The Inns of Court or “Inns” are professional membership associations for barristers in England and Wales. The Inns are mostly non-academic societies which provide collegiate and educational activities and support for barristers and students. They all provide the use of a library, lunching and dining facilities, common rooms and gardens. There are four Inns: Lincoln’s Inn, Gray’s Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple, all based in London.

You must be a member of an Inn before you start the vocational component of training for the Bar. The deadline for joining an Inn for students is 31 May in the year in which you start your vocational training, which may be at the start of the course or partway through if you are doing a course which integrates the academic and vocational components of training. Transferring lawyers should contact their chosen Inn for more information about when they should join.

It is up to you which Inn you choose to join, though you can only join one Inn. Your choice of Inn does not affect the area of law in which you practise or your choice of pupillage or tenancy. You may wish to visit or contact the Inns in order to help you make your choice. All four Inns provide a similar range of services, including scholarships to students on the GDL and students undertaking the vocational component of training. Information about the different scholarship requirements, including deadlines for application, are available on the Inns’ websites.

You must apply directly to your chosen Inn for membership with an Admission Declaration, which enables the Inn to identify any issues which may call into question whether you are a fit and proper person to practise as a barrister. More information about joining an Inn and the role of the Inns can be found in the Bar Qualification Manual.  

During the vocational component, you will be required to attend qualifying sessions with your Inn. Qualifying sessions are intended to complement and build on your academic and vocational training. They may include lectures, dinners, advocacy courses, moots and residential weekends, and will cover one or more of the following categories:

  • 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

Once you have successfully completed the vocational component, your Inn will Call you to the Bar. You must be Called to the Bar in order to complete the pupillage / work-based learning component of training, and the Inns of Court are the only institutions with the power to Call a person to the Bar.

Guidelines for determining whether someone is fit and proper to become a practising barrister

In March 2019, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) and each of the four Inns which, among other things, set out the future Guidelines for the Inns in determining if a person is "fit and proper" to become a practising barrister. Following our approval of the Inns Conduct Committee Rules, these new Guidelines come into force on 1 January 2020. This means that from 1 January 2020, those applying for admission to an Inn, and subsequently for Call to the Bar, will be assessed against these new Guidelines.

Please note that the requirement for a "Standard" Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check in time for Call will begin with those individuals seeking Call to the Bar in July 2021.