How to get people to give you money to become a lawyer
Millions of pounds worth of scholarships every year are offered by the Inns of Court and, increasingly, law schools. Getting a portion of the cash isn’t as hard as students often imagine.
Last week some more law scholarships came into being, with the University of Law (ULaw) ‘Alumni Scholarship’ offering three law students the chance to get their course fees paid in full next year. Expect further giveaways as ULaw delves deeper into the £2million it has earmarked for good causes.
Of course, the Inns of Court have been doing this sort of thing for years on a grand scale, with a combined £5 million paid out to wannabe barristers each year. The money is apportioned pretty evenly between the Inns, explains Inner Temple outreach manager Anthony Dursi, although only two Inns (Inner and Middle Temple) interview all applicants.
Alex Pritchard-Jones and Stephen Lue (pictured below with Dursi, in order from left to right) both benefitted from chunky awards from Middle Temple to fund their studies, with current BPTC student Pritchard-Jones managing to stay debt free after bagging an additional scholarship from his law school, Kaplan.
“I got a Middle Temple scholarship which was not quite enough to cover the full fees so I deferred it and applied again for a Kaplan scholarship, which I got. I used that year to work and save money, and also to get a qualification as a police station rep so I can earn money doing that…It’s quite precarious, but I’m not in debt at the moment,” he says.
But as crucial as the money is, scholarships are about more than the financial. Lue emphasises how much his award boosted his self-esteem and helped him to keep applying for pupillages after a long string of rejections.
“If I hadn’t had a major scholarship, an endorsement from Middle, I would not necessarily have gone on for four years applying for pupillage. It gives you confidence and something to put on your CV,” he says.
This tale isn’t atypical, explains Dursi, with 60-90% of students who secure an Inner Temple scholarship going on to bag a pupillage. He adds: “If you gain a scholarship you have a very good shot.”
Where does this leave prospective solicitors, though? OK, so those who join large corporate firms often receive funding to cover their law school costs, but those who wish to pursue careers in legal aid get no such help.
ULaw scholarships chief Julian Kent is hopeful that law schools can step in to help to fill this gap over the next few years, through a combination of full and partial scholarships. Alongside the new alumni scholarships, ULaw also offers over 50 £5,000 postgraduate awards, while the other main law schools also offer a wide range of scholarships.
“We will continue to look at ways that we can support all students wishing to pursue careers in all areas of legal practice, which includes those keen to go down the legal aid route. It is in everyone’s interest to put funding where we feel it’s most needed,” he says.
Kent adds that the Legal Education Foundation — the charitable entity formed in the wake of the College of Law’s metamorphosis into ULaw — will also be looking to help in this area.
Getting their hands on scholarship money requires students to be informed and organised, with surprising numbers missing out because they are unaware of not just application deadlines, but the existence of scholarships altogether. The key deadlines for Inns of Court cash are, for GDL scholarships, the first Friday in May, and for BPTC scholarships, the first Friday in November. Law school scholarship deadlines vary, with the ULaw application deadline this year on 30 June.
Listen to Pritchard-Jones, Lue, Dursi and Kent’s discussion in full with Legal Cheek editor Alex Aldridge in the podcast below.
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