What/Who are the Inns of Court?
The four Inns are: Middle Temple, Gray’s Inn, Inner Temple and Lincoln’s Inn. The Inns are professional associations for barristers which oversee several aspects of becoming a barrister. Most notable they are responsible for the “Call to the bar” for barristers. They provide support for your professional development and promote a collegiate environment within the profession.
You will need to apply to one of the four Inns of Courts for membership as a student member before commencing the vocational component of your training, i.e. the Bar Professional Course (previously the BPTC). Membership of an Inn is compulsory for barristers.
The Inns will provide support and resources for prospective barristers, and choosing which Inn to become a member of can be a difficult choice for some students. You must apply for membership from a single Inn, and each Inn provides information online to help you make your decision. There are often opportunities to take a tour at the Inns. Usually, arrangements for tours can be made with the Inns’ education departments.
After making your choice, there is usually a membership fee around £100 and upon registration, students will receive a membership card.
The Inns of Court offer a range of scholarships to help you fund your training, i.e. for the bar course and there are also pupillage scholarsips available. You do not have to be a member of an Inn to begin a scholarship application to fund your bar course. However, if you are successful at obtaining a scholarship from the Inn of your choice, your scholarship award will be subject to your membership at that Inn. You can only apply to one Inn for a scholarship, we have provided more information on the Inns scholarship process, Inns of Courts Scholarships.
The CEO of Alignthebar, Neive Augustin secured a Gray’s Inn Bar Course scholarship and shares insight into the process, you can watch on our YouTube channel or listen on The Future Barrister Podcast (also available on Spotify).
Recently the Inns also established a hardship fund in response to the difficulties experienced by their members because of the covid-19 pandemic.
Once you become a member of an Inn and have commenced the bar course, you will also need to complete 10 “Qualifying Sessions” (QS) before you can get “Called to the bar”. Qualifying sessions are opportunities for professional development and will include lectures, dinners and even weekends at Cumberland Lodge. Students are given a degree of choice to book sessions, and are required to pay a fee for most qualifying sessions. The fee will vary depending on the nature of the session.
Qualifying sessions will cover areas including:
- ethics, standards and values
- advocacy skills
- legal knowledge, justice and the rule of law
- equality, diversity and inclusion
- preparation for pupillage, career development and wellbeing
Membership at an Inn and completing Qualifying sessions are a great way for students to network with senior practitioners and other colleagues on the course. There are a variety of mentoring schemes available through the Inns such as Court marshalling. The Inns offer support to students throughout the bar course, during pupillage and then in practice.
You can visit the Inns of Court’s respective websites for more information.