What is the Pupillage Gateway?

The Pupillage Gateway, formerly the Pupillage Portal, is a centralised pupillage recruitment system designed by the Bar. It is an online way to apply for pupillage, and in accordance with the Bar Standards Board’s Bar Qualification Manual, any vacancy for pupillage must be advertised on the Gateway.

The Pupillage Gateway is also where 50% of Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs) administer their pupillage recruitment process.

The online portal is operated by the Bar Council, and enables aspiring barristers to search for pupillage vacancies in advance of the Pupillage Gateway timetables going live.

You can use the gateway to apply and track the progress of your pupillage applications.

How to Use The Pupillage Gateway

To use the Pupillage Gateway, you will need to create a Pupillage Gateway login and set up a personal account. You will need to provide an email address and a password. Your email will be used as your login identification and you will be sent a confirmation email to activate your account. Registration with the Pupillage Gateway is free.

Pupillage Applications

The Pupillage Gateway allows you to submit a maximum of 20 applications for pupillage. You should follow the Pupillage Gateway’s applicant user guide to help you with your pupillage applications, especially if you are applying for the first time.

The user guide explains how to complete the standardised Practice Application Form, for which you will need to provide:

  • Personal details
  • Education and grades
  • Any relevant awards, scholarships and work experience
  • A detailed account of why you think you will make a good barrister, and why chambers should choose you

When completing applications, it is important to customise each application specifically to the barristers chambers you are applying to and check deadlines.

The Pupillage Gateway’s user guide outlines how to start your application, how to move through it, how to save it, how to resume a saved application, how to submit it and how to edit it if you need to. Following the completion of the application period, you can check the status of your applications. For applications that are successful, you can then book pupillage interviews using the Gateway.

When to Apply for Pupillage

You should apply for pupillage up to 18 months before you intend to start your law pupillage. However, this will depend on what academic level you are at. For example, if you are in the penultimate year of your law degree, or the final year of a non-law degree, you will only be able to apply to chambers that are offering pupillage to start two years from the date of your applications.

If you are in the final year or your law degree, or studying a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), you can apply to chambers offering law pupillage to start 12 months from the date of your applications. To ensure you submit your applications at the right time, refer to the Pupillage Gateway timetable.

Pupillage Application Questions

Please provide details of any positions of responsibility you have held

For this section, mention societies you are a part of, extra-curricular activities you are involved in, and any paid/unpaid employment. The barristers chambers want to see that you are a willing and successful leader. They will expect you to provide some relevant examples to demonstrate this. Try to tailor your explanation as to why the chambers would benefit from your leadership skills.

Please provide details of your interests and any non-work related involvement. If relevant to your proposed area of practice, please explain in what way

In this section, barristers chambers are looking for well-rounded applicants.Therefore, it is important to demonstrate you have interests and hobbies outside of work, in your Pupillage Gateway applications.

Make sure you include details of any charity or pro bono work that relates to the practice area for which you are applying. Include how the skills you developed are relevant to your application. You could also describe the challenges you faced, how you overcame them, and what you learned.

Why do you wish to become a barrister?

Remember – barristers chambers see hundreds of applications a day. Be sure to make yours stand out and relevant to your skills and attributes. Make sure you describe why you personally would make a successful barrister at the chambers you want to work in.

What areas of practice are you interested in and why?

For this section, make sure you have done your research. Clearly explaining your motivations for applying to a specific barristers chambers, and why you want to work in that particular practice area, is vital.

Mention any work experience in the area you are applying to (for example, mini pupillages, judge marshalling ect.). Explain why you enjoyed it, and more importantly, why you will be a successful barrister in that sector.

Give reasons for your choice of chambers

This section is crucial. Research the chambers thoroughly. Make sure your answer demonstrates your interest in that chambers specifically. Generic, copy and paste answers are no good. Barristers chambers want to recruit candidates they believe will thrive and be genuinely committed to a long future with them.

Why do you believe you will make a good barrister?

In this part of your pupillage application, chambers want to see that you have confidence in the skills you have developed, both in your legal studies, and any work or extra-curricular experiences. They will expect you to express your ambition to succeed.

Make your unique qualities and experiences relevant to the practises of a barrister, and the work that the chambers do in your Pupillage Gateway applications.

Use our What Makes a Good Lawyer guide for inspiration.

Please identify any experiences or skills gained that you believe may help you in your career

Discuss any extra-curricular activities or work experience you have been involved in. You should focus on mooting, advocacy, and legal work experience, especially mini pupillages. Barristers chambers like to see that you have a genuine interest in the profession.

It is crucially important that you explain why these experiences were useful for your career, and what skills they helped you develop.

Pupillage Gateway Timetable

The Pupillage Gateway timetable outlines all the key dates for the pupillage application process. The dates you need to know, include:

Late November Pupillage opportunities are published on the Pupillage Gateway. At this point, you can access the Gateway to browse approved pupillage advertisements.
Early JanuaryApplications for pupillage open. At this stage, you can submit applications and start to create and edit your pupillage applications. You have just over a month to get your applications in.
Early February Applications will close. At this point, you will not be able to submit any more applications or make any amendments to existing applications.
Early/mid-February to early May AETOs will go through applications, shortlist applicants and start the interview process.
Early May* AETOs** will begin making offers and notify reserve candidates and those who have been unsuccessful.

*You have seven days within an initial offer being made to accept a pupillage. If you do not respond within the seven-day period, AETOs will send out a second round of offers within a reasonable time period.

**If you are a reserve candidate, an AETO can offer you a law pupillage provided they have received a response from a first offer applicant, or if their offer has been declined by a candidate.

Can Foreign Nationals Apply Using the Pupillage Gateway?

Yes. The Bar Council operates as a licensed UK visa sponsor, which enables them to provide Skilled Worker visas for funded pupil barristers and tenants working in chambers in England and Wales. If you are a suitably qualified overseas student and you meet the qualifying criteria to train and practise at the Bar, you can apply for pupillage using the Pupillage Gateway.

The Pupillage Gateway and Transferring Solicitors

If you are a transferring solicitor, you can access the Pupillage Gateway to search for vacancies and apply for pupillage. However, certain qualified solicitors are in many cases exempt from applying through the Gateway – instead, it’s possible to apply directly to chambers with a CV and detailed covering letter.

Direct Applications

Some chambers prefer to receive applications directly as an alternative to applying through the Pupillage Gateway. Use our Direct Pupillage Applications Guide to help you stand out and make a good first impression with a direct application.


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