22 September 2018

Joining an Inn

What is their purpose?

What do they provide?

When should you become an Inn member?

Making your Inn choice

Qualifying units

Advocacy training

What is the purpose of Inns?

The Inns of Court or "Inns" alone have the power to call a student to the Bar. Only those called to the Bar are able to exercise rights of audience in the superior courts of England and Wales as barristers.                            

What do the Inns do?

The Inns are principally non-academic societies which provide collegiate and educational activities and support for barristers and BPTC students. They all provide the use of a library, lunching and dining facilities, common rooms and gardens.

They also provide a number of grants and scholarships for the various stages on the way to becoming a barrister. Please contact your Inn for details of the closing date for GDL scholarships. Closing date for BPTC scholarships is the first Friday in November for the BPTC in the following academic year.

As well as awards and scholarships, the Inns are able to offer advice to their student members, for example, assistance with completing CVs and application forms for the BPTC and for pupillage. Mock interviews are also available, as are the arrangement of marshalling schemes. Check with the student officers of the Inns for details.

When should you become an Inn member?

Admission to an Inn is required before registration on the BPTC, although many undergraduates join before this stage in order to participate in activities, use the library, or start their qualifying sessions.

Students must join an Inn by 31 May of the year their BPTC is due to commence. Students who are not a member of an Inn when BPTC registration starts will not be able to enrol on the course.

Making your Inn choice

A student's choice of Inn does not affect the area of law in which they wish to practise or their choice of pupillage or tenancy. It is usually a matter of personal choice. We suggest that students visit the Inns and talk to current members and to the student officers to inform their decision.

Qualifying units

Students are required to complete 12 qualifying units in order to be called to the Bar. These units, also known as qualifying sessions, can be defined as "educational and collegiate activities arranged by or on behalf of the Inn(s)" for the purpose of preparing BPTC students for practice. These sessions used to be known as "dining sessions", traditionally focused on dining with senior practitioners, which also provided networking opportunities and sharing of best practice. It is more common now for these sessions to have relevant talks and training workshops.

Qualifying sessions may take a number of forms, including:

  • attendance at weekends (either in the Inn or at a residential centre such as Cumberland Lodge);
  • education days (primarily for out of London students);
  • education dinners (with lectures or talks);
  • "domus" dinners (when students and seniors dine together), and
  • social dinners (such as Grand Night or student guest nights or dinners at the providers).

Weekend events count as three units; education days count as two units; dinners and Call Night count as one unit.

Advocacy training

Each Inn runs advocacy training courses for their pupils. These combine advocacy training with lectures on areas such as law and forensic skills.

Each Inn has student societies and supports involvement in debating activities which range from internal events to inter-Inn, national and international competitions.

Some training sessions count as qualifying units.