What are Qualifying Sessions?
Qualifying Sessions (QS) are events that provide opportunities for professional and ethical development which complement and build on the academic and vocational training for the Bar. Our programme of Qualifying Sessions aims to cover a wide range of interests, related to a broader understanding of the law and the way it operates in society. 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 to network with a variety of members of the Inn.
During the academic year 2022/23 topics included “Advocacy in the Magistrates Court”; “The Role of the Attorney General”; “Climate Change as a Human Rights challenge”; “ The Rule of Law”; “Public Law, Automation and Digital government”; in addition, of course, to more obvious topics such as advocacy training, legal research, and workshops on ethical issues. Throughout the year, there were panel sessions, such as "Straight from the Pupils Mouth"; "Areas of Law" and "Alternative Career Paths". This year was the start of the new "Tough Topics" series and the introduction of "Circuit Education Days" in Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Leeds.
The Inn subsidises the cost of student members’ tickets in order to keep the cost as low as possible.
Why is it beneficial to attend QS in person?
When the pandemic forced all QS to move online, the collegiate element was almost impossible to replicate over Zoom. The invaluable encounters which happen when a few people get chatting in the queue for coffee or over a meal were inevitably lost. Now that events in person (both at the Inn and on circuit) are possible we strongly encourage members to attend these and to meet as many people as possible.
Are QS just for student members?
No, many of the QS events are open to all members of the Inn. Indeed members are encouraged to continue to attend these events throughout their career. Many of the topics are of interest to post-Call members and we are working hard to create events which appeal to all members. It is also often possible to bring non-members as guests.
Please read the further details provided below.
If you have any questions on the provision of QS or any general feedback on QS, please contact the Education Department on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Qualifying Session Requirements
QS will be organised by the Inn in accordance with the Framework for the provision of Qualifying Sessions.
The educational component of QS 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
In order to meet the QS requirement for Call to the Bar, you must:
- be awarded at least 10 QS points
- attend a minimum of one session under each of the five themes outlined above *
- be awarded at least 2 QS points for event(s) that are interactive and require preparation in advance *
- be awarded at least 6 QS points for events that are held in person (as opposed to online) **
* 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.
** this DOES NOT apply to those members who have completed one or more QS prior to 1 September 2022. This is an internal Middle Temple requirement. If there are valid reasons why you cannot meet this requirement please submit an application for a waiver (see below).
The compulsory QS must be attended during a period of no more than five years before 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 Middle Temple profile. Please note that it can take around 10 working days after an event for the QS point to be added to the system.
Types of Qualifying Sessions
Some sessions will be held in person, some will be online lectures/webinars and a number will be available in both formats.
The main types of QS are described below:
Welcome Dinners and Introductory Sessions
All new Bar Course students are strongly encouraged to attend a Welcome Dinner and an Introductory Session (we usually schedule two of each).
The Welcome Dinners will provide an introduction to the Inn and the profession with talks from practitioners and previous students, followed by a dinner in Hall.
The Introductory Sessions include a programme of talks to further your understanding of the Inn and what is available to our student members.
One or more practitioners, usually members of Middle Temple, will discuss a particular area of law and/or legal issue. This is followed by a reception and opportunity to network and in some cases a formal dinner.
- Treasurer’s Lecture: A speaker, invited by the Master Treasurer, will deliver a talk on a legal issue or topic related to the Bar. This will be followed by a reception in Hall.
- Sherrard Conversation: Sherrard Conversations will address legal issues often of wider relevance to society. A member of the Inn, in conversation with an expert in a field from outside the legal profession, will talk about the subject of the day. Their conversation will be followed by an opportunity for Q&A and informal discussion.
- Tough Topics: The purpose of the “Tough Topics” sessions is to assist in training barristers, in particular students and pupils, to focus on issues and see them in an objective and balanced way without allowing personal views to play any part. Each session will focus on a highly controversial issue or topic. The session will be chaired by an experienced lawyer.
- Private Guest Night: There will be a talk from a member of the Inn or legal academic. This will be followed by a reception and a formal dinner in Hall. Members are allowed to bring guests.
- Reader’s Feast: This formal dinner in Hall is to celebrate the Master Reader’s time in office. Dinner is followed by a ‘reading’ (talk/lecture) by the Reader.
- Ordinary Dining: A lecture/talk followed by a formal dinner in Hall.
All Inn Dining
All Inn Dining provides a QS in which Benchers, Hall and Student Members all sit together for dinner. Discussion questions will be sent out in advance: these are emphatically intended as conversation starters. We hope that lively discussion will develop, which may move into all sorts of directions: this is allowed, indeed encouraged. These events are interactive and require preparation in advance.
We also run a few All Inn Dining sessions called “Preparing for Practice” which will specialise in one or more specific areas of law, giving students an opportunity to discuss issues arising in those particular areas with judges and practitioners who have experience of them.
The Inn runs interactive workshops on Ethics; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and Advocacy. These sessions are interactive and require preparation in advance and allow students to run through material/scenarios with experienced practitioners.
Legal Research Training
The library offers a wide range of QS for our students both in person and online. The offering is subject to change, but most sessions are interactive and require preparation in advance and allow you to follow along with one of our trained librarians and ask any questions you may have.
The semi-finals and final of the Inn’s annual Rosamund Smith mooting competition take place in Hall. Having watched the moot, there will be a discussion of the moot problem with the barrister who wrote it. This is followed by a reception and formal dinner.
Advocacy Training weekends
A number of residential weekends are usually run each year, three at Cumberland Lodge near Windsor and one in York. Attending one of these weekends will count as several QS points. These weekends are interactive and require preparation in advance.
How to be credited with a Qualifying Session
For in person events, 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 reception. Details of timings for each QS are provided on the website.
- Hand in your ticket to the Front of House staff on arrival, who record attendance. The onus is on you to hand in your ticket and thus to make sure that your attendance goes on record.
For online events, to be credited with a QS you must;
- Join using the link provided before the session is due to start
- Display your full name (so we can identify you)
- Attend for the duration of the session. If you lose connection, please re-join as soon as possible.
A record of who has attended each event is then processed and members' records will be updated accordingly - this may take up to 10 working days after an event.
Students who fail to attend a booked session without prior notice may be required to explain to themselves in writing to the Education Department.
Students who fail to attend or arrive late on multiple occasions 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
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. View full 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. View full 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.
On request the Inn can cater for certain dietary requirements. View full details on dietary requirements.
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, view the optionss. 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 once 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’.
Circuit Receptions and Dinners
The Inn organises receptions and dinners for it's members on circuit. Some of these will be linked to a lecture/talk and will count as a QS.
Education Days on Circuit
The Inn organises Education Days for students based on circuit. These will be held on a Saturday in a host city on circuit to cater for students based at local Bar Course providers.
The Inn aims to hold up to 4 Education Days one of each of the Northern, North Eastern, Midlands and Wales/Western circuits. The host city will vary each year.
Over the course of the day, students can expect to take part in an ethics workshop, an advocacy workshop and a discussion on a current legal issue. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. A minimal charge will apply for tickets but the costs are subsidised by the Inn.
Free tickets for OOL students
We appreciate that students undertaking the Bar Course at a provider on Circuit will find it more expensive to attend Qualifying Sessions at the Inn. To alleviate the problem, tickets for most in person QS at the Inn are available to OOL students free of charge.
The exceptions are a small number of larger events in Hall for which a small surcharge is made. In addition, a nominal charge of £5 will be made for all online events. The residential weekends at Cumberland Lodge and in York are heavily subsidised for all participating students and the same fee applies to all students.
Please note that once an OOL student has booked 10 QS (including events on Circuit) they will be charged the standard student rate for any further events.
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 (as per the cancellation policy) 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)
- to disregard/modify the requirement to attend 6 QS in person, if there are valid reasons preventing a student from doing so
A waiver will remove the requirement to attend one or more QS, or remove the requirement to attend a certain number of QS in person. Applications to waive a number of QS 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 Sally Yorke at email@example.com 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.
Booking / cancelling tickets | Waiting lists
Details of how to book or cancel tickets are found in the Booking and Cancellation policy.
Some key things to remember before you book:
- Check the location and timings for each QS and make sure you are able to attend from start to finish.
- If the QS is tagged as ‘interactive and requires preparation in advance’ you will have to plan time beforehand to download and carry out the preparation.
- Consider booking events with topics that are new to you, you may find your new passion!
- Try to experience the range of different events on offer – there are lectures, talks, moots, and workshops. Some are followed by a reception, others by a formal dinner.
- Try and spread the events you book across the academic year, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- When events are open to guests you are welcome to bring family or friends – show them round your Inn!
Before attending each event:
- Ensure you (and any guests you’re bringing) know what the dress code is and adhere to it.
- Check the most up to date information on the website to make sure nothing has changed, and to access any preparatory material where applicable.
If you find you aren't able to attend an event, please cancel your ticket ASAP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org - spaces are limited and we often have a waiting list.
If tickets for an event are fully booked, we will have a waiting list. Email email@example.com stating the event name and date and requesting to be added to the waiting list.
If we receive any cancellations we will contact those on the waiting list via email, first-come-first-served, to offer them a ticket.