By Grace Etheredge
Thinking of studying the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) and doing so with the view of becoming a barrister? Congratulations! You’ve already made two difficult decisions and that’s not to be sniffed at. As I’m sure you’ve discovered though, this is the bit where it gets tricky because you have to figure out how to pay for it all. But don’t worry because if I can do it with 0 pounds in the bank (actually I had minus whoops), you can too! Here is what you need to know:
GDL students do not qualify for Student Finance Loans
This is entirely senseless and makes me quite angry as the provision of Student Finance support would go a long way to making the legal profession more accessible. But its sadly no use ranting so let’s move on.
The Inns of Court supporting aspiring barristers!
There are four Inns of Court and these offer scholarships to students to cover either all or some of the costs of the GDL.
You can only apply to one and, as every Inn has a different approach, I would recommend doing some serious research. While Lincoln’s Inn and Grey’s Inn generally shortlist candidates to interview, for example, the Inner Temple and Middle Temple interview every applicant. They all, however, mostly make merit the focus of their decision making. Therefore, it pays to be aware of your application’s strengths and weaknesses and how crucial that initial interview may be for you.
Remember though, any scholarship you may be awarded will come with the condition that you use it to pursue a career as a barrister. I would recommend taking a good look at the Inns’ policies on this and even phoning them up to chat about it – they have great staff who are very willing to help!
You may qualify for the support of a local educational charity
Believe it or not, your address may make a real difference to the kind of support that is available in your area! To find a list of what is open to you, sign up to The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding. It’s a fantastic website which allows you to search for organisations which may be able to help you, and which aren’t generally known about. Some of them even date back centuries!
Your alma mater will help you out!
If you studied your undergraduate degree at a university that also offers the GDL, then why not apply there? Universities often offer fee reductions of up to 25% to returning students and even money off to those with a 2:1 or higher!