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Inns of Court Scholarships 2017

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Why bother with a post grad course - waste of time? 17-10-2016
    • Thread Starter

    Hey guys, this is a thread to discuss 2017 scholarship applications. I would be grateful for any advice anybody may have in relation to this.


    Applications are mainly down to your own writing style and the amount of experience you have. You should try not to make it sound like a CV i.e., robotic and boring. Add a little bit of flair to your writing instead, especially in the sections where they ask you the big, generic questions like 'why do you want to be a barrister'.

    To note: Middle and Inner interview everyone, which is great if you have less legal work experience, mooting and the like under your belt.

    Also, Middle ask the following: 'what question would you most like us to ask you at interview?' I spent so long trying to find the perfect answer! Mine was law related, but was also to do with the regulation of one of my favourite sports, so it allowed me to bring in legal knowledge and personal experience at once. Giving yourself as much breadth as possible is key.

    This is the sort of question you should be putting the most amount of effort into as it's designed to allow you to show off a little in interview as you can effectively prepare an ideal answer and research the topic.

    I'd also recommend getting someone to proof read your application and choosing your references carefully.

    - R.

    (Original post by planet_sophie)
    Hey guys, this is a thread to discuss 2017 scholarship applications. I would be grateful for any advice anybody may have in relation to this. Sophie
    I woke up this morning remembering that I had never responded to this thread as promised. Weird.

    P.S. What follows is a very long-winded account of the scholarship application process, from choosing an Inn to accepting the award. I accept no responsibility for any ennui or malaise caused by reading on.

    I applied for and got a (big) scholarship/exhibition/award at Inner. They are means-tested (at least partially) so that was the reason it was large, not because I was any good. But I like to think I reached a certain standard in order to be offered it.

    I applied to Inner because of aforementioned means-testing, also because they interview everybody and I like to think I do well at interviews. I also like the tradition etc. of the temple area and having a nice garden on the Thames, but whatever. I was very impressed with the support offered by the education department on a visit day. They were also the first inn to call a woman barrister and are committed to promoting equality and diversity, so that could be another good reason to apply.

    Inner requires three referees (the others only two?) but gives you longer to get the references to them (they must be sent direct). In reality, if the references aren't received in November, they let you know by email around the start of February and you have a week to get them in. I'm sure the deadline for the form is applied strictly though, so don't be caught out.

    The form doesn't appear to be hugely significant, given that they interview everybody. On reflection, at my interview, having now attacked millions of pupillage forms, I thought my form was quite weak. I do have plenty on my CV though, minis, work exp, marshalling, legal advice clinic, mooting, but it was just badly presented - didn't cost me in the end luckily - so don't stress too much about the form(?)

    The interviews took place on two consecutive Saturdays at the start of March. The team were amenable to requests for one day or the other, and tried to put candidates travelling from outside London later on in the day. A particular highlight of the process were these sentences in an email:
    You are receiving this email as we have noted that you have confirmed your attendance at your March BPTC scholarship interview. Please don’t confirm you’ve received this confirmation of your confirmation of interview as at a certain point the word confirmation is simply used too many times in one sentence.
    It shows that you're dealing with real humans, I guess, which is comforting.

    The interview lasted about 45 minutes in total. I arrived probably 15 minutes early (not including about 40 minutes sat in Starbucks up the road) so the whole hugely-anticipated process lasted about an hour and was totally pain-free. When you arrive, you wait some more (in the sun - yay) and 30 minutes before your interview 12ish of you are taken through to the library where you choose a recent unpublished case to read for 30 minutes. You have a choice of crime, family or civil. I chose crime, as I had studied that most recently. I had been studying French law at this time which gives very short judgments (1-2 pages!) so I had slightly forgotten that a whole judgment is actually quite a big thing to read thoroughly, take notes on, and prepare stuff to talk about in 30 minutes. It was an appeal against conviction, there were two grounds and one of them had been omitted in any case, so it wasn't even a entire judgment.

    The questions (which were provided at the outset) were: What was the case about? What was the key legal question? What were the parties' arguments? What was the Court's decision and what were its reasons? This are fairly standard questions for structuring a case commentary (again, French law does a lot of these, so I was prepared - less common in the UK). It's important to really focus on the questions and not the case more generally - be concise but precise.

    After 30 minutes you are taken to sit outside an interview room and wait to be called in. I continued to have a look through the case, refining my notes and thinking about exactly what I was going to say - other people seemed not to be doing this - odd. There were four very friendly barristers in the interview room - one looked fairly young - she only asked a couple of questions about the financial statement at the end, the other three were older, one was a QC. They took charge of one section of the interview each.

    First section was the case commentary. They asked me to just go for it, so I said what I had prepared about the first question. I got the impression I could have carried on straight away with all the questions in turn, but I actually sort of paused in between each chunk and the barrister posed the next question each time, as if I didn't know what the question was going to be, so it felt slightly rehearsed, like we were reciting lines from a play or something which was good in a way. I think the case commentary is the most important part of the process, I think I did well and that's why I have a scholarship - the rest of the interview I thought I could have done better.

    Then I was asked to pick a book or a film and persuade the panel, in one minute exactly, to read/watch it, after about 10 seconds preparation time. I really struggled to choose a book/film and spent about 9.5 seconds choosing one and 1.5 seconds thinking about what to say. Then I treated the exercise sort of like 'just a minute' trying to talk almost constantly and neglecting to think very much. Definitely could have been better.

    The next section was CV questions. What was the most valuable experience of such-and-such mini, what exactly did you do on the legal advice clinic, which area of law do you want to go into, things like that. I had prepared a list of about 30 questions that I thought could come up and rehearsed some of them with a friend who does recruitment for law firms which was handy.

    The remaining questions were a mixture. One was on legal reform - what would I reform if I could? I rattled off some real rubbish (I thought, afterwards) about sexual consent and rape shield legislation. Should have been more prepared for such an obvious question. I had focused preparation on current affairs, and none really came up. I can't remember any other questions from this section. Perhaps there weren't any others, except which practice area and legal reform.

    The whole interview lasted about 15 minutes, with the case commentary taking about 8 of those. At the end I was asked if any of my financial circumstances had changed and then whether there was anything I would like to add to my application. Even though nothing had changed, it's worth trying to sell yourself a little bit more in this last moment by pretending there's something to say.

    I was one of the last interviews on the second day and they told me they would be making decisions that afternoon. Then I waited about 3 weeks and finally heard just before the BPTC offer acceptance deadline, which was obviously helpful. I was surprised by the value of the scholarship (enough to pay London tuition fees with some change) but I think that is purely down to my family's financial background, so either you'll benefit from that, or you won't.

    In summary, therefore, the key factor in getting an Inner Temple scholarship appears to be your ability to read an appeal judgment for 30 minutes, understand and summarise the important bits, and comment intelligently on it in an interview, as well as answer some CV questions acceptably and cobble together a not-terrible application form. It also helps if you're poor. If you can satisfy these conditions, apply to Inner! Good luck.

    (Original post by mathsmusicfrench)
    be concise
    Ha, as if.

    Thought I'd share my experiences on here as well although so they might be a bit out of date as I got a scholarship from Inner temple to start my BPTC in 2015. (So don't hold me to any of the minute details!)

    By way of background I got a few thousand pounds and am now doing my BPTC part time so I could work at the same time. I chose Inner primarily because they interview every candidate (Middle does this too), and I had been to a dinner there and had friends who were members and only had good things to say about it. I also remember looking at the statistics for scholarships and (I think - check this for most recent years) Inner gave more scholarships, albeit at a lower value (I think middle gives the highest value ones but less of them). Inner is means tested but this is only once they have decided if you get the scholarship which is purely based on merit, some (I can't remember which) are purely based on merit I think. Personally my family and background is fairly good and I doubt I would have got a scholarship had it been based purely on means, however in interview I talked about how I had supported myself through university with 3 part time jobs and the fact that I had 3 siblings to support the means element so unless you are really well off there are things you can use to your advantage!

    For what its worth here are my tips:
    1. Look at the statistics and interview process and decide which Inn is the best for you. There are other forums on here and articles on the internet which can provide this information - a quick google search can do wonders.
    2. Find good references! I know (because they all sent them to me so I could send them to Inner all together) that my references spoke very highly of me and my ability to be a barrister. I have done some work experience at a solicitors so I got them to give me a glowing reference about how they would give me work were I to get a pupillage and I have no doubt this would have had a big impact. Don't be afraid to ask for a reference and talk to your references honestly about what you want them to say - not in a pushy way but an idea of what you are looking for is useful as most people (in my experience) hadn't encountered doings a reference for an inns scholarship before.
    3. I agree with MathsMusicFrench when I think back to my form it was probably actually quite poor but I did have experience to back this up and so I think that's what pulled me through. Showcase your experience and try to make it relevant.
    4. For Inner MathsMusicFrench has provided a very accurate account of the interview process. I really enjoyed talking about the case and I chose the family law topic as I thought it would be a bit different and I am interested in family law. Make sure you can have an opinion on whatever topic you pick, I remember my panel asking me about my opinion on the case and whether I thought the decision was right or wrong and why. Obviously there is no right answer but just repeating what has already been said in the case doesn't make you stand out. I had some current affairs questions in mine and I think I was asked "Tell us about a current news story". Then there are the standard why do you want to be a barrister questions - make sure you are prepared for these, they are basic and you should be prepared even if your answer isn't 100% polished yet.
    5. My biggest tip for the interview is don't get flustered! Easier said than done I know but everyone I spoke to who said they were very nervous in the interview and think they may have let those nerves show didn't get a scholarship.
    6. Most people I know also got asked the question "If you don't get the scholarship what will you do?". This is - sort of - a trick question! DO NOT say I wont do the BPTC. I know people who think this question is asking them to show how much they want the scholarship, but it is testing your commitment to the bar and becoming a barrister. Even if you wouldn't do it without a scholarship, don't tell them that! If possible have a back up plan to tell them, that's what I did involving doing a course outside of London and working and they seemed quite impressed by that.
    7. When answering questions try to give a structure ie I have 3 reasons for this which will be a b and c. Then deal with a b and c in order. This is a tad formulaic but makes it obvious what you are doing and helped keep me calm and my thoughts in order.

    Hope my ramblings will prove helpful and good luck!

    I agree entirely with LawMe's advice, in particular 5, 6 and 7. Hopefully some scholars from some other inns will be along to share more experiences with you.

    Hi all!

    Does anyone know about chances at re-applying to a given Inn for a scholarship? I was rejected by an Inn following an interview a few years back and I'm wondering whether it's worth reapplying to the same Inn?

    Hi, can anyone please provide some insight into their interview at either Lincoln's Inn for the BPTC scholarship? trying to decide where to apply.


    (Original post by T_S_B)
    Hi all!

    Does anyone know about chances at re-applying to a given Inn for a scholarship? I was rejected by an Inn following an interview a few years back and I'm wondering whether it's worth reapplying to the same Inn?
    I don't think there is an issue with that! Apparently then don't check whether you applied in a previous year or not.
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