How to fund your way through the BPTC
By bagging two scholarships and working part-time, University of Law graduate Sam Frost was able to keep costs down as he pursued his ambition to become a barrister
As undergraduate law students complete their degrees and look ahead to vocational education options — and find themselves terrified by the costs — Legal Cheek Careers met a barrister-hopeful, who managed to pay his way through the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
Legal Cheek Careers: When did you decide to take the barrister route over the solicitor path?
Sam Frost (pictured above): Having done a politics degree at the University of York, I kept an open mind as to either career choice in the first stages of training on the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at ULaw in Moorgate, central London. When I started a bit of mooting in the first term of the course I felt that advocacy would be something I wanted to do more of in my career. So I started to look more into what barristers do and I felt attracted by representing those who would not be able to put their case forward without help. Finally, getting my Middle Temple scholarship [worth £10,000] meant that I would be able to afford the fees for the BPTC so I finally decided that I would try to practise as a barrister.
LC Careers: How did you secure the Inns scholarship?
Frost: I put in an application in the first term of my GDL. The Inns’ BPTC scholarship application deadline is the first Friday of November each year. I was then invited to an interview; Middle and Inner Temple both interview all scholarship applicants. The interview itself took little more than 10 minutes, with general questions about which areas of law I was interested in and why I wanted to become a barrister. I was informed that I had been awarded the Harmsworth Scholarship in May.
LC Careers: Did you have prior advocacy experience at the time?
Frost: I trained as an actor at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts from 2002-2007. I performed in various shows put on by the school, the more well known being a play of Vanity Fair, the musical ‘The Boyfriend’ and a play of Alice in Wonderland. Acting has aided my advocacy by helping with delivery for effective presentation and giving me the confidence to present. That confidence helps overcome nerves so I can focus on making eloquent submissions.
LC Careers: Why did you decide to do the BPTC part-time?
Frost: Even with the scholarship, there was a considerable shortfall in terms of BPTC fees and living expenses. But doing the course part-time, alongside a job at a training consultancy where I worked as a bookkeeper and assistant sales person, meant that it was manageable. I received the scholarship in two instalments over the two years.
LC Careers: During this time you secured an additional £2,000 scholarship from ULaw. How did you get that?
Frost: I applied for the ULaw scholarship at the beginning of the second year of my BPTC. It was a three-stage process: application, recorded plea in mitigation (on behalf of Tess of the d’Urbervilles from the Thomas Hardy novel), and finally I had to do a further plea in mitigation in front of a barrister and part-time judge. This year the process has been changed slightly and involved a wider assessment day, which included group exercises alongside the advocacy sessions. Myself and some of the previous scholarship winners assisted with the assessment process. Of the 50 people who reached this stage, 12 got scholarships.
LC Careers: Other than the money, how have your scholarships helped you?
Frost: There is obviously the prestige you get from having scholarships on your CV. The Middle Temple scholarship is hopefully an endorsement of my potential to become a barrister, while the ULaw scholarship is a specific advocacy scholarship, which recognises advocacy ability. Everyone who is awarded that scholarship also serves on ULaw’s advocacy committee. Our main job was judging internal moots between GDL students, which you learn a lot from. Both scholarships have contributed to my securing a place to work as a solicitor agent at LPC Law, and they will hopefully also help as I make pupillage applications.
LC Careers: Any pearls of wisdom to share with wannabe barristers on the hunt for scholarships?
Frost: Pay attention to the assessment criteria. For example, this year for the ULaw scholarship we were looking for people who could work well in a team as well as be good advocates. So the students who demonstrated courtesy to others and didn’t dominate the discussion, while also proving themselves to be eloquent and persuasive speakers, did the best.
The University of Law offers around £400,000 of scholarships each year across its undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Read more about them here.
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