Access to the Bar Awards

The purpose of these awards is to encourage able students from disadvantaged and/or underrepresented backgrounds with the potential to be successful barristers to make a more informed choice about a career at the Bar. 

The award winners will gain experience of what a career at the Bar involves. They will get to know practitioners and judges and have the opportunity to ask for informal advice and feedback as to their suitability and how to set about becoming a barrister etc.

This initiative is in line with public policy that there should be greater diversity at the Bar.

Feedback has been extremely positive: students have commented on how friendly and welcoming they found both the Bar and the judiciary, and chambers have indicated how keen and diligent they found the students.  Click here to see a brief report from one of our 2015 award winners.

How the Scheme has Developed

The scheme was set up in 2010, with the first placements in 2011.  Click here to see the article in the Middle Temple magazine explaining the thinking behind the scheme.  In 2015 five new places specifically for commercial law were introduced when the Commercial Bar Association joined forces with the Inn.  Most recently, the late Master Jeremy McMullen established the Jeremy McMullen Memorial Fund which will support an additional ten places (details below).  Donations to this fund can still be made on the JustGiving page by clicking here.

The Awards

Awards provide two funded weeks (£250 per week) of work experience during university summer holidays:

  • one week’s work experience in a set of barristers’ chambers
  • one week’s marshalling, i.e. sitting in court alongside a judge

We currently have up to 23 placements available.  These are as follows;

  • Michael Sherrard Access to the Bar Awards – eight places are generously funded by members of the Middle Temple.  They are named after the late Michael Sherrard QC, a Bencher of Middle Temple, who not only set up the Inn’s advocacy training scheme but was also a passionate advocate for supporting the brightest and best.
  • COMBAR Access to the Bar Awards – five places are funded by COMBAR (the Commercial Bar Association) who will also arrange placements specifically for those interested in seeing commercial work.
  • Jeremy McMullen Access to the Bar Awards – ten places have been set up by the late Jeremy McMullen, a Middle Temple Bencher, to encourage and enable female students from disadvantaged and/or underrepresented backgrounds to make an informed decision about a career at the Bar.  Jeremy was passionate about increasing diversity at the Bar, and the fact that he spent his last weeks setting up these Awards is testament to his big heart and commitment to social mobility. 
     

Eligibility

The scheme is open to undergraduates who;

  • are in the second, third or fourth year of a qualifying law degree, or taking the Graduate Diploma in Law or an equivalent conversion course
  • have little or no family history of higher or professional education
  • completed secondary education in a state school. (In exceptional circumstances, students who attended secondary education in a fee-paying school may be considered)
     

The Application Process

Applications are accepted in the first term of the academic year through the individual law schools.  The deadline for applications for the 2016 awards is Monday 7th December 2015.  Each university that participates in the scheme will carry out the initial shortlisting and will submit selected applications to the Middle Temple.
 

Interviews

Further shortlisting will be carried out by Middle Temple and successful applicants will be invited for interview.

Interviews will be conducted by practising members of the Inn during the Hilary Term.

The Inn is prepared to reimburse reasonable travel expenses for candidates travelling from outside the M25 to attend the interview, up to a maximum of £65 per candidate.  Please click here for further information.

Contact

Students should contact the relevant member of staff at their institution for more information.  If your university does not have a contact, or you can't find out who it is, please email Sally Yorke on s.yorke@middletemple.org.uk 

University law schools wishing to participate in the scheme and chambers/judges who would like to provide placement opportunities, please contact Sally Yorke on s.yorke@middletemple.org.uk