Before I begin, I would like to extend my utmost gratitude to those that made the time to contribute to this post. This post would not have been possible without you.
The aim of this blogpost is to highlight how to prepare for the Inns of Court scholarships.
I have managed to get some information from those that secured scholarships from the Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Lincoln’s Inn. Unfortunately, I was unable to get information from anyone who secured a scholarship with Gray’s Inn but nonetheless, I hope that the information shared in this post can helpful to all those that applied to them too.
If you haven’t already read my blogpost on How to apply for Inns of Court Scholarships, I would recommend starting with that. You will note from there: all those that applied to Inner Temple and Middle Temple will automatically get an interview, those that applied to Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn will have to be shortlisted for an interview.
This will be the layout of my blogpost today:
- How to dress
- The procedure on the day
- Examples of questions asked during the interview
- How to prepare for the interview
- The information gathered in this post is based on the experiences of people I personally know of. But, I will not be held responsible for any reliance on what is in this post and I will keep the identity of those who have disclosed the information anonymous at all times. It is up to you to do further research to clarify the contents of this blogpost.
- The information in this post has been taken from people that attained scholarships in previous years. It is up to you to clarify whether the procedures for this year will be the same.
- You need to keep in mind that the interview questions asked vary from person to person, and from year to year. As such, the information in this post should not be considered conclusive and I would recommend doing as much research on how to prepare for the interview from different sources.
- You have to keep in mind that everyone works differently and just because something works for one person does not mean it will work for another.
- The image used in this blogpost does not belong to me. I got it from this website.
HOW TO DRESS
It is my recommendation to dress as conservatively as you would if you were going to court. According to the BPP BPTC Manual, and some of my own recommendations, this means:
For both men and women:
Suits should be dark. Either dark blue, dark grey or black.
- Jacket undone – Ideally, men’s jackets should be DOUBLE BREASTED or 3-PIECE. If you wear a single-breasted jacket, you do need to do it up. You are not supposed to show your shirt over the stomach.
- Shirts for men – All dress for court should be sober and discreet. Shirts should ideally be plain. A simple and subtle stripe is OK. Solid coloured shirts are discouraged, but pale blue is probably acceptable.
- Ties should be sober and discreet. Avoid black or white ties.
- Socks should be dark and plain.
- Shoes must be black.
- Shirts should be predominantly done UP. Cleavage should not be on show.
- Stockings/tights – Plain or simple and subtle pattern.
- Skirts – nothing above the knee and make sure the slit is not too high.
- Trousers should be full length.
- Open toe shoes are not allowed in court.
- Girls shoe colour – There’s a little more flexibility, but to keep it safe, you should stick to black or navy.
- Boots with short skirt – this is an inappropriate combination for court.
- Boots for women are OK, but they should avoid stiletto heels, buckles, straps etc
- Make up – I would recommend no bold colour lipsticks e.g. red/purple. Make up should be subtle and neutral.
- Hair – girls with long hair, I would recommend tying it neatly.
PROCEDURE ON THE DAY:
30 minutes before my interview, I was taken with a couple of other students through to the library and we had to choose a recent unpublished case to read for 30 minutes. We had a choice of crime, family or civil. Once we picked the case, we were given some questions at the outset. I chose the civil case and based on my recollection (and I cannot ascertain that the questions/procedure will be the same) the questions were something along the lines of:
- What was the case about?
- What was the key legal question?
- What were the parties’ arguments?
- What was the Court’s decision and what were its reasons?
- They can also ask you for your opinion on the case and whether you think the case was decided correctly or not.
If i’m not mistaken, you can take notes on a piece of paper with these answers and you can carry these notes with you to the interview. However, you might want to confirm this on the day just to be sure.
Note: try to focus more on the questions rather than the case – so be concise but precise.
You are then taken outside an interview room and you wait to be called in.
In the interview
- When you’re taken into the room, there will be 4 barristers/judges who are are generally friendly and try to make you feel comfortable.
- A member of the interviewing panel began by confirming my personal details, followed by the structure of the interview. The member of the panel then explained that each barrister takes charge of one section of the interview each.
I arrived quite early and waited to be called in by the scholarship Co-ordinator. I was then taken into a room which had 3 barristers/judges that were going to interview me and a scholarship co-ordinator that took notes.
I was greeted by the Scholarship Co-ordinator who gave me a seat and told me I’d be called in shortly. I got there super early so there was a pretty long wait. I had a little chat with the Scholarship Co-ordinator to loosen myself up!
EXAMPLES OF QUESTIONS ASKED DURING THE INTERVIEW:
- Explain the role of Civil Law in one minute.
- Tell us about a recent case you read in the news recently – why did it appeal to you? (P.s your views can be challenged on this).
- What area of law are you interested in and why?
- Questions from the application form.
- Tell us what your hobbies are and convince us that we should try it out in a minute?
- Why are you interested in becoming a barrister?
- You could also be asked something to do with current affairs.
- Questions relating to finances – whether you are eligible for a bank loan; what debt are you in etc.
- I was mainly scrutinized on why I should get a scholarship as I had gone to Cambridge for a 2 year accelerated law degree. I was asked why I chose to go to Cambridge for this rather than using that money for the GDL and then the BPTC.
- I was also asked what area of law I was interested in. I said commercial law and I was scrutinized on this point as they said why should we give you money for the BPTC when you will enter commerical law but other areas of the bar like family and crime don’t have much money – so shouldn’t priority be given to those students interested in those areas?
- What area of law do I want to do? Why?
- Then a series of questions based on the experiences I had. In particular, they focused on the unique experiences I had. They didn’t ask much about the standard stuff like my mini-pupillages. Instead, they wanted to know more about the work I had done in refugee camps and in teaching kids to debate. The questions didn’t just demand descriptive answers though. I had to explain what impact these experiences had on me and why I think it will help me at the Bar.
HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW
For the Inner Temple unpublished case question:
- I picked the civil case in the interview. To prepare answering questions on it, one of my lecturers was kind enough to guide me to http://www.bailii.org. This site contains the reports of the most recent cases. If you look to the left of the wesbite, you’ll see “Bailii resources”. If you click on England and Wales, you’ll see there are options to choose judgements from different courts. So if you are planning on choosing a Civil case, then you should click on the “England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions” and select the judgment of any case you would wish to read. I then practised by trying to read that judgment in 30 mins and practised answering questions along the lines of the ones I mentioned on the top. From my personal experience, I would also recommend keeping a note of: how many judges there were in the case; who gave the majority ruling; whether any judges dissented; and whose decision you agreed with and why.
- I think at this stage its important to state that you shouldn’t forget to carry the stationary you think you’ll need. For e.g. I carried a pen, a pencil and a highlighter.
General ways/tips to prepare for Inner Temple, Middle Temple, Lincoln’s Inn Interview
Remember, you can never be overprepared for an interview:
- Make sure you get there early enough;
- Look for as much information from different sources on the internet – check facebook groups, comments in the StudentRoom website;
- I practised these 50 questions from the middle temple website – http://middletemplestudents.com/example-pupillage-interview-questions/;
- Mock interviews with lecturers and friends;
- It’s really important to make sure you are up to date with current affairs and pressing issues at the bar in case a question comes up – for this read my blogpost on The importance of commercial awareness and how to stay commercially aware;
- Go through your application form thoroughly and came up with possible questions that could be asked and the answers to them;
- Draw maps for each of your achievements/work experience/pursuits. The mind maps should flesh out the points you make on the applications. Crucially, they should provide detail/insights/reflections/analysis that isn’t on the application form itself (because of the obvious word limit restrictions on application forms). This keeps the interviewer(s) interested – it’s refreshing to hear something they aren’t just reading from the piece of paper in front of them;
- Think of your whole application (the written form and the interview) as an iceberg. When they read the form, what they should see is just the tip of the iceberg – the bit above the water. When they ask you about those things in the interview, they should be able to see the whole iceberg (91% of an iceberg is below the water!) In practice, that means for every thing you talk about on your form, you should have a few reflections/explanations/insights/more examples to talk about. How did activity X shape you? Have you done anything extra since? What did you learn from that mini-pupillage? Draw a mind-map, it really helps!;
- Be sincere. Don’t pretend to have been desperate to have wanted to go into commercial law since the age of 13! (Unless it’s true…) Coming across as authentic and genuine is so important and will endear you to the panel;
- It is extremely important to need to look at the criteria that each Inn is looking for and be able to demonstrate that in the interview;
- As difficult as it is, try to not let your nerves get the better of you. The whole essence of being a Barrister is being able to put up a show. Pause when you feel anxious, and take deep breaths to calm you down;
I hope this information helps you and I wish you all the luck in the world for your interviews!