With increasing numbers of applicants for pupillage each year, many prospective applicants are understandably anxious about how they are going to finance their studies for entry into the profession. However, there are a number of options to assist Bar hopefuls with their studies for postgraduate Bar training.

The Inns of Court remain the biggest funders for prospective barristers, distributing over £6 million of funding between them each year. They mainly provide funding for the vocational component, but there is also funding available for the conversion course (eg the GDL), support during pupillage, support for disabled students, and other prizes and grants. You must be a member of the Inn from which you receive your funding, and you can only apply to one Inn’s scholarship fund, so you should browse each of the Inn’s websites carefully to ensure that you find the Inn that best suits your needs. Remember that applications for Inns’ scholarships close on the first Friday of November of each year, so you should give yourself plenty of time to prepare – many students only become aware of the funding deadline after it has passed, so it is important to consider your options in good time, particularly if you are starting your course outside of the standard academic year.

There are also a number of other sources of funding, including:

  • The institutions where you might be studying (again, you should do plenty of research to ensure you are aware of the opportunities in institutions relevant to you).
  • The Kalisher Trust, which covers the vocational component course fees for two aspiring barristers each year, as well as other smaller bursaries and awards (aimed at talented students who may not otherwise be able to pursue a career at the criminal Bar).
  • The Guru Nanak Social Mobility Scholarships, a joint project between Mukhtiar Singh, an ‘I Am The Bar’ Social Mobility Advocate, and the Sikh Education Council.
  • If you have obtained pupillage, some chambers will allow you to receive part of your pupillage award in advance to assist with financing your vocational component. This is known as a draw-down.
  • The Bar Council’s Law Reform Essay Competition – which usually closes in the September of each year – offers prizes of up to £4,000 to winners and runners-up, which may assist you during your studies. The competition is open to those studying for their law degree or conversion course, to those studying for or a recent graduate of the vocational component, and to pupils.

There are also loans available for many students. Some high street banks may offer graduate loans, and the government offers a Postgraduate Master’s Loan for those studying the LLM combined with the vocational component (for students based in England only). This loan may not cover all your study and living costs, but it may provide additional financial support if required. Similar loans and bursaries may be available from the Welsh government as well. You should be aware that applying for a loan means that you will have additional debt when you qualify. It is worth exploring the other funding options (eg the Inns), and you may want to speak to a financial adviser where relevant.

Funding is often the biggest concern when we speak to students, as it can make qualifying as a barrister feel unattainable. You should be reassured that there are several funding options available once you start looking. For further information, please see the Bar Council website or contact: Careers@BarCouncil.org.uk