Aspiring barrister denied an Inner Temple scholarship raises BPTC funds (and more) after ‘mystery person’ donates £12,500

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Leila Taleb starred in a new BBC programme about her law school plans

Leila Taleb

An aspiring lawyer says a “mystery person” has given her £12,500 so she can study the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

Leila Taleb recently starred in a BBC short called Breaking out in Bradford. The programme followed the 25-year-old — who is from a working class family in Bradford — as she applied to The University of Law in Leeds. In it, she said:

It must be a cool and powerful thing to know the law and know your shit and then be creative and work within those parameters to seek justice for the person. The reason why I want to become a barrister is because I feel like there’s a lack of barristers that know what’s going on on the ground, that actually know about people.

At the end of the programme, Lancaster University LLB graduate Taleb secures her BPTC place weeks after completing her entry assessment.

A happy ending — however when we got in touch with Taleb things didn’t seem so peachy. She told us she’d applied for an Inner Temple scholarship but was unsuccessful, and was now appealing the Inn’s decision and looking to raise £14,500 to pay for the course.

Taleb — who has a masters degree in applied human rights from the University of York — set up a crowdfunding page to help fund the fees. Though the target was originally set at £14,500, it was later reduced to £12,500 to take into account a £2,000 ULaw advocacy scholarship Taleb says she’s been awarded.

A screenshot of Leila Taleb’s fundraising page

Now, just a week after she began crowdfunding, Taleb claims to have reached her target thanks largely to a “mystery person who donated £12,500”. The full update on her fundraising page is screenshotted below.

Speaking to Legal Cheek this morning, Taleb said she is “ecstatic and extremely grateful” to the supporters who donated to her appeal, though she had nothing to add about the mystery £12,500 donor. She continued:

I want to also thank my family, friends and all the organisations out there, who have supported me and backed me all the way. I was privileged that the BBC made a documentary about me and it would be insincere of me to disregard all of those other people that have worked and continue to work tirelessly to reach their end goal and are not always recognised for such efforts. Privilege is something that should be shared and not held onto by any one person. A true meritocracy is when every single person has equality of opportunity, no matter what background they come from. One day, I aim to return the favour and help someone in the same way that I have been supported.

Inner Temple has informed us it has nothing more to add at this stage beyond its original comment on the story, which stressed its scholarships are awarded “on merit alone” and “assessed against five key criteria.”


Aspiring barrister who documented her BPTC struggles in new BBC programme is appealing Inner Temple’s decision to deny her a scholarship [Legal Cheek]

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Lol @ the BBC documentary suggesting admission on to BPTC is competitive.

I worry for the (working class) viewers who don’t know anything about the Bar. This documentary is extremely misleading.



Serious question for Leila (because we all know she is reading this): did you apply for pupillage in the current cycle?

I’m astonished that the crowd funding page and the BBC documentary doesn’t once mention the word pupillage – the single biggest hurdle to becoming a barrister. I worry Leila doesn’t actually know about pupillage.



Don’t ask, don’t get…



From the fundraising page: “I’ve spent countless hours doing voluntary work to help me gain the skills I’ll need for my legal career. Unfortunately that’s meant I’ve had less time to earn money to pay for my course”

The cheek – do ego boosting voluntary work and then beg for hand outs from the public



Accidentally reported parent comment. Cursed pudgy thumbs.



Well done!



This is really, really difficult.

The Inn would have assessed her chances to actually practice to be low.

The anonymous donor wouldn’t have access to that information to assess her chances.

The difficult problem will be pupillage and tenancy.



Even more difficult when she says that the reason she wants to practice is that she doesn’t believe barristers know what’s happening on the ground. Beyond condescending.



Yes, the donor is a bit silly. It’s all being presented as if no working class person has ever done the BPTC and no doubt the donor has no understanding of how competitive the Bar is, or of how generous the Inns are to those who have merit. Leila’s chances of pupillage are not good, but I wish her luck. If she’s not paying for it, she might as well enjoy the ride.



It’s fine, if she doesn’t get pupillage she can just appeal. Then JR.

She could have got a career development loan or secured pupillage first and drawn down.

Oh well. Good luck.



Not getting an Inns scholarship does not mean that the Inn has assessed your chances of getting pupillage as being “low”, don’t be so ridiculous. Not every applicant is interviewed, and obviously not every interviewee is awarded a scholarship. Those who are invited to interview will already be in the top percentage of applicants by definition, and not being awarded a scholarship simply means somebody else was, potentially only VERY slightly when it came down to it, better than you. If the standard across the board is extremely high, which it always is, I can tell you (having been on a bar scholarships committee) that those you reject are often in many ways just as good as those to whom you make offers; there just aren’t enough awards for everyone. What I find most concerning about the comments on this young applicant’s efforts is the snobbery, the bitterness and the bullying coming from a younger generation we are told ought to know better. I suggest that those of you who have yet to be given pupillage concentrate on your own progression rather than throwing insults and judgement at the efforts of another.



She was interviewed.

And the point is, if people are better than you at scholarship interview, they’re likely to be better than you at pupillage interview. Some people are having a go at her yes, but largely people have simply said that her prospects of pupillage are not good.

Sincerely doubt you have been on a “bar scholarships committee”.



Inner Temple interview every applicant, and they award around 100 scholarships and exhibition awards. Inn awards are easier to obtain than pupillage. Her prospects of a career at the Bar are not great, but I wish her the best. She is clearly determined.



I’ve never met a BPTC student who wasn’t determined.






“an anonymous donor” gave her £12,500…. yeah I think not. She gave up and got a bank loan.



If someone wants to utilise their money this way, fair enough. It’s their money.

But this just opens the floodgates for everyone who’s not good enough for a scholarship to go and beg the internet for money.



And? People don’t have to donate if they don’t want to.



I’m sooo fed up too!


Good luck

getting pupillage.


unpopular opinion puffin

Damn right! Everyone knows that one must “bag” a pupillage.



Everyone is fed up with it mate. But there isn’t really an alternative.



Beachy Head.



Maybe we should all quit the law, buy a goat, move to a Greek fishing port and live a peaceful life selling sea shells to German tourists.



How strange that the ‘anonymous donor’ does not appear on the list of donors of the crowdfunding page.

Agree that unless there’s a fundamental attitude shift then she has zero chance of pupillage – but not every barrister practises at the independent bar. I can see Leila fitting in nicely at a Citizens’ Advice Bureau / Law Centre. Otherwise, in a northern local authority legal department.



As she’s now on record as saying some terrible things about the profession, I wish her the best of luck but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were her



But you can’t practise as a barrister at all if you don’t get pupillage, in-house or otherwise. So the BPTC is useless, except to impress friends who don’t realise that it means nothing.



You can be an in-house legal advisor though. I know loads of people who did this after bar school when pupillages failed to materialise.



Stamp duty?



If she has any sense, she’ll give up on the barrister idea and just spend the money on an awesome holiday or something.


Lottery ticket holder

Been rejected for pupillage three years running now, despite having all the right credentials. I’m definitely fed up.



Define right credentials? Not to kick a man when he’s down…



First class law degree, Masters in Law, Inn Exhibition scholar, relevant mini pupillages, finalist in two prestigious moots, one international, VC on the BPTC, relevant work experience, and a published article in an international journal. I just suck at interviews, clearly.



First class from Uni of Hertfordshire? Masters from Open?



First from Kent, Masters from UCL. Not stellar but hardly rubbish, either.


What sort of chambers are you applying to? Do you frequently get interviews?

Assuming no distinction from UCL I would put your prospects as “in with a shot” subject to your interview skills. Have you tried practice interviews or asked a barrister for honest feedback on your interview technique?

– Barrister on pupillage committee


I’ve mostly been applying to crime sets, some of which have a public practice too. I’ve had seven interviews this year, but only one second round. I have an eighth interview to come.

I’ve chased my Inn for a mock interview, but they’ve been useless. I have a few practitioner friends who, if asked, may be able to set aside some time to mock interview me.


Are you only applying in London? It’s worth trying the regions. It took me a few years too – I took pupillage in a regional set, got work way above the level I would have got in London (less competition) for a few years and then returned to London with really solid experience and much less debt that my friends. Now I have a good London criminal practice.


Congrats but it will be the undergrad that’s hurting you. Chambers don’t care about masters really except maybe the BCL – for example, commercial chambers in particular look for a first from a top uni, preferably Oxbridge, crime will be more forgiving but typically they want a RG grad


So the institution a person attends at the age of 18 imposes a ceiling over them for life, irrespective of what that person goes on to achieve?

Pupillage Committee Member

Actually most chambers, mine included, have a university-blind policy. This person would get a point extra for a first, so he would get one point more than someone with an Oxford 69%. I personally don’t agree with this, but it is how most chambers do things these days. Once an applicant makes it through to interview his CV is effectively put aside and it is all about the interview.

This doesn’t stop there being a strong correlation between uni quality and pupillage – because on average, smarter people go to Oxbridge than go to Kent (plus, smart people who are bad at interviews don’t get into Oxbridge – smart people who are good at interviews do).

I’m sorry your Inn has been rubbish. You definitely should get your practitioner friends to interview you. It sounds like your CV is not the problem (though given your mooting success you really may simply have been unlucky). Fingers crossed for you. Good luck!


She has in essence publicly stated that all barristers that have ever gone before her got there through privilege. Difficult viewpoint to defend at an interview.


Lottery ticket holder aka skaterava you need to get this chip on your shoulder sorted out. 47 rejections in three years is tough . . . but you’re not helping yourself. Either sort it out or hide it better.



Do you feel like a big man now?



Not a man, so . . . no.



Irrespective of your sex, you didn’t need to out me in some attempt to shut me up.


Not trying to shut you up – have no interest in doing that because frankly your mouth doesn’t impact me in any way. Trying to perhaps help you even ? The bar (as you will know) is a small profession and your clear (even justified) frustration is not helping your cause. You need to be careful about what you are saying online because anyone can read it. Information can be traced very easily and it may or may harm you. It’s not worth the risk?


Cucks gonna cuck!






So you get what you want if you act like a petulant self-entitled snowflake and beg on the internet? That doesn’t seem like a good lesson, though I guess the silver lining is that it is really unlikely she will get a pupillage so that BPTC will ultimately mean nothing



The majority of comments here do confirm what she has been saying on that programme.



You know, a lot of the comments about her pupillage prospects are brutal but accurate. This, however, is gratuitously mean and nasty. It’s sounds like you’re actually HOPING she won’t get pupillage. Try and spread a little kindness.



This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.



Well, good luck getting pupillage in a sea of 1st class Oxbridge graduates who have been awarded scholarships for the BPTC and undergraduate and postgraduate studies and haven’t already offended the very people they want to impress so that they offer them a job!

If the Inn thinks you’re not good enough to get a scholarship, they are probably right!



I appreciate how crushing it must be to be denied your future like this, but we all accept it is a highly competitive profession when we try and enter.
Considering she is trying to enter the profession based on skill, and recieve financial assistance on merit (like we all are), to then get everything virtually by luck seems counter-intuitive to the whole essence of her ‘working my way up’ initative.
I think there’s very little “achievement” in happening upon a stranger willing to hand out cash as opposed to penny-pinching, being awarded a scholarship or even being adult enough to assess the viability of a loan (or not entering the profession at all).
Perhaps I’m a snowflake too, but I’m real f*cked off.



She should accept it with good grace, however she can no longer claim not to be one of the privileged, someone gave her £12,500 for nothing FFS.

How will she cope without her (in her opinion anyway) USP?


Tim NicebutDim

I thought her whole angle that she was from a difficult background and she had made something of herself by not taking handouts etc etc – looks like principles go out the window when a big juicy carrot is dangled in front of the donkey..



The donkey being a poor naïve girl of limited intelligence, and the dangler being a wealthy old gentleman seeking girl with aforementioned character traits.



I feel Leila’s sales pitch is so misleading, just reading the comments on her crowdfunding page make me cringe. The people who have donated honestly think she is the first working class woman to do the bar course. The worse part is, she has obviously failed to take on-board any advice given to her from practising barristers who have said not to do the bar course.

For God Sake Leila, use your time and money pursuing other interests to get you the experience and insight into the profession that you so clearly need. The bar course will add nothing to your CV and the mere fact that you failed to get a scholarship exemplifies that you are not good enough at this moment in time, or your competition is far better than you.

I genuinely worry that you are so naive to continue to do the BPTC. Have some foresight and awareness – both skills you will definitely need as a barrister!


Get Practical Experience

I echo the second paragraph. Leila, don’t do it. Do something else and then come back when you’re in a better position to compete and secure Pupillage (otherwise the BPTC is a waste of time and money, and I cannot be anymore blunt about this). The Bar will not be going anywhere, it does not have to be now.


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