Qualifying sessions at the UK Inns of Court

May 20, 2023

Joining an Inn of Court is compulsory if you want to become a barrister in England, and there has always been a requirement for Bar Course [BPC/BPTC/BVC/BTC] students to complete a number of sessions as part of their membership of an Inn before they can be called to the bar; these are known as “qualifying sessions (QS).” The Inns are the ones who “Call you to the bar” and you must be a member to get “called”, therefore even if your intention is to practice outside of the jurisdiction, you will likely want to get called here and need to complete the QSs.

Qualifying sessions take place alongside a student’s vocational training, and provides opportunities for professional and ethical training and development, as well as enhance a student’s academic and vocational experience. It also creates a wide range of opportunities for students to further develop their understanding of the role of barristers in the wider justice system and the rule of law. 

As such, from 2020, students must complete 10 qualifying sessions, attending a minimum of one session under each of the following themes: ethics, standards and values; advocacy skills; legal knowledge, justice and the rule of law; quality, diversity and inclusion; and preparation for pupillage, career development and wellbeing.

What to expect: Varies between Inns, but could expect lectures, panel discussion, or conversations between specialists in a particular area of law; workshops and mock trials; moots and residential weekends; advocacy courses; or even dinners that are focussed on discussions of particular areas of law. Every qualifying sessions include an identifiable educational element, they are not just dinners (which they traditionally were). 

When to attend: There are multiple qualifying sessions across every term, so it is best to book early for certain sessions (see the Inns’ webpages for their respective minimum notice if you wish to cancel and get a refund). Most Inns release their list of qualifying sessions early enough, so you can book them in early! The residential weekends are usually very quickly booked and you shoul get on the wakiting list if your Inn has that option.

Cost: Can range depending on what kind of session you attend, with some being free, and others such as residential weekends (where most Inns will help with travel expenses for the more expensive residential weekends) and dinners incurring a larger cost. Scholarships and additional support funds can help to cover the cost of qualifying sessions.

Dress code:  Unless otherwise stated in the event information, the dress code for all qualifying sessions is what you would be permitted to wear in court (meaning a dark suit, shirt and dark tie, blouse or formal top, and dark smart shoes). When gowns are required for a qualifying sessions, they will most likely be made available by the Inns. For any online sessions, the dress code is smart casual unless stated otherwise. 

And lastly, make an attempt to participate in a a range of sessions to enhance your skills, especially advocacy sessions! Qualifying sessions are an integral part of your journey to become a barrister, so make the most of it!

To find more information about qualifying sessions and how to book these sessions, check out the links below.

Lincoln’s Inn Qualifying Sessions

Inner Temple Qualifying Sessions

Middle Temple Qualifying Sessions

Gray’s Inn Qualifying Sessions

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