The Middle Temple has always prided itself on its commitment to encouraging the most talented students, regardless of background. We were the first Inn to make the decision (now common practice amongst the Inns) that all candidates for scholarships should receive an interview and that financial need would be an important factor in setting the level of award.
The Middle Temple has developed a reputation for being open and welcoming to all talented people. It is a matter of pride for us that over the last 20 years, the recipients of what has been until recently our most prestigious major award, the Queen Mother Scholarship (created in honour of the late Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother, our Royal Bencher at the time) have come from many different classes, ethnic and age groups. It is also important that we have managed to do so without making those who come from the more traditional or privileged backgrounds feel unwelcome or disadvantaged.
It is the Inn’s policy to interview every applicant who has obtained a place on the course (or has an application pending at the time of interview): potential as an advocate is not always recognisable from a written application and we feel strongly that all applicants should be given an opportunity to argue their case.
Interviews take 15 minutes each and are conducted by panels consisting of three senior members of the Inn. Panels will assess each applicant on the basis of four criteria:
- Intellectual ability
- Motivation to succeed at the Bar
- Potential as an advocate
- Personal qualities
In awarding any of the scholarships, panels will first of all decide whether a candidate merits a scholarship according to those criteria. They will then decide which of the available scholarships that candidate should be awarded. The Queen's Scholarship is now the most prestigious ‘label’, awarded to the single best candidate who showed the most exceptional promise. The Queen Mother Scholarship is considered next in line in terms of standing: it is awarded only to the most all-round impressive candidates; others may be awarded according to particular academic provenances or interest in a particular area of law.
Once panels have reached a decision on the scholarships per se, they will then decide on the size of the individual awards (which are not published). These will depend on individual financial circumstances, and while it is not possible to cover scholars’ full expenses for the time in which they are undertaking the BPTC, every effort is made to ensure that those with the greatest need receive the largest (though not necessarily the most prestigious) awards.