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Inner Temple Overview

by Charles Nwabueze
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple is an unincorporated membership association that has existed since the 14th century and forms part of one of the four Inns of Court that hold the exclusive right to call students to practise law at the Bar of England and Wales. The Inner Temple boasts of a global membership that is ever progressive in strengthening and promoting the rule of law and a vibrant, diverse, legal community. For example, one of the most famous people ever to be called to the English Bar, Mahatma Gandhi was a member of the Inn. India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru was also a member. Another fun fact to know about the Inner Temple is that the first woman barrister, Ivy Williams, was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1922. The Inner Temple is led and shaped by the profession for the profession; is dedicated to attracting the best candidates and making sure that everyone at each stage of their career has access to excellent education and training resources so they can develop and thrive. 

Keep reading to see what else the Inn is made of.


The founding of the Inner Temple has been traced to the 12th century. In the middle of the 12th century, the Military Order of the Knights Templar built a fine round church by the Thames, which became known as the Temple Church. After the abolition of the Order in 1312 – two centuries later – lawyers came to occupy the Temple site and buildings. They formed themselves into two societies, the Inner Temple and Middle Temple. The 16th century was an age of expansion for the Inner Temple and new buildings were built to accommodate its growing membership, although not all the students joining at this time intended to pursue a legal career. You might have heard of the Great Fire of London of 1666 which was responsible for 13,200 houses burning down – it was this fire that destroyed many of the Inner Temple buildings. A series of subsequent fires and 20th-century war damage was responsible for further losses to the Inn’s property. As a result of the wars, many members of the Inn lost their lives in services during two world wars, and almost half the Temple was demolished by bombing. The Hall, Treasury Office, Benchers’ Rooms and Library were all reconstructed after World War II. However, the best-preserved chambers buildings in the Inner Temple, which date from the 17th century, can be found on the fine terrace at the east end of the site, known as King’s Bench Walk after the King’s Bench Office which was based there until the 19th century.

Today membership of the Inn consists of three categories: students, barristers and Masters of the Bench (Benchers). The Inn also appoints Honorary, Academic and Royal Benchers, and has over 12,000 qualified members, including Judges, barristers (both practising and non-practising) pupils and students. Each year approximately 400 students apply to join The Inner Temple with the intention of training for the Bar. The Inn is governed by 327 governing Benchers, who are responsible for deciding the policy of the Inn, managing the property, and supervising finances.

Education & Training

Apart from the financial assistance – discussed below – the Inn places great emphasis on its responsibility for the training of student barristers. It has a strong commitment to encouraging promising students from all walks of life and providing them with quality education and training to make sure that they are prepared for the career of a barrister. To make sure that aspiring barristers achieve their goals, the Inn makes available a host of accessible schemes and activities for its BPTC students. One of them is the Mentoring Scheme, the scheme aims to pair BPTC students with barristers who can give advice and guidance on an impartial basis. The kind of support offered by mentors through this Scheme includes telephone calls, one-one meetings, advice offered by email, the student attending an Inn event with the mentor, or visiting court with them. There’s also the Mock Interview Scheme that helps BPTC students develop their interview skills in preparation for imminent pupillage interviews by allowing them to practise their interview techniques in front of barristers. Other schemes include the Marshalling and Police Liaison schemes which allow the participants to spend up to a week with a High Court of Circuit Judge and the opportunity to experience the day-to-day running of a police station and/or accompany officers on patrol respectively.

The Inn also provides a further education programme which comprises the compulsory Advocacy Course and non-compulsory Practice Management Course. The Inn’s Pupils’ Advocacy Training Programme for the 2021-2022 session in London and the South East commenced in October 2021. Pupils are divided between Course A beginning in October 2021 and Course B beginning in January 2022. The Inn also makes available a host of educational resources to its members and the general public. The resources include but are not limited to the following: History Society Lecture Recordings, International Practice Panel, Race and the Legal Profession, Social Context of the Law Recordings, Special Gandhi Lecture and Temple Women’s Forum: Planned Breaks and Return to the Bar. In England and Wales, barristers in their first three full years of practice (either from taking up tenancy or commencing a 3rd six), are required to complete 45 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) including at least 9 hours of Advocacy Training and 3 hours of Ethics. The Inner Temple helps its members satisfy this requirement through its New Practitioners’ Advocacy Course which runs twice each year, in April and June. The Inn’s Library offers legal research training in group sessions and on a one-to-one basis for pupils, students and barristers.

Scholarship & Prizes

In 2020, the Inner Temple had the biggest scholarship funds for their candidates; they made awards to a total value of £1,886,306, that’s almost two million pounds! From the scholarship pot, funds are made available for the Bar Course, GDL, Internships, Pupillage and Disability awards. For those undertaking the BPTC, the Inn has said that in 2022 it will have £1,706,995 available for them. BPTC candidates also have 20 major scholarships, approximately 73 exhibition scholarships, 18 Benefactors Scholarships & Prizes and 50 Duke of Edinburgh Awards to cover admission and Call fees. Candidates applying for a BPTC scholarship are mandated to submit an online application form, and going by the last round of BPTC applications, the Inner Temple interviewed every applicant. The Inn intends to continue to offer interviews to all candidates that apply for a Bar Course award.

The BPTC awards are given on merit, with award amounts decided by taking into account the successful applicant’s resources and needs. When choosing who to award the scholarships to, the interview panel will take into account the contents of the candidate’s application form and interview performance. Assessment of the contents & performance will be made using a points-based system, assessing the performance and contents against each of the scholarship criteria. The Inn has set the following as its criteria

  • Academic performance: Evidenced by a great performance at university or academic potential shown through improvements at each academic stage. This is assessed via your application form.
  • Advocacy Potential: If you can deploy precise and well-reasoned arguments with clarity and fluency, and demonstrate persuasiveness and conviction on your application and during your interview, you will excel in this criterion. 
  • Legal Comprehension and Reasoning Skills: Can you analyse complex information; identify material issues; and defend an argument diligently.
  • Professionalism and Interpersonal Skills: This is simply an assessment of your ability to build productive working relationships, treat people with courtesy and respect, and respond appropriately to those from diverse backgrounds and the needs and sensitivities created by individual circumstances.
  • Motivation: The Inn believes – and rightly so – that a very high level of commitment to a career at the Bar, together with a sound understanding of the profession and any current intended area(s) of practice and being adaptable and flexible by being self-aware and self-directed are necessary for success at the Bar.

Going from the statistics released on the Inn’s website, in 2021, there were 493 applications for the BPTC scholarship, 442 of those applicants were interviewed – in an application cycle there will be withdrawals, hence the lower interviewees – and 129 were awarded a scholarship. Apart from the BPTC awards, in 2022, the Inn will also offer £200,500 in GDL scholarships; £15,000 worth of awards to assist students or pupils who have a disability and a small number of scholarships for those with a minimally funded pupillage. 


Charles is a writer, practising lawyer and personal trainer who loves learning and developing himself. He graduated from Middlesex University, London with eight first-class grades in the second and third years of his law degree, and received a postgraduate offer from Cambridge University. He loves strength training, boxing and encouraging people to succeed in their pursuits (legal ones)


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