How to apply

Every year hundreds of would-be scholars complete an online application form to become a Gray’s Inn Scholar.

The process for applying for all of the Inn's major scholarships is largely the same. Applications for all major scholarships can be made online. The Inn does not interview all applicants. Following the application deadline a shortlist will be drawn and candidates will be informed whether or not they have been selected for interview. 

All our scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit alone. Once scholarships are made, additional scholarship funding is awarded based on financial need. 

Behind the scenes 

You have triple checked your application, had a friend read it over, checked it again just in case, and finally submitted it. But what happens to your application then? How are these vital scholarships actually awarded? And why does it take so long to hear back?

Lisa Danielle Bowles, a Gray's Inn Hale Scholar, takes you behind the scenes to meet the people involved and find out how scholarship applications are decided.

Hear from our Chair of Scholarships, David Forsdick QC, some of the barristers who shortlist applications and conduct interviews, and the Education staff working hard to process scholarships throughout the year. (2021 update to the assessment criteria mentioned in this video can be found below).


Online application system

Before starting an application, read our conditions for applicants and scholars. You must also ensure you read all the guidance contained within the application form itself.

GDL, Bar Course and Pupillage must be applied for online.

Apply via our online scholarship application system. 

References must be submitted online. The online scholarship application form will allow unique access for each of your referees via an online portal.

You will be required to create an account if you are a new user. You can create an account at any time, even if it is outside of an application period. If you are using the system in Internet Explorer 9 or above, please ensure you disable ‘compatibility view’ before starting an application.

Internship Scholarships Only 

Internship Scholarships cannot be applied for online. To apply you must email the scholarships team providing:

  • status of your course commencement (either the GDL or Bar course)
  • the particulars of your proposed internship, including financial requirements
  • your present intention regarding your career at the Bar
  • a statement of any other matters, activities or circumstances which you think are likely to be of assistance to the Scholarships Committee, such as your contribution to the Inn to date
  • details of any grant for the same purpose which has been obtained or applied for from other sources
  • a copy of your most recent CV including final academic results
  • details and results of any applications for pupillage or tenancy
  • two references (one academic, one professional) with your application (your referees must submit their references separately and directly to us - a signed hard copy by post or a scanned copy (PDF) of the signed original by email to the scholarships team is acceptable)

Assessment criteria  

For our 2021 scholarships we have updated our selection criteria. Please note the following information, which is currently not included in the Behind the Scenes video:


The following merit criteria will be applied to the written application at the screening stage, and the candidate’s performance during the interview:

  • Academic ability - The ability to succeed as a barrister as demonstrated by performance in school and university examinations, interviews and other experiences in an academic setting
  • Problem solving – The ability to apply lateral and original thinking to solve problems and work with complex information to extract key information and facts to develop an argument
  • Drive and determination - Possesses drive, determination and a strong work ethic to overcome adversity or achieve goals, whilst remaining calm when under pressure
  • Advocacy - Can develop well structured, succinct, grammatically correct, and persuasively written argument. As a public speaker can communicate clearly, concisely and persuasively
  • Motivation to succeed - Demonstrates a clear interest in the Bar and has ambition to become a barrister. Has taken steps to gain an understanding of the profession

References are important. Both screening and interview panels give weight to them. 

The Interview

Candidates should arrive in time to register with the Commissionaire and be seated in the waiting area 15 minutes prior to interview. 

Each interview will be clerked by a member of the Education Department.  

At the proper time, normally 15 minutes prior to your interview, the clerk will greet you in the waiting area.  

Firstly, you will be asked to confirm the status of your course commencement (either the GDL or Bar Course) and your undertaking to practise at the Bar of England and Wales. Take this 30 second opportunity to raise any 11th hour matters which you believe the panel should be aware of in advance of meeting you in person. If, prior to your interview, any relevant matters arise that are not included in your written application, you are required to bring these to the attention of the scholarship team in advance of your interview – not on the day.  

Secondly, the clerk will provide you with (1) brief biographies of the panel members and (2) either one or two topics related to the law for you to consider during the 15 minutes preceding your interview.Using any form of mobile device to reference the topic is prohibited.

Each interview is conducted over 15 minutes by a qualified 3 person panel typically comprised of barristers, judges and other professionals in law. 

At a point during the interview, the panel will ask you to address the topic you have selected. There is no right or wrong answer. The panel will be interested in your oral argument and advocacy, not in your opinion. In other words, avoid making the mistake of giving the panel what you think it wants to hear. 

At the conclusion of the interviews, panels will agree which candidates merit a scholarship. The candidates’ ‘need’ will not have any bearing on the decision to award scholarships.  

Post interview – 1st Results

It will take 2 weeks to inform you of the initial results: (1) either that you have been awarded a named scholarship with an initial merit based award of £2,500 (GDL) or £5,000 (Bar Course), or that you have not been awarded a scholarship; and (2) if you were successful in your application for a Bar Course scholarship and applied for a Residential Scholarship, whether you have or have not been invited to interview for a Residential Scholarship.  


Financial need is considered only after scholarships have been awarded. Merit has no bearing on the total amount of a scholarship.

Means Assessment Panels will rely on the information provided in the Financial Details section of the application in order to assess each new scholar’s means and determine the amount of the scholarship. The Inn seeks to filter scholars in, not out and to give greater financial support to those with the greatest need.

Whilst it is not compulsory, we strongly advise and encourage you to complete the Financial Details section of the application. We can only assume you have the funds you need if you do not complete it. 

Please note that financial need is not applied to Senior Scholarships for pupillage. 

Post Interview – Final Results 

It will take a further 4 - 5 weeks to inform you of the name of your scholarship and the total amount of the award (inclusive of the £2,500 (GDL) or £5,000 (Bar Course) base and any further funding resulting from the means assessment). The Residential Scholarship interviews will take place for Bar Course  scholars within this period. 

Scholarship deadlines

Applications open approximately six weeks in advance of a deadline.


Applications open


Applications close




GDL Scholarships

Scholarships for conversion to law courses


March 2021

Online applications


7 May 2021



Bar Course Scholarships

Scholarships for the cost of the Bar Course 


18 September 2020

Online applications


6 November 2020 at midnight


Late February/early March

Bar Course Residential Scholarships

Residential Scholarships to live in a shared student flat at the Inn


Once Bar Course Scholarships are awarded

Online applications


Available to Bar Course scholars only. An opportunity to apply will be made available to candidates

The Hebe Plunkett Scholarships

Scholarships to assist disabled students/pupils during the GDL, Bar Course or pupillage.


Online applications


First Friday in May

(To be applied towards the GDL, Bar Course or Pupillage)




Senior Scholarships for Pupillage

Four scholarships for pupillage


18 November 2020

Online applications


6 January 2021



Ann Goddard Pupillage Scholarships

For pupils in publicly funded pupillages


18 November 2020

Online applications


6 January 2021



Internship Scholarships

Scholarships and funding for overseas study and internships


Applications not available for
internships commencing in 2020





Other Scholarships and Prizes

Including The Michael Beloff Essay Prize and The Lee Essay Prize


Questions screened from July





Equal Opportunities

Our Equal Opportunities Policy is applied to applicants for all scholarships, internship funding and prizes:

“This Society, in common with the other Inns, is committed to a policy of fairness and equality of opportunity without discrimination on grounds of race, ethnic origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, religion or political persuasion or, from October 2006, age (‘prohibited grounds’). The Society will have regard to the needs of disabled persons and will comply with such provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and of Regulations and Codes made under it as may be in force from time to time and which apply to them.”

A complete copy of the Inn's Code, and of the complaints procedure, is available on request from the Director of Education.


Find out more

  • Conditions for Applicants and Scholars

    Guidance on applying for and accepting a scholarship from the Inn


  • GDL Scholarships

    Scholarships for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)

    GDL Scholarships

  • Bar Course Scholarships

    Scholarships for the Bar Course

    Bar Course Scholarships