Combar runs a number of schemes which aim to assist those who are considering a career at the Commercial Bar and those who are already established members of Combar.
COMBAR Student Mentoring Scheme
The Combar Student Mentoring scheme aims to support and encourage individuals from groups which are underrepresented at the Bar of England and Wales (and in particular the Commercial Bar) to pursue careers as barristers. Applications are assessed by reference to need for mentoring and potential to pursue a career at the Bar, and successful applicants are paired practitioners from Combar member sets for a series of one-to-one mentoring sessions. Combar is delighted at the excellent uptake of the Mentoring Scheme, with 20 sets participating and places for roughly 250 mentees across those sets. This year’s application window opened on 27 May and will be open until 16 September. Full details of the scheme, including the online application form, can be found here.
Substantial financial support to cover training
Financial support is also available from the Inns of Court (which are essentially professional associations for barristers in England and Wales). The Inns offer financial support and guidance to aspiring barristers. Scholarships are available for a number of stages of the training, including for the Graduate Diploma in Law and (in particular) the Bar Professional Training Course. The largest scholarships are over £20,000 and are enough to cover academic fees and living expenses, but there is a wide range of awards available.
Most Combar sets offer pupillage awards which are on a par with starting salaries for other city lawyers, and some are more generous than that. Many sets allow a proportion of that award to be drawn down early to help defray course fees for the vocational stage.
Other types of help
There are many other sorts of support available to those embarking on a career as a barrister.
The first port of call for these is the Inns of Court. In addition to financial support for vocational training (described above), the Inns of Court operate various scholarship schemes for aspiring barristers. They also offer open days and other information events, mentoring (or ‘sponsorship’) schemes which connect students with an individual barristers who can offer advice and support, and mock interviews and workshops to assist with the pupillage applications process. See:
In addition, many Combar sets participate in the following schemes:
- Bridging the Bar is a student-led initiative through which candidates from underrepresented groups are able to apply for mini-pupillages in chambers https://bridgingthebar.org/our-programmes/ Mini-Pupillage Programme
- The Pathways to Law scheme, operated by the Sutton Trust, offers eligible secondary students an opportunity to explore options available within the legal services profession. Participating chambers offers students the opportunity to spend time shadowing barristers in chambers and attending court. https://www.suttontrust.com/our-programmes/pathways-to-law/
- The Social Mobility Foundation helps students from non-traditional backgrounds to focus on thinking about careers and university choices whilst at school. It provides tailored practical support across 11 career sectors, including law. https://www.socialmobility.org.uk/about-us/
- The 10,000 Black Interns Programme offers six-week internships to candidates who are Black African, Black Caribbean and/or Black British): https://www.10000blackinterns.com/