Qualifying Sessions (QS) provide opportunities for professional and ethical development which compliments and builds on academic and vocational training. They also allow students to enhance their understanding of the role of barristers in the wider justice system and the rule of law. QS also offer opportunities to meet peers on the Bar Course and network with a variety of members of the Inn.
QS may include lectures, dinners, advocacy courses, moots and residential weekends, and will fall into one or more of the following five themes:
- Ethics, Standards and Values
- Advocacy Skills
- Legal Knowledge, Justice and the Rule of Law
- Equality, Diversity and Inclusion; and
- Preparation for Pupillage, Career Development and Wellbeing
Details of upcoming events will be published on the Inn Calendar.
The requirements for Qualifying Sessions changed as of September 2020 (details below).
The Inn subsidises the cost of student members’ tickets in order to keep the cost as low as possible.
Members are encouraged to continue to attend Qualifying Sessions throughout their career. It is also often possible to entertain guests.
Qualifying Session Requirements
From September 2020, students* and transferring lawyers* are required to:
- complete 10 Qualifying Sessions
- attend a minimum of one session under each of the five themes outlined above
- attend at least two sessions that are interactive and require preparation in advance
These sessions will be organised by the Inn in accordance with the Framework for the provision of Qualifying Sessions.
The compulsory ten QS must be attended during a period of no more than five years ending on the date on which the person is Called to the Bar.
It is your responsability to complete the requisite sessions. A summary of your current QS record can be accessed on your profile. Please note that it can take around 10 working days after an event for the QS point to be added to the system.
* transitional arrangements for students who commenced the vocational component of training for the Bar before 1 June 2020 and transferring lawyers who were approved by the BSB before 1 September 2020 are set out in the Joint Inns’ Education and Qualification Rules.
Types of Qualifying Sessions
The main types of QS are described below:
Round Table Discussions
The main aim of a Round Table QS is to facilitate informed discussion on a particular area of law. These sessions are not necessarily intended to be about substantive law per se and could focus on the practicalities and ethics involved in that area of law.
Each session will usually have up to 6 practitioners who are experts in their field. After an introduction in plenery, each practitioner will lead a breakout group of up to 10 students.
Students will be given material to prepare in advance of the session which will be the main focus of the discussion.
Sherrard Conversations will address legal issues often of wider relevance to society. A member of the Inn, in conversation with an expert in the field from outside the legal profession, will introduce the subject of the day. Their conversation will be followed by an opportunity for Q&A and informal discussion.
You will see practitioners run parts of a trial or hearing and then have the opportunity to ask questions on their case theory, tactics and advocacy.
One or more practitioners, most often members of Middle Temple, will discuss a particular area of law and/or legal issue. The talk will be followed by a Q&A.
A number of residential weekends are usually run each year, three at Cumberland Lodge and one in York. Attending one of these weekends will count as several QS points. Click here for more information on advocacy weekends.
How to be credited with a Qualifying Session
To be credited with a QS, you must;
- Arrive on time – latecomers* will not be awarded the QS. Please ensure that you allow sufficient time to check any coats/bags into the cloakroom and put on a gown (where applicable) before the event is due to start.
- Attend for the duration** - this might include a combination of a lecture/moot/speech plus a dinner or drinks reception plus networking. Details of timings for each QS are provided on the website.
- Hand in your ticket to the Front of House staff, who record attendance. The onus is on you to hand in your ticket and thus to make sure that your attendance goes on record.
Students who fail to attend a booked session without prior notice will be required to explain to themselves in writing to the Education Department.
Students who fail to attend or arrive late on more than one occasion are liable to be required to attend an interview with the Chair of the Conduct, Disciplinary and Regulatory Affairs Committee, or other senior member of the Inn, before they can be called to the Bar.
* If you arrive late, you may be allowed to attend the event (at the discretion of the Front of House or Events staff) however you will not be awarded the qualifying session.
** In exceptional circumstances, students living outside of London may seek permission to leave early providing they do not miss a substantial part of the event. You must contact the Education Department by email to request permission in advance. If permission is given, you should bring a printout of the email to show to the Front of House staff if requested.
Rules and Guidelines for attending Qualifying Sessions at the Inn
On request the Inn can cater for certain dietary requirements. Click here for more details on dietary requirements.
Events in Hall are formal occasions and all present should always be respectably dressed in appropriate clothes having regard to the nature of the occasion. Click here for more details on dress codes for Inn Events.
Rules and Customs
There are certain rules and customs that members and guests are expected to observe when attending formal Qualifying Sessions at the Inn. Click here for more details on dining rules and customs.
Notetaking during lectures
Students are permitted to bring laptops, iPads and other notetaking devices to QS but are advised that they do so at their own risk. Electronic devices larger than a smart phone should be stored in the cloakroom during dinner. Use of phones and other devices is not permitted during meals.
As the collegiate part of QS invariably involves a meal or other refreshments, those who observe Ramadan may want to try and avoid booking QS within that period. For those who do wish to attend a QS during Ramadan, click here for the options. Please note that you will have to stay until the end of the QS.
Out of London (OOL) Students
What is an "OOL student"
Students undertaking the Bar Course at a provider outside London (i.e. on Circuit) are classed as OOL students. If you study the Bar Course at a provider located in London, even if you live outside of London, you are not an OOL student. The OOL/London distinction only applies whilst you are studying the Bar Course.
QS on Circuit
Students may count up to 5 QS attended ‘on Circuit’ for the purposes of Call to the Bar. QS gained by attendance at Inn residential events are not classed as events ‘on Circuit’.
Free tickets for OOL students
We appreciate that students undertaking the Bar Course at a provider on Circuit will find it more difficult to attend Qualifying Sessions at the Inn. To alleviate the problem, tickets for most QS are available to OOL students free of charge.
The exceptions are the residential weekends at Cumberland Lodge and in York, which are heavily subsidised for all participating students, and a small number of events in Hall for which a small surcharge is made. Please note that once an OOL student has booked 10 QS (including events on Circuit) they will be charged the standard student rate.
If you do not attend an event that you have booked, this will still be counted as one of your complimentary sessions. However, if you provide sufficient notice before the event (2 clear working days) you can cancel your ticket to avoid the QS counting towards your free allowance.
Modifications and Waivers
Modifications and waivers will only be granted in exceptional circumstances and when supported by documentary evidence.
Normally consideration will only be given to modifying or waiving a maximum of two QS.
A modification will alter the requirements for successfully completing a QS that was attended by the applicant, for example:
- to disregard partial attendance or late arrival
- to treat within the time limit a QS that was completed outside the time limit (ordinarily QS must be completed within 5 years prior to the date of Call)
A waiver will remove the requirement to attend one or more QS. Applications will not normally be granted where there are further opportunities to attend QS.
Applying for a Modification or Waiver
Applications must be made using the form available to download from this page.
Completed forms should be submitted to Jonny Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org along with any supporting documents.
The Inn reserves the right to request further information in support of an application. Applicants may be required to attend the Inn to explain why they seek a modification or waiver.