2015/02/baroness-hale-bemoans-11-years-women-judges-overlooked-promotion-highest-court/

(0)(8)

anonymous

Why shouldn’t this woman be awarded the scholarship? She has all the criteria necessary for the scholarship (and presumably more, given that she was awarded it over other candidates). The fact that this decision is facing so much public scrutiny and criticism suggests that she really must be deserving as this is something that the Inns was likely to have anticipated and yet it decided to award the scholarship regardless, presumably because they felt that she was so deserving that the decision could withstand this criticism.
This scholarship is one of very few that is awarded on the basis of merit and so no matter how generous it is, finances do not come into the question at all. Further, it is not appropriate to assume that her father is wealthy and will support her anyway.
Therefore, why should a deserving candidate be prohibited from being awarded a prestigious scholarship to a fantastic inns, which they have obviously had to work extremely hard for over the years, just because a family member also happens to be part of the same inns?

(15)(3)

Quo Vadis

The stark truth is that the Bar is now too risky a career choice for those without a private income. Think about it. You pay three lots of university fees, £27,000, then the BPTC, £18,000, and living expenses for four years’ study, at least £24,000. If you are supporting yourself via student loans, half of all pupillages (and, presumably, tenancies) will not allow you to repay them. I had several friends during university who loved advocacy, and would have made excellent barristers, but who entered the solicitors’ profession simply as a means of keeping a roof over their head. That is talent lost to the Bar forever.

(9)(1)

Another MC trainee

Absolutely. I would have loved to go to the bar, and when I did the TC applications usually got the comment that my CV looked like I was angling for pupillage instead. But the simple fact is that I couldn’t have afforded the BPTC even with a good sized scholarship.

There are major advantages to being a sol – client contact, close team work, more obvious career progression – and I don’t regret the choice. I also accept that I might not have been good enough to become a barrister – though I had an extremely solid background for it, including a distinction in a good LLM and solid mooting performances, I didn’t get a first or go to Oxbridge. But I will always regret that there was no point in me even giving it a go. Had I made the applications and failed, that would have been one thing. But it was simple lack of money, and far too great a risk, that drove me off even attempting the profession.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

But pupillages are given out a year in advance precisely so that no one has to start the bptc before having attained pupillage. Admittedly you have to apply for bptc scholarships before knowing (in most cases) whether you’ll have pupillage.

(0)(1)

Another MC trainee

I know many young barristers, pupils, and future pupils, and not a single one got their pupillage before doing the BPTC. I know it isn’t unheard of, but the additional support and training on the course is practically a necessity now to get that pupillage, considering that literally thousands of people have already done it before applying.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This isn’t right. Around 30% or so of pupillages are given to those who are applying pre-BPTC.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Most of those are for the commercial bar. In crime it’s rare to get it the first time around… normally takes 2-3 attempts.

(0)(0)

Kuzka's Mother

I never really considered going to the bar – I feel I made the right choice becoming a solicitor and am happy it’s worked out well thus far – but I think a major part of that is because when I started my GDL I was essentially told not to bother applying for pupilage because I didn’t have a first from Oxbridge (just a first from a top-10 redbrick) and, as a foreigner, my accent is more what one would describe as ‘bastardised American’ than Eton English (funnily enough, it has not caused me any problems when it comes to dealing with clients and colleagues, nor has it caused any issues with any advocacy I’ve had to do in court). So while I’ve never really considered it, I’ve never even had it as an option to begin with, which does make me wonder how many others who would be well-suited have simply gone straight for a TC rather than attempting to get pupilage.

(0)(0)

Not Amused

1) “I was essentially told not to bother applying for pupilage because I didn’t have a first from Oxbridge”
2) “and, as a foreigner, my accent is more what one would describe as ‘bastardised American’ than Eton English”

So you were effectively told 2 lies when you were a kid. Now many would say that you could have done a bit of research and concluded they were lies. But I have immense sympathy with kids who are lied to – so you won’t find me saying that.

Where my sympathy for you may end is if you cross the line from saying “as a kid I was duped” in to “the lies I was told were real and I hate the Bar because of it”.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

not being able to spell pupillage properly would have been my concern, should you have applied for one.

(2)(0)

Kuzka's Mother

Well coming to hate something you were told you could never achieve is a bit pointless. I’m happy with things as they panned out anyway and feel I made the right decision, but it does worry me to think that so many talented youngsters will be steered away from the bar – the awful press around the criminal bar of late is probably doing no favours either.

As for misspelling pupillage, you can blame my phone’s touchscreen for that. I mean, like, at least give me credit forgetting all my apostrophes in the right place and stuff!

(0)(0)

Kuzka's Mother

*for getting. Touchscreen strikes again. I didn’t forget any apostrophes. Can this go off to the client now?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

It’s only the top seven scholarships that aren’t means tested (the seven “named awards”). The dozens of other “exhibition awards” are all means tested, with each applicant having to provide details of theirs and their parents’ finances. And while the means tested exhibition awards are smaller, they can be worth up to about £20,000.

I think Inner’s scholarship system is actually quite a nice balance between meritocracy and need. This girl is clearly pretty talented. And her award won’t have prevented other good candidates with greater needs from getting £20,000 or so.

(17)(0)

Quo Vadis

…so £154,000 may still be given to candidates who may not need it.

(1)(5)

Anonymous

£154,000 goes to the 7 best candidates, no matter who they are.

That is less than 10% of the scholarship budget.

(7)(3)

Quo Vadis

And what if they are filthy rich? Is that a good use of limited funds? I know several wannabe barristers who could not even afford the train fare to their pupillage interviews!

(4)(7)

Anonymous

Yes.

It is a good use of 90% of the funds to help outstanding candidates with financial need.

Also, Chambers reimburse travel expenses for interviews.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Not every chambers.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

I really doubt many would refuse.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

This is just whingeing by this point.
If you can find Chambers so cheap that they will refuse to reimburse the travel expenses of someone in such dire financial straits that they would not be able to attend interview without it, then they were probably not right for that applicant in the first place.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

It is also a good use of less than 10% of the scholarship budget to provide an incentive to bring the absolute best and brightest to the bar, no matter their background.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

But the brightest from the wealthier backgrounds with connections at the Bar will go anyway! Is anyone seriously suggesting without this award the person concerned wouldn’t have gone to the Bar?

(5)(4)

Anonymous

It is untenable to tell a winning candidate “I believe you would have applied regardless of the incentive, therefore I am withdrawing the incentive”. You apply on the basis that the winning candidates receive the remuneration, and it is borderline fraudulent for an adjudicating body to change their minds in respect of some candidates only post-award. There is no way to reasonably prove it and the matter will end up hinging on the personal prejudices of the relevant adjudicator. You cannot discriminate against someone in an open awards process on the grounds that you believe they are too wealthy.

It is not unreasonable to posit that someone with a double-first in a good degree from Oxford, a number of mini-pupillages at reputable sets, work experience in a Magic Circle firm and a GDL from another leading university would be a suitable candidate for a scholarship. You have no more right to attempt to invalidate that on the basis of her family connection than you do on the basis that she is a woman.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

quo non vadis. lol?

(1)(0)

Not Amused

I don’t like this story because it names the dad. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that you didn’t name the kid (no, wait, more honest to say – I would be extremely angry if you had), but naming the dad was unnecessary. I cannot see the value in focusing on the individuals concerned and nothing I type below relates to this case specifically.

We might however, want to have a debate about this as a broader topic. The comments by the BPTC students seem well balanced. Inn scholarships are really there in order to over come the huge social mobility barriers that exist in access to the Bar. Means testing them all seems relatively sensible to me.

Secondly I note that Inn scholarships are increasingly used or assigned some sort of status in pupillage selection. I dislike that. The kids do 2 years of a levels and 3/4 years of degree. During which they are properly assessed by people whose job it is to make academic assessment decisions.

In contrast the Inn process is just a small group of enthusiastic amateurs who have an interview and say “we think he’s super”. Why on earth would I assign any weight or value to that opinion? Barristers are largely self absorbed ego maniacs who have never (in my experience) consciously uttered the phrase “actually, that’s outside the scope of my knowledge” to any question or task. What is the value in their view?

Then you need to factor in the lack of any real experience in making these decisions. The lack of proper training. The danger of unconscious bias and the natural human desire for PLU. (Let’s also not ignore that the panels are from mixed practice areas).

Then you need to look at the criteria these enthusiastic amateurs use: ” “intellectual qualities”, “motivation”, “relationships”, “character” and “impact” the key assessment areas”. I see. What exactly does the word relationships mean? What does character mean? Why are they a member of the Inn if they have bad character? Are we saying Mother Theresa would make a better barrister than Jonathan Sumption because he bought a castle in France but she would have given it to the poor? What on earth is impact?

It looks to me like waffly, vaguely politicised nonsense. Sure it’s their money so they can give it out as they please (although I would support means testing) – but I think the assumption that we can ascribe any merit or value to their whims is very dangerous. If an kindly eccentric maiden aunt (see Wodehouse) gave some kids a couple of grand to sit the BPTC, I would thank her profusely, but I wouldn’t ask her her view on the kid’s merit.

Organisations who try to pretend or re-package subjective opinions as objective ones always get exposed in the end. They should just dole out the cash on a merit basis with minimum, objective, academic standards. Or even better would be to decide not to give 1.6mill to disreputable capitalists and instead to run an Inn course with affordable rates.

(20)(4)

Anonymous

Scholarships are currently meritocratic, which is way they are a boost to any pupillage application.

The scholarship interviewers are barristers, many of whom will be on pupillage committees for their respective chambers. Your implication that the scholarship committees don’t know any more than an eccentric aunt is ridiculous.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Actually, it’s not a ridiculous statement. I’ve met many barrister who’ve told me they don’t ever decide to interview someone solely on whether or not they have a scholarship. The downside is that junior barristers who (generally speaking ONLY) do the sift may be too tired and in some sets may just bin everyone who doesn’t have a scholarship. (Even if this is widespread, which some guess it is but no one really knows, blaming junior barrister isn’t the answer.) The point is, fantastic candidates don’t get scholarships in the same way that some average people do get pupilage. It isn’t the be all and end all.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The article names the dad but doesn’t name the kid? I agree that the article disingenuously claims it doesn’t name the kid. But let’s think about this for a second. Is there any way someone could perhaps work out the kid’s name from the dad’s name? I wonder. Perhaps. Could the kid’s name be: Fetherstonhaugh?!?

(5)(0)

Balderdash Esq.

What, you mean that very commonplace surname Featherstonhaugh? No way anybody could possibly identify her from that; all LC did was give her gender, her degree, her university, the place where she did her GDL, her Inn of Court and her work experience. Christ, you’d need to be trained as a private detective to figure out who she is…………..

(16)(0)

Humpin' Humphrey

I’m not a bazza so I don’t really give a flog.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

“The Inns of Court scholarship process is being questioned” – just by you LC, right?

(7)(4)

Anonymous

It is very good to see, from many of the comments above, that the readership of Legal Cheek is for the most part a great deal more fair-minded than the author of this ‘news’ article.

(7)(8)

DontBeStupid

Dozens of scholarships at Inner based on academic merit and economic circumstance (i.e. you get a scholarship based on merit; the value of said scholarship is based on need). This is a named scholarship. It is a fixed amount. It is for the best person they interviewed that year. I happen to know the person in question, and she is exceptionally qualified.

Also, to those saying even the named scholarships of a fixed amount shouldn’t go to those from prosperous backgrounds it’s worth pointing out that there’s a good chance the awards are drawn from trusts that had certain stipulations attached that cannot be overcome.

Finally, Inner Temple is great at access. Articles like this create a false impression of nepotism that discourages bright kids going to the Bar. It isn’t as much nepotism in actuality that puts people off but the fear of it, perpetuated by LC (amongst others).

(12)(2)

Lol

“she is exceptionally qualified” – yes, and she also had access to information (and even, perhaps, experience) that hardly any other student would have had.

I think many people, like you, are missing the point of this article; it doesn’t actually matter that she’s in fact exceptionally qualified, but it does matter that there is an APPARENT (even if not a real) bias and an APPARENT (even if not a real) unfair advantage.

(11)(9)

Anonymous

“she also had access to information (and even, perhaps, experience) that hardly any other student would have had”
[citation needed]

(5)(3)

Lol

No citation necessary. Her father is a QC, Head of Chambers, and Bencher – nobody can reasonably suggest that this hasn’t helped her. His knowledge and advice (which he very likely did not withhold) will have been invaluable to her.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

Of course they can. The most telling words in your comments are qualifiers such as “likely”, “hardly”, “perhaps” etc.. These are spurious accusations based on little more than ‘what I reckon’. You have no insight into this young woman’s personal or professional life. It is possible that she had received advice from her father, but there is nothing to suggest that she received any information, knowledge or advice that would have tipped the balance in her favour any more than her exceptional academic record or that she could not have obtained through the kind of research and preparation expected of any serious candidate.

The chambers and her father have categorically stated and explained that she was not given preferential treatment, and her academic merits are well-known. They have already done far more than they needed to dispel any suspicions of foul play. There is no presumption to rebut.

“stands to reason, don’t it?”-style speculations are not really worth taking seriously, and the onus is on you to provide real evidence that he has given her assistance which would not have been available to anyone else who had done the same as her.

(5)(3)

Anonymous

she is in fact notorious in her refusal to use any sort of nepotism and to ask advice from her father due to a somewhat exceptional desire to go at it alone. thus your baseless accusation of having so many home advantages is not true.

(9)(8)

Anonymous

But the point is that as the offspring of someone who is a leader in their field, she is bound to have benefited already from the latent advantage that those with barristers as parents have in terms of their insight into the profession – just as, with a parent who’s a teacher, I would benefit if I chose to go down that route. That, at least, should be acknowledged, though it doesn’t mean that the student’s achievements should be dismissed. As for the amount – that’s surely an argument about awarding the type of scholarship on merit and the amount on means. Middle do this already.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

That’s like saying you’re all priviledged because you’ve met a barrister and got advice. I’d be shocked if there is a single student going for a BPTC scholarship who a) has never met a barrister and b) never got advice from them. I highly doubt that this girl has had any more advantage than anyone else who won a named scholarship, or any scholarship at all, or the rejects.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Anon at 8.58 – it’s not the same thing, and you know that full well. Growing up with a family member who’s a barrister and can give you the inside track (explicitly or implicitly) is very different from receiving the sort of advice you get from barristers on mini-pupillages. There is a depth of understanding that comes with having family members in the profession. That doesn’t mean that the candidate in question isn’t well-qualified, but it’s naive to pretend that she hasn’t been advantaged in her path to the Bar by who her father is.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Perhaps but if you’re excellent at networking, then really you have EXACTLY the same amount of opportunity. Well I do, and my friends do. None of us have barristers or even lawyers in the family! It’s called hard work!!!

(0)(1)

Anonymous

I applyed for a skolarship from Inner Tempel. But they never give me one. Said I should think about a diffarent carreer that was more suited to my level of accademic ability. So I done the LPC and I’m a solicitor now.

(17)(8)

Evan Price

The editors ought to be ashamed of themselves, identifying the daughter while claiming that they are not.

The Middle Temple means tests all scholarships, but awards the scholarships on merit alone. Other Inns have chosen a different path, but does it really matter that much when the sums that are given on a mean tested basis are substantial? My view is that I prefer Middle’s approach; but I do not think that the other Inns are anti-meritocratic, just different.

(12)(6)

Anonymous

It is madness to give £22,000 to the daughter of the head of a very wealthy set. That the head is also a prominent bencher implies the awarding committee will have been aware of both who he is and his daughter’s access to finances.

“Best candidate on merit” is a nonsense. She got it because she went to the right University and had the right contacts. Like virtually everybody else in this ****ing profession.

(16)(17)

Anonymous

she went to the right university because she was clever?

(5)(2)

Anonymous

and also didn’t use her contacts. don’t comment about things you know little or nothing about and are merely making baseless assumptions over. as much as the face of the situation can look a certain way, the reality does not necessarily follow this despite the assumptions you make

(4)(7)

Anonymous

Really? And the status of her father in the profession had absolutely zero bearing on the litany of experience she was able to draw upon in applying for her scholarship? At no point did it factor in decisions to award mini pupillages, vac scheme places or anything else? She did not, by virtue of the position and status of her father, ever rub shoulders with the gilded elite of the profession she sought to enter at dinners, both home and in the Inn? She came to this as a total unknown outsider judged solely on her academic capability at every turn?

Seriously!?

Best laugh I’ve had since the wife cleared off!

(9)(8)

Anonymous

You don’t need a barrister as a parent to network & gain experience/insight etc.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

I’m hearing a lot of problems, but not much talk of a solution. Are we supposed to view her application with prejudice because of an accident of birth? How is that different to treating a candidate with prejudice because they have no parents in the legal profession?
As long as the due diligence requirements are met to avoid conflicts of interest (and we have no reason to suspect that they were not) there is no problem to address.
Also, as a previous poster said, if you don’t have any contacts you need to make them. Speaking as a first-gen lawyer who had to make their own contacts, it’s really not that difficult to get in touch with senior lawyers and discuss what people look for in an applicant.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

The solution is for an Inn of Court not to give £22,000 to the daughter of one of its very wealthy Benchers.

Nominal scholarship for prestige? I would be less concerned about this.

The solution is glaringly obvious and had she been given a meagre £300 or something else tokenistic, there really would not be a story.

It tells me everything I need to know about the mindset of the awarding committee that they simply must have realised who this woman was, must have been aware of how it would look to award her such a large sum, and then duly disregarded all these concerns! Presumably because of the typical “best candidate” nonsense – i.e. she got a first from Oxford therefore everybody else in the country was inferior.

This profession really is on borrowed time.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

There should not be a “right” university! It is irrelevant to the question of how clever she is whether or not she went to Oxford. She would have been just as clever at St Andrews or Durham but not, I beg to suggest, likely to have secured her scholarship or the pupillage which will inevitably flow from it.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

You probably went to brookes

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Justice should not only be done, but should be seen to be done.

(11)(3)

Anonymous

He who comes to equity must come with clean hands.

(8)(0)

Groovy Gibbon

One must always have regard to the overarching principles of the common law.

(2)(0)

Ass-Eater LJ

If you drop some food on the floor and pick it up within 5 seconds it is still edible.

(18)(1)

Anonymous

Head of Chambers in Rumpole of the Bailey – Guthrie Featherstone QC. Implicated father in this story – Guy Fetherstonhaugh QC.

Hmm…Is this some elaborate hoax?

(7)(1)

Anonymous

This is a nasty piece of cheap writing. Inner temple awards its top scholarships purely upon merit, but the vast majority of its awards are calculated according to need.

Any proper survey of inner temple scholars will confound categorisation into the tiresome, lazy themes of privilege.

Having admitted that the student seems qualified, and failing to offer any evidence that it wasn’t deserved, what is the story? Would legal cheek prefer that Students are denied awards because of who they are?

A disgusting attack piece on a young person who has, to my knowledge, sought no notoriety of exposure.

Shame on you.

(16)(4)

Anonymous

THIS IS NOT NEWS. She has a double first from Oxford. She was destined for a scholarship.

(14)(9)

Anonymous

This young woman was a mini pupil in my chambers and she was the most talented student I have seen in some time. I have no connection with her. She is superb. I wish her well in her pupillage.

(20)(10)

Groovy Gibbon

Just ask her out ffs!

(16)(1)

Real Oxford Graduate

When will people realise that Oxford does not give out double firsts????? Cambridge gives them. Oxford does not. End of. This young lady has a first, and also got a first in her Mods (exams Oxford Classics students take half way through the second year of their four year course). But she does not have a double first. I know the Bar is awash with barristers claiming they got double firsts from Oxford. They didn’t. They couldn’t. Oxford does not, and has never, awarded them.

(BTW I got a 2.1. From Oxford)

(7)(9)

More Real Oxford Graduate

To the ‘Real Oxford Graduate’, as a fellow alumnus, I must stand to correct you here. Oxford does indeed give out double firsts despite your somewhat bullish claims. Although you are close to the truth – most degrees do not receive such an award – Classics is in fact an exception to this.

(11)(0)

Real Oxford Graduate

You are wrong. This is the argument that those that sits Mods (as opposed to Prelims) can get Double Firsts. No they can’t. Nor can anyone.

(0)(4)

More Real Oxford Graduate

I am afraid I am not wrong. As tradition states, Classics students can receive a double first. Of course, this doesn’t mean anything more impressive than a first (in 1st year exams and finals) in another subject. However, since this is merely a matter of semantics, tradition holds true and like it or not, a set of firsts in mods and greats for classics is technically called a double first.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Greats, the Alan Blacker of Oxbridge degrees

(2)(0)

Dionysus

You are wrong, and anyone can make up academic qualifications on an unaccountable anonymous comment thread.

(BTW I got a first from the University of Mount Olympus)

(3)(0)

Anon

I think this just confirms that all Inns’ scholarships should be means-tested.

Does she deserve the most prestigious, top-of-the-hierarchy scholarship? Probably. Does she need all that money given her background? Unlikely.

(9)(3)

Anonymous

The rich are given free money. The Bar replies, “so what?” Story summed up.

(10)(3)

Anonymous

A student from what is assumed to be a wealthy background wins an academic award. Based on almost no information, moral busybodies and lefties get all emotional, whinge and offer up half-arsed unconscionable solutions to a non-problem.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Not “assumed to be”. It IS a wealthy background! I don’t care what ‘academic’ award she won, I care about the rich being given free money they do not need, in a profession already over populated with the ranks of the rich to begin with.

The Inns are like the Bourbon dynasty of old after the restoration with Napoleon’s first exile to Elba – they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing!

(0)(2)

More Exasperation

If you go back to somewhere like the 19th century & look at ‘scholarships’ say an exhibition or scholarship at Oxbridge or major public schools, the whole purpose of their introduction was to provide assistance for the academically gifted but under financed (and in fact read for that, poor). This was the whole point. The ‘scholarship kid’ was traditionally possibly the cleverest but equally the poorest. This is why a financial award is tied to the achievement. It is not ‘oh well you’re rich & clever, have some more money’, it is ‘you’re clever but poor & need extra money to help you achieve your proper worth in society’.

What continues to exasperate, is the majority on these pages (judging by votes etc), don’t seem to get this. By all means give the person the award, festoon her head in laurel wreaths, give her a parade down Fleet St for that matter, but do not attach so much money to it when she clearly comes from a privileged background & does not need the assistance. & I don’t care that it’s only 10% of the total award budget – it is fundamentally wrong in principle.

So – the awards should only be open full stop to those who need the assistance. Or they are run as a scheme which recognises merit but is only of nominal value, finances being attached to those who need it.

On a side note, was the application made anonymously? If not, because it is such a distinctive surname, whether she sought favour or not, it would have been automatically known who her father was & she benefits in any event. Equally, the same will apply throughout her career. It takes me back 20 years when I completed pupillage & a contemporary whose father was then a leading light actually had interview committees apologising for having to interview him. He didn’t name drop or anything – they simply knew who he was & gave him the preference anyway.

For anyone outside this increasingly marginalised profession, the wrongs of this award are glaringly obvious. If she is deciding to go it on her own – well, great – but that is a choice, not a compulsion like it is for so many young people entering the profession.

All this incident shows, along with so many of the comments on this thread, is the Bar remains totally out of touch with reality & is still languishing in the dark ages.

(12)(7)

Anonymous

“The Bar … is still languishing in the dark ages”
“Scholarships should be more like the 19th century”
alrighty

(3)(0)

ghetto princess

What p1sses me off is those who already have pupillage with bptc drawdowns of say £10-25k AND then they are awarded a residential scholarhsip (free living accomodation at the inn for the bptc year) AND then they are awarded an Inn scholarship of say £15k. so they have free accomodation, free bptc fees – plus an extra lump sum for what exactly? to have luxuries and buy perfumed soap and catch taxis? scholarships should be limited and spread out, as should pupillage awards. it would be commercially better if chambers could offer 5 x pupillages for modest sums, rather than 1 large 1. this at least gives people the chance to get their practising certificates to do whatever they want, tenancy isnt so important. but instead you have tons of us working in NMW paralegal roles, under 15k pa- thus not giving us a chance to pay back our student loan debts and not paying much tax towards the economy.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

Only 2 Inns give out residential scholarships. None give out extra money as you seem to call it; that could only be a reference to pupillage drawdows, and frankly that’s life. I don’t want to go the commercial bar, so the reality is I don’t get that kind of money. The difference between us is that I don’t whine about it.

It’s like those who get tenancy then drop out 3 years later because they’re broke – no offence, but if you couldn’t calculate that you were gonna be broke AND be not able to handle it, you shouldn’t have gotten pupillage when others who are more dedicated would have taken it and ran.

(1)(2)

Harry

I’m actually disgusted that you’ve drafted this article in this manner. Having a discussion about the broad issues is fine, but doing everything to identify the girl short of posting a picture? It’s vindictive.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

3 pupils in a single set up north this year:
One whose father is a well-known judge, who the members of the pupillage committee were openly keen to impress. Another whose father is a judge and mother is a barrister. Yet another whose father’s best friend is the head of chambers.

(6)(4)

Anonymous

I know two pupils in a set in London.

One of them is the son of a famous billionaire-turned judge. He got a third in History of Chinese Art from Oxford (CCB at A-Level; his mother plays Russian Roulette with a member of the admissions panel every Wednesday brunch), and who hired a body-double to do the BPTC instead of him while he did a work experience placement shadowing Robert Mugabe’s chief of security (until he got thrown out for chundering on a lion). He got a full scholarship, a weekly allowance from his Chambers (payments into his account are market “when da LCJ man throws in a lil’ extra. Luv ya bby xoxoxo”) is already a QC despite not having completed his pupillage and received a tender kiss on the cheek at the end of his interview.

The other pupil is the daughter of a chimney-sweep from Hackney. She received a doctorate in Law, Politics, History, Maths, Biology, Particle Physics, Chemistry and Ritualistic Dance from Cambridge. She got all A*** at A-Level (she did so well they made up a grade for her), but the admissions officer only allowed her in on the condition that all the lecturers and students give her a kick up the arse whenever they see her. She self-funded the BPTC by donating all her internal organs to foreign millionaires, and earned new internal organs by saving all the residents of an old people’s home from a ruthless Texas oil baron. She was awarded a scholarship by evoking the unambiguous rule that the student with the highest grades would win the award (the head of the admissions panel was heard to have loudly yell “curses!” upon finding out), but was not given any maintenance or other payment (or wage). She was allowed to live in the cupboard, but now the QCs have forced her to live in a cardboard box at an industrial estate in Milton Keynes (she has to commute by befriending and taming wild badgers every morning).

Is that fair, I ask you, IS THAT FAIR!?!?!?
(source: would I lie to you?)

(14)(2)

Mandarin

I am at this Inn. I am not privileged. Comp school, first to uni in the family, first lawyer in the family…..I had 12 mini pupillages, won moots internationally and nationally, went to top 5 red brick, pro bono, A*/As and first class degree, had jobs…..didn’t get a scholarship. I am now finishing pupillage having been on £12,000 p.a in London living in a basement next to a car park and paying my bar course loan at £400 a month. I could have slipped through the net like so many put off by cost and no scholarship funding but I didn’t through sheer determination. The price? My health mentally and physically because I’m in debt and not paid well. The system is broken to give money away to people who on merit may be the same as others but happen to have an insider at the Inn. For me though, I will only be stronger cor knowing what it is to graft and not have things on a plate.

(3)(1)

Sick to the stomach

Tired of the UK going backwards. Social mobility achieved last decade destroyed by ferrile weasel in government. Barristers who have a broad experience in life are the ones who survive tough times, not some daughter whose not had to work hard to earn money because daddy sorts it out. Be glad you have parents – i know people with none who make exceptional lawyers.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

This article is nasty and spiteful.

On the other hand, I’ve often thought that Inn Scholarships and pupillage interviews could be improved by taking the simple step of anonymising the application forms. Frankly I don’t know why it hasn’t been done already.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.