An institution such as the Bar, with its traditions and formality, can appear daunting. This scheme aims to provide student members with a ‘sponsor’ - a practising barrister – who will act as a mentor and contact at the Bar, taking a personal interest in the student and providing advice where appropriate. The student is often referred to as a “spondee”.
What does a sponsor do?
A sponsor is not intended to act as tutor or welfare officer, still less can they offer pupillages, but they are always ready to be consulted when spondees need advice, even if only to suggest who is the right person to apply to for further help.
A sponsor’s role is not intended to be onerous.
Sponsors can perform a valuable role by:
- introducing students to the history, traditions and activities of the Inn
- providing advice as to what activities students could undertake to improve their CVs
- providing guidance on aspects of practice such as:
- the different areas of specialisation
- the different sets of chambers
- practice in London vs on circuit
- self-employed vs employed Bar
Students must appreciate that whilst a sponsor may be prepared, where appropriate, to give advice, it is not the role of a sponsor to:
- obtain, or assist students to obtain, pupillage
- help students with their work
- draft CVs
- complete application forms
- help with “networking”
The official sponsor-spondee relationship will last for 12 months from the date of allocation. Of course, with mutual consent, the spondee is welcome to remain in touch with the sponsor after this time.
Who is eligible to apply for a sponsor?
Student members of the Inn can apply for a sponsor. Applications will also be accepted from members of the Inn who have been Called and are still in the process of applying for pupillage. Priority will be given to students who are currently studying the BPTC.
For members of the Inn currently in practice:
The Hall Committee, in conjunction with the Membership Department, run a Mentoring Scheme for members of the Inn who are at any stage of practice. Please ensure you apply to the relevant scheme.
How to apply
Complete the application form when it opens on 7 October 2019.
You will be asked to specify:
- details of your BPTC, where applicable
- the areas of law (up to 3 choices) that you are interested in
- preference for an employed or self-employed sponsor
- preference for location
Once you have been allocated a sponsor it is the responsibility of the spondee to contact the sponsor (preferably by email) as soon as possible, and in any event within 21 days, to arrange a meeting.
Please bear in mind that while we will do our best to allocate you a sponsor who does the sort of work you are interested in, in the location you request, it may not be possible to match you as precisely as you would like.
Who is eligible to act as a sponsor?
Apart from Benchers or Silks, who are likely to be distant from the problems currently experienced by new entrants to the Bar, and Judges, who are no longer in practice at the Bar, all members of the Inn who have qualified and are in practice at the self-employed or employed Bar, including recent entrants, are eligible to be Sponsors. Limited experience is by no means a disqualification and in some cases may be advantageous from the Spondee’s point of view.
In turn, sponsors may gain an insight from spondees as to the content of relevant degrees and BPTC courses and the current trials and tribulations of qualifying, which may be useful to chambers when assessing applications for pupillage etc.
We will aim to allocate you one spondee per year, however if you are able and willing to have more than one please let us know. The official sponsor-spondee relationship will last for 12 months from the date of allocation. Of course, with mutual consent, the spondee is welcome to remain in touch with the sponsor after this time.
If you are interested in acting as a sponsor or have any questions please contact Alexandra Stan on firstname.lastname@example.org