All aspiring barristers are required to join an Inn of Court to be called to the bar. The four Inns are Gray’s Inn, Inner Temple, Lincoln’s Inn and Middle Temple. The importance of the relationship you have with your Inn cannot be understated, particularly in the hunt for pupillage.
At the very least, you must attend qualifying sessions which are organised through your Inn throughout your BPTC to be called to the bar. Many students will not have any contact with their Inn beyond this. If you want to maximise your chances of securing pupillage, you must engage in the services your Inn provides beyond the qualifying sessions.
Which Inn do you join? There is no right answer here, but what is important is to visit as many as you can to see where would be a good fit. The Inns, broadly speaking, offer the same services to aspiring barristers. The important thing is to choose an Inn where you feel you will fit in, and build a relationship with the staff of the Inn. It will pay dividends.
A key, perhaps most obvious, benefit of the Inns is the scholarships they provide. Not only do they offer scholarships for the BPTC, but they can also offer financial support during pupillage. This can be invaluable if you secure a Criminal pupillage in London (as I did) and require some additional support.
During your BPTC, you may represent the interests of your Inn within your cohort as their student representative. You will have the opportunity to assist in organising qualifying sessions with the support of your Inn. These events will commonly involve practising barristers, so can provide superb networking opportunities.
Each Inn offers advocacy weekends throughout the BPTC, which are frequently oversubscribed. Barristers offer their time to develop students’ advocacy skills. The weekends are hard work, but incredibly rewarding. Again, it is an opportunity to build professional relationships with practising barristers, who can offer their advice in the search for pupillage.
Another excellent resource is the mentorship/sponsorship scheme offered by the Inns, where you are paired with a barrister during the BPTC. This relationship can work very well, and lead to new opportunities which you may not otherwise be aware of. Remember, you will be paired with a busy practitioner, so you need to make the effort to make this relationship a success.
Keep an eye on your emails as you progress, as there are regularly events at each Inn. You can participate in moots and debating competitions, as well as attend lectures.
The Inn will continue to support you beyond the BPTC, even if you have not secured pupillage. For example, Lincoln’s Inn offers support through the Pupillage Foundation Scheme which offers tailored support to individuals.
Your professional development does not stop when you become a barrister. When you are in practice, your Inn will continue to offer the resources you require.
If you want to be a barrister, you need to be prepared to maintain professional commitments outside your working hours. To be regularly involved in the life of your Inn will get you into the habit of professional networking from an early stage.
In short, you should seize every opportunity provided by your Inn, in the hunt for pupillage and beyond. I have developed a very good relationship with my Inn, and would attribute much of my success to the opportunities they have provided.