Becoming a Bencher
What is a Bencher, how are they elected and how does one apply? Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the process for becoming a Lincoln’s Inn Bencher, along with the guidance and information you need to apply.
What is a Bencher?
The Benchers of Lincoln’s Inn form a governing body called Council which is responsible for the oversite of the Inn’s functions and election of new Benchers.
Benchers contribute to the running of the Inn in a number of ways, including attending Council meetings, serving on committees, and representing the Inn at events such as Call Days.
Benchers also volunteer their time to support members in their education and training. The Inn depends on the voluntary support and participation of members at all levels to carry out important functions in relation to education and scholarships and to prosper as a professional and supportive community. Many of those who have been appointed as Benchers are already involved in volunteering at the Inn and will continue to do so following election.
Who is eligible?
In order to be eligible for election as a Bencher, individuals must have been a member of Lincoln’s Inn for at least five years and have been Called to the Bar.
When/how often are new Benchers elected?
New Bencher elections are held twice a year culminating in the announcement of new Benchers at Council meetings in May and November. The number of vacancies in each election are determined by Council but is normally between two and five.
Process to become a Bencher
How do I apply?
Eligible candidates can indicate an interest in becoming a Bencher by submitting a Bench Register form. Forms are submitted via Formsite and users should create an account when completing their forms to ensure that they can be accessed and updated in future.
The Bench Register form is an opportunity to demonstrate suitability in the following areas:
- Standing in legal profession or another walk of life
- Past contribution to the life and work of the Inn or of the legal profession
- Experience demonstrating suitability to be a Bencher
- Ability and willingness to do work for the Inn and take part in its governance
- Promotion of Diversity
Further guidance on completing the form is available.
What happens once I’ve applied / How does the election process work?
Submitted forms are compiled into a list of interested candidates, known as the Bench Register. Applicants can submit and revise their Bench Register forms at any point throughout the year, however, however they will only be reviewed and assessed by twice a year – ahead of each election.
Newly submitted forms are reviewed by the Advisory (Benchers) Committee or ‘A(B)C’ who then make recommendations to Council about which candidates should go forward for election based on the evidence provided. All members of the A(B)C undergo fair selection training with a focus on conscious and unconscious bias.
A(B)C will put forward at least twice as many candidates as there are vacancies for each election. The number of vacancies in each election are determined by Council but it is normally between two and five.
The list of candidates will be submitted to Council for discussion before voting commences. All Ordinary Benchers are eligible to vote on the proposed candidates. When voting, Benchers are encouraged to review a summary of the information submitted in forms which is presented to them in the form of a report from the A(B)C. All information shared is GDPR compliant and no personal information that has been included on the form will be shared outside of the A(B)C.
Once voting has closed successful candidates will be informed of their election by a Bencher immediately following the May or November meetings of Council. All other candidates will remain on the Bench Register for consideration in future elections.
How long is my application kept for consideration / Can I reapply?
Forms will remain on the Bench Register for five years from the date of submission, unless withdrawn, after which members will be encouraged to resubmit if they wish to still be considered.
Members are also encouraged to keep their form up to date to allow the A(B)C to have the most current information when selecting candidates for election. To ensure your Bench Register application can be accessed and updated after the initial submission, users create an account when completing their forms via Formsite.
If you are a Called member of the Inn, meet the eligibility criteria and have not submitted a completed form for the Bench Register, we encourage you to do so.