Aspiring to be a barrister or solicitor but worried about how to pay the additional course fees? Below are the different options for funding the required further study.
Bar Professional Training Course
The Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) is required to become a barrister. The cost of the BPTC will vary depending on the institution you have chosen to study at. Naturally, the cost of the BPTC will be cheaper if you choose to study it outside of London. For guidance, the University of Law offers the one-year full-time BPTC in Birmingham for £12,755 or London Bloomsbury for £16,950. On top of these fees, a one-off payment to the Bar Standards Board (BSB) is needed for registration before you commence the BPTC. The current cost of this is £400. With fees this expensive, there are a variety of ways to fund the BPTC if you cannot afford to do so outright.
At first, the fees for these courses can seem daunting. However, there are plenty of funding options available…
Each Inn of Court will offer scholarships and grants. The four Inns are: Middle Temple, Inner Temple, Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn. You can apply to receive funding from any Inn, but you may only apply to one. Moreover, if you receive funding from one of the Inns, you will be required to join that particular Inn. Funding is usually awarded based on merit; however, some Inns will also require information about the applicant’s personal finances. The individual awards can be found by visiting each Inn of Court’s website. Additionally, funding can be won through essay competitions run by the Bar Council. Prize monies for these essays total £9,000.
If you are looking to be called to the criminal Bar, the Kalisher Scholarship Trust covers the BPTC costs for one aspiring barrister annually. As well as providing one student with full course fees, they also offer a variety of bursaries and hold annual essay competitions with a prize of £5,000. Further information about the Kalisher Scholarship Trust can be found on its website.
You can apply to receive funding from any Inn, but you may only apply to one.
As well as the above funding opportunities, a further option would be to study the BPTC part-time, allowing you to earn money to pay the fees. The course would last two years instead of one and course fees would be divided between both years. This provides an excellent opportunity to gain valuable work experience while studying. However, it may prove very demanding working full-time during the week and studying for the BPTC at the weekend.
Legal Practice Course
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is the course needed to become a solicitor. The LPC is slightly cheaper than the BPTC, with the University of Law offering it for £10,845 outside of London and £13,905 in London. In addition, a £120 registration fee needs to be paid to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to begin the LPC. Again, there a variety of ways to cover LPC fees if you cannot afford to pay it outright.
Most people commencing the LPC will hope to have their fees paid for through sponsorship. This is where a solicitors firm sponsors the individual to take the LPC before commencing a training contract with the firm. For this to happen, solicitors firms often recruit two years in advance. The actual amount of sponsorship will vary between firms, with some offering maintenance loans as well as paying course fees.
Most people commencing the LPC will hope to have their fees paid for through sponsorship.
If you are unsuccessful or do not wish to apply for a sponsorship, other methods of funding are available. The institution at which you wish to study the LPC may offer bursaries and grants. This information can be accessed through the relevant institutions’ websites. The Law Society also runs bursary programmes to cover LPC costs. Their funding comes from a number of trusts and scholarships intended for aspiring solicitors. On the Law Society’s website there is detailed information about the different trusts available and the criteria to receive funding from one of the trusts.
As with the BPTC, Professional and Career Development Loans are available. Also available are graduate loans and Local Authority Grants, which are awarded through student finance. Studying the LPC part-time is also an option, allowing you to pay for your fees and learn transferable skills while studying the course over two years.
Graduate Diploma in Law
If you have not taken a qualifying law degree but want to become a barrister or solicitor, you will need to take the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). This was formerly known as the Common Professional Exam (CPE) and some institutions may still use this term. As you will still be required to complete the LPC after the GDL, the diploma course will add additional expense to your training. The cost of the GDL will again depend on the institution at which you are studying. For example, the University of Law charges from £7,240 for those studying outside of London, and from £9,820 for those studying in London. However, unlike the BPTC and the LPC, prospective GDL students are not required to pay registration fees to an external body.
Graduate loans can be obtained for up to £15,000 from most banks. They will be awarded based on an assessment and subject to status. Additionally, some firms sponsor individuals to take the GDL before embarking on the LPC. However, this could mean you would need to apply more than two years in advance. The Law Society and the Bar Society do not offer any funding for those wishing to take the GDL.