Understood to be first of its kind
The Midland Circuit is to fund the vocational studies of one bar student with “strong” ties to the region, it has announced.
The £15,000 scholarship aims to cover the bar course fees for one wannabe barrister at a provider in the Midlands, namely BPP Birmingham, ULaw Birmingham or Nottingham Law School. It’s open to law student and non-law students on the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) looking to undertake the bar course either full or part-time.
Prospective applicants are asked to complete a series of competency-based questions and provide details of their personal background, their connection to the Midlands, and why they wish to practise as a barrister in the region.
The bar of England and Wales is divided into six regions, commonly known as ‘Circuits’. One of which is the Midland Circuit. Among other things, the Circuits provide support and training for barristers practising within the area. The Midland Circuit is understood to be the first to offer a scholarship of this kind. The Western Circuit offers financial support but to fund pupillages at chambers specialising in publicly funded work.
“The Midlands Circuit recognises that financial pressures can restrict deserving candidates from undertaking the bar course, limited loans are available and the courses are expensive”, the Circuit said, adding that it is particularly keen to welcome applications from black and minority ethnic candidates “as they are under represented at the bar”.
The scholarship will be awarded on merit and financial need. Applications close on 27 May, with the successful candidate due to be notified at the end of June.
Michelle Heeley QC, a criminal law silk at No5 Chambers and leader of the Midland Circuit, told Legal Cheek:
“We are looking for someone with a strong connection to the Midlands, and also from a non-traditional background, to give them the leg up that they need. We hope that we can at least remove one barrier to joining the bar!”
Another avenue open to bar hopefuls who may not otherwise be able to afford to undertake the vocational course is the Inns of Courts scholarships. Gray’s Inn, Inner Temple, Lincoln’s Inn and Middle Temple last year set aside £6 million in funding for bar students.
With the most expensive bar course coming in at £19,500, scholarships such as these offer a financial lifeline for many aspiring barristers.