LCAN, the Law Careers Advice Network, primar aims was to promote and enhance understanding in the student population in schools, further and higher education institutions about the opportunities available to those who wish to pursue a career in law.

Sources of funding

Funding options

For many students, the possibility of furthering their legal training can depend on financial capabilities. Qualifying as a lawyer is a costly process. Below are details of some of the options available to students who wish to go on to qualify as lawyers.


A range of law firms offer sponsorships to students to complete their vocational stage of training. These sponsorships are generally part of the training contract package offered to successful applicants. Therefore, those that are given sponsorship are expected to fulfil the two year training period that follows with that firm. The types of sponsorship vary greatly. Packages can include funding or partial funding for the Legal Practice Course or the Common Professional Examination/Graduate Diploma in Law. Some packages even come with maintenance allowance as well as fee payment. Some of the smaller firms, unable to offer fee payment or maintenance grants, may offer interest free loans in their place. You should be aware, however, that only some firms, notably the larger firms, are in a position to assist students with funding. If you choose to train at a firm which does not provide financial support or are unsuccessful in obtaining a place with a firm offering support, you will be responsible for the full costs of your education and training as a solicitor.

Sponsorship information can be found in a variety of publications and from a number of different sources. If you are a student or graduate, your college or your university careers service will have a list of firms which are recruiting and information about sponsorship. If you are a graduate, you should initially contact the careers service of the university you graduated from, before seeking help from the careers service of your nearest university or college of higher education. Thorough research into solicitors’ firms is essential in making your decision.

Search training contracts on Graduate Prospects' online Law Community,, which includes lists of firms which are recruiting trainees and gives information about firms offering sponsorship.

Some legal publications will provide a variety of information. The Lawyer magazine publishes a "student special" supplement twice yearly. This contains a list of firms who offer sponsorship to students wishing to qualify as solicitors.

A further, useful source of information is Chambers and Partners. Their website gives details of firms that offer sponsorship and is regularly updated.

For aspiring barristers, certain chambers will forward a percentage of the pupillage award during your BVC year to cover finances of the course. There is no extensive list of chambers that offer this facility, so students should, when researching chambers, investigate whether this option is available.

Scholarships and bursaries

Law Society Bursary Scheme

The Law Society Bursary Scheme is funded by a number of trusts and scholarships set up by people who have expressed a desire to contribute to the development of new solicitors. Awards from the fund are available for students who have a place on the Common Professional Examination/Graduate Diploma in Law or the Legal Practice Course.

In order to qualify for consideration for an award, you will need to be able to demonstrate that your financial hardship is greater than the average student, that you are able to complete the course for which you are registered and that you are committed to completing the course and to a career as a solicitor. You should be aware that the availability of the fund varies from year to year and the fund is limited. It must also be stressed that competition for the awards is strong and only a small number of bursaries are awarded each year.

Further information is available from The Law Society.

Law Society Diversity Access Scheme

The Law Society has also launched a Diversity Access Scheme which aims to provide support to talented people who will have to overcome particular obstacles to qualify as a solicitor. These obstacles might relate to social, educational, financial or family circumstances or to a disability that makes the goal of qualifying as a solicitor a particularly challenging one. Sponsorship to cover fees for the Common Professional Examination/Graduate Diploma in Law or the Legal Practice Course is available to successful applicants.

Further information is available from The Law Society.

College access funds

These funds are available to students at universities and publicly funded colleges mainly to provide additional assistance to meet living costs. Funds are apportioned to colleges and are given out at their discretion to full time students. You should contact the student support or student services officer of your institution for further details.

Please note - these funds are intended for students who are experiencing particular difficulties in meeting their living costs. Students must be aged 19 or over but there is no upper age limit.

Minority ethnic students

An organisation called The Windsor Fellowship offers a limited amount of scholarships, usually for the Legal Practice Course, to members of minority ethnic communities, who are British citizens and wish to qualify as solicitors.

For overseas students, The British Council can provide information and assistance to those students seeking to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales. It must be noted that students from outside the European Community will not normally be eligible for local authority awards as there are nationality and residence criteria to establish this eligibility. Overseas students who are able obtain work permits for the purpose of serving under a training contract may apply for sponsorship with firms to support their studies for the Common Professional Examination/Graduate Diploma in Law and the Legal Practice Course.

Charities and grant-making trusts

Your local authority awards officer could have information about local charities and any grant making trusts which may be of relevance to you. The Charities Register, compiled by The Charity Commission for England and Wales, can also be consulted and a copy of this may be accessible through your local reference library or can be searched online. You are advised to refrain from placing too much reliance on one of these awards. The criteria vary enormously, with eligibility in some cases being limited. Usually, the awards only provide a small amount of money and so should not be depended upon to support your tuition fees or maintenance for the whole year.

Local authority grants

Through your local authority, you can get hold of a leaflet or booklet that provides details of mandatory and discretionary award policies. This will include reference to courses which the authority will consider suitable for the purpose of financial support.

The Common Professional Examination/Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course fall into the category of discretionary awards, which means that the authority will decide, using a series of criteria established by the officers and elected members, whether an individual will qualify for an award.

Discretionary funds, where available, are very limited and you should apply immediately after the first date published for receipt of applications, usually no later than the date for applications for mandatory awards. The dates will differ so it is essential that you check with your local authority.

For more general guidance on grants, see the Department for Education and Skills' (DfES) Guide to financial support for Higher Education students in 2014/2006.

The Inderpal Rahal Memorial Trust

This trust was set up in memory of Inderpal Rahal, a female barrister who suffered a tragic death. The rationale behind the trust is to enable women experiencing financial hardship to further their legal education. The trust makes one or occasionally two grants per year towards legal training for women from an immigrant or refugee background who intend to practise or teach law in the UK. Candidates are required to complete an application form and those who are shortlisted then attend an interview.

For further information, contact the Inderpal Rahal Memorial Trust administrator for details at

Private funding

Loan schemes

Many high street banks offer loans packages to students to enable them to complete postgraduate education. As potential high earners, many of these banks put together special packages to help would-be lawyers pay for courses such as the Common Professional Examination/Graduate Diploma in Law or the Legal Practice Course. These packages generally offer a lower interest rate than normal and delayed repayments on the loan in order for you to complete the course and hopefully obtain employment before you start reimbursing the bank for the loan facility.

There is an ever growing list of financial institutions that offer student funding. For regularly updated information about such offers, see Support 4 Learning.

Career development loans

A career development loan is simply a bank loan, however, it holds features that set it apart from general bank loan schemes. Firstly, the repayment of the loan is deferred until you have finished your course of vocational learning or education. Secondly, the Department for Education and Skills pays the interest on the loan whilst you are learning and for up to one month after you have finished your course, after this the repayments fall to you and you pay the bank back at a fixed rate of interest. As with other bank loan schemes, there are certain amounts you can borrow, these vary between £300 to £8,000.

Career development loans can only be used for vocational courses. With regard to law, this should prove no problem as the Legal Practice Course, the Common Professional Exam or the Graduate Diploma in Law are all classed as vocational courses ('vocational' meaning that it gives you the skills needed for an occupation, trade or profession). However, if you wish to pursue another type of postgraduate degree such as an LLM or MA, then you would not be able to use a career development loan to fund this.

There are only three financial institutions involved in the scheme. These are Barclays Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Co-operative Bank.

For further information, contact one of the banks mentioned above or contact the Career Development Loan helpline on 0800 585 505 or see the DfES Career Development Loans website.

Funding for the Bar

Before students can enrol onto the Bar Vocational Course they must join one of the four Inns of Court. The choice of Inn is totally up to the student. It is advisable that students research the four Inns and decide on which one is most attractive to them. A distinct advantage of some Inns over others is the amount of scholarships and funding they provide. All of the Inns offer some type of funding, however, competition for this can be very fierce, with deadlines falling quite early.

Inns of Court awards and scholarships (2003/04)

CPE BVC Pupillage Other Total
Lincoln's Inn£150,000 £678,000£25,000 £50,000* £903,000
Inner Temple £140,000£630,000 £28,000£15,000* £813,000
Middle Temple£80,000 £570,000£50,000£66,000** £766,000
Gray's Inn£50,000 £529,700£41,850£28,450* £650,000
Total£420,000£2,407,700£144,850 £159,450£3,312,000

*Entrance awards, stages, academic prizes, sundry small awards etc **Value of accommodation awards (mainly to BVC students)

Note that although it appears some Inns have more capability to provide scholarships and awards than others, due to the smaller numbers joining some Inns, the amount they have to share out amongst students is roughly proportionately the same. Also note that all Inns have deadlines for applying for these awards which must be researched by potential applicants.

Applying for an Inns of Court scholarship

Each year, the Inns of Court offer a generous range of awards and scholarships for their student members in order to assist with – amongst other things – their study fees, to reward excellent results in the BVC, as essay prizes, and to encourage those with the greatest potential to fulfil that potential within the Bar. Any student (from the stage of CPE/GDL and onwards) wishing to become a barrister can apply for a scholarship and a wide range of people benefit from them each year. In order to receive an award, a student must be a member of that Inn. However, it is possible to apply for an award before joining. What a student must not do is apply for awards at more than one Inn – the Inns do checks to ensure no-one is breaking this rule.

Awards are given to students commencing the CPD/GDL, the BVC and pupillage. There are also a number of "miscellaneous" awards for items such as Call fees. Each of the Inns’ websites details the awards on offer. Details are below:


In general, the Inns will take into account the following factors when deciding whether someone is eligible for an award:

  • Academic achievement (for some awards, a 2:1 at law degree is required).
  • Intellectual and personal qualities.
  • Extra-curricular activities and achievement.
  • Potential for successful practice at the Bar.
  • Temperament and motivation.
  • Mooting and/or debating experience.
  • Up-to-date references – usually two are required.

In some cases, consideration will also be given to the financial circumstances of each candidate in deciding the amount of any scholarship or award. Students receiving an award will also be required to sign a declaration stating their intention to practice at the Bar. Any award given will need to be re-paid if the candidate does not pursue a career at the Bar.


If a candidate is selected for an award the Inns usually require an interview in order to set the amount of the award. It is important that candidates are prepared for the interview, in a similar way as one would prepare for a job interview. Advice can be sought from the Scholarships Officer but preparation should include thinking about answers to questions such as:

  • why you want to be a barrister;
  • details of interesting court cases you have witnessed;
  • which areas of law particularly interest you;
  • past achievements and future aspirations.

The interviews are designed to assess a candidate’s potential as a barrister and advocate, not to trick them. However candidates are likely to be required to think quickly on their feet in answering some of the questions – with the aim of impressing the interview panel.


Deadlines are strictly followed by the Inns, so it is vital any applications are received in good time. For CPE/GDL awards, the deadline is the last Friday in the May immediately preceding the start of the CPE/GDL course. For BVC awards, the deadline is the first Friday in November of the year prior to starting the BVC. For pupillage awards, the deadline is the penultimate Friday in July of the year when the candidate is completing the BVC. All Inns have the same deadlines.

Amounts on offer

Over £3 million is available each year between the Inns. Most of this (around 75%) is awarded to BVC students, with around 15% going to CPE/GDL students and 5% each to pupillage awards and "other" awards. Highest awards are usually around £15,000 to cover BVC fees and expenses.

Further information

Contact the Inns of Court for details of application forms, exact amounts on offer, and advice on applying/attending interview. These details are all available from their websites: Lincoln's Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray's Inn.

Funding for ILEX

Over 80% of employers assist with the costs of qualifying as a legal executive. Experience has shown that it can be quite useful to discuss your plans with your employer and to ask for their support.

It must be noted that it is actually a benefit for your employer to pay for your legal executive training as the course fees are tax deductible and the VAT element is recoverable.

The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) also run a benevolent fund under which support can be given, on a case by case application, to assist students in particular need with ILEX educational costs.