As membership to an Inn of Court is for life, deciding which Inn to join is an important decision for any aspiring barrister. The choice of which Inn to join also poses certain time pressures, as you must join before you start the BPTC. You have to apply before the 31st of May during the year you will undertake the course.
As you will undoubtedly encounter while attending mini-pupillages and other Bar-centred events – many barristers have a clear bias towards the inn they trained at. Most cite that it was like a second home to them, and many volunteer their free time towards improving their society by being active participants in their community.
Consider the opinions of current members so that you can gain a more in-hand idea of the Inn of Court; all Inns are very similar bar their more personal traits and the feedback of current members will give you an insight into this aspect of the Inn.
Another factor to consider when deciding which Inn to join is size. The Inns have a large scope of sizes – from Gray’s Inn, the smallest Inn, with only 300 students joining each year, to Lincoln’s Inn, the largest Inn, which sees 1000 new admissions each year.
Size can give students a bit of an insight into the Inns personality and the experience each Inn may offer. A smaller Inn may provide a more intimate environment, allowing students to build more meaningful connections, whereas a larger Inn with more members may offer its student members a better opportunity to diversify their network.
One of the main roles the four Inns of Court play in the Bar community is supporting the social and professional networking of barristers and your membership to an Inn of Court is your ticket to develop your network.
While the Inns of Court have no designated practice areas, it important to take a look at some of the alumni and current members that you may come into contact with at various events to see whether the cohort offers the opportunity to develop your insight and practice.
Each Inn approaches their scholarship applications slightly differently and if you are choosing an Inn in order to apply for their prestigious Bar course or GDL scholarships, choosing an Inn whose application process suits you may support your success.
Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn only interview a select number of candidates and heavily rely on academic performance t determine who advances to the interview stage whereas Middle Temple and Inner Temple, while also taking a deep consideration for academic performance, interview all applicants.
This means, for instance, if your academics do not stand out as much on paper applying to either Middle or Inner Temple may support your application’s success. However, if your academics are strong and you haven’t had much interview experience, applying to Gray’s or Lincoln’s Inn could ensure you have fewer candidates to compete against in the interview stage.
While all four Inns have large scholarship pots, with 2022 seeing a combined award fund of £5.6 million, the individual Inn’s fund pots and distributions differ. While all of the Inns of Court use means testing in finalising their award offers, it’s important to bear in mind what funding support you need for your course and take a look at each Inn’s practice – for example, Gray’s Inn have a smaller funding pot but tend to offer more funding per head, making their contributions more beneficial for those who need greater funding support.
Please note that scholarship values and availability may change year to year, and deadlines for applications may vary. It’s always best to check with the individual Inns for the most up-to-date information
Remember, choosing an Inn of Court is a highly subjective decision that depends on your personal experiences and preferences. You can attend events and tours, undertake mini-pupillages, and talk to barristers and academics to gain a better understanding of each Inn’s facilities and opportunities. The guides available at each Inn can also help you make a decision.
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