To submit an application outside of the Pupillage Gateway, you will need to structure your CV and pupillage covering letter in a way that’s easy to read and makes you memorable.

What Are Direct Pupillage Applications?

Direct pupillage applications are those made outside of completing a standard application form through the traditional Pupillage Gateway route. A direct application is preferred by most chambers as an alternative to the Bar Council’s Pupillage Gateway portal, and involves submitting a custom CV and cover letter directly to chambers where you would like to undertake a pupillage.

All pupillage vacancies have to be advertised on the Pupillage Gateway. Those vacancies advertised on the Gateway that require a separate application will clearly specify this information.


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Pupillage Application Cover Letter

You can find pupillage application cover letter examples online, which will give you a starting point for creating your own cover letters. Online examples of good pupillage cover letters will give you an idea of how to structure your own, what to include and provide a benchmark for what makes a stand out cover letter.

You should tailor each cover letter to the chambers you are applying to. Do not use the same cover letter for every application. Your cover letter has to demonstrate what has attracted you to a particular chambers – it’s this that will help your pupillage cover letter stand out.

As a general rule, your pupillage cover letter should include:

  • A short introduction about you – dedicate approximately 100 words to this section.
  • Your reasons for wanting to practise law and in particular, your motivation for wanting to be a barrister – dedicate approximately 150/200 words to this section.
  • An explanation of what attracted you to apply for your chosen chambers – dedicate approximately 200 words to this section.
  • How your skill set adds value to the chambers you have chosen – dedicate approximately 200 words to this section.

When writing your cover letter, make sure you don’t waste words with cliched phrases like ‘I am the best’ or using reinforcers like ‘hugely passionate’ or ‘extremely dedicated’. Be clear, be concise, and most importantly, provide hard evidence of your skills using real-life examples.

When you are describing why you want to be a barrister, stick to the job characteristics and what appeals to you about the profession. In the section about why you are applying to your chosen chambers, demonstrate that you have good knowledge of what the chambers stands for and its culture.

In the section outlining your skills, stick to your academic qualifications and the law- and non- law-related experiences you have under your belt because this will help to support your aptitude for the legal profession. Don’t exaggerate and make sure you back up what you say with examples.

Quick Pupillage Cover Letter Tips

  • Try to establish a contact name so that you can personalise your letter
  • Tailor each letter to the job and individual chambers in question to demonstrate genuine interest
  • Try to avoid repeating examples you use in your answers to application questions
  • Use a tool like Grammarly to check for grammatical errors

Pupillage Application CV

Your pupillage CV should be submitted in a format specified by the chambers to which you are applying – if applicable.

You should:

  • Restrict your pupillage CV to a maximum of two A4 sheets of paper
  • Customise your CV specifically for each chambers you apply to
  • Ensure that any statements you make are accurate because you will be asked about them
  • Use subheadings and bullet points where possible to break up chunks of text
  • Keep your CV on point – don’t waffle

If a chambers does not provide a specific CV format or details of the information you should include, then you should stick to a traditional format when submitting direct pupillage applications.

A traditional CV pupillage application should include:

Your Personal Details

Provide your name, address, an email address and a contact number.

A Personal Statement

Keep your personal statement to a paragraph in length and write it in the third person. Your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase yourself and demonstrate your key skills, your personal qualities and how you can add value to the chambers you are applying to do your pupillage with.

Academic Qualifications

Outline your academic qualifications in reverse chronological order – starting with the most recent. Make sure you include the type of exam you took, your grades and the academic institutions where you obtained your grades.

Work Experience

Add your work experience, starting with the most recent, and work backwards to your earliest work experience. For each work experience placement, include the following information:

  • The employer’s name and address
  • The dates of your placement
  • Your responsibilities and achievements during the placement
  • The skills you acquired and how these transfer into a career as a barrister
  • Relevant Skills

Outline any skills that are relevant to those of a barrister. If you have IT skills or speak any other languages, you should include these as they are highly sought after across the Bar.

Relevant Achievements

Your pupillage CV should feature details of any relevant prizes, awards, scholarships and other notable achievements. These can be academic, sporting or something else.

Extracurricular Activities

If you participate in extracurricular activities or you have hobbies that you feel are relevant to your pupillage application, include them. This could be a debating club, public speaking or research work.


If you can, include details of two people you can direct chambers to for a reference – provided that you have their consent to list them as a reference. Where possible, provide one academic and one non-academic reference.

Quick Pupillage CV Tips

  • Restrict your CV to a maximum of two pages of A4
  • Customise your CV for each application to stand out
  • Ensure that any statements you make are accurate. Inconsistencies may be picked up
  • Follow the requested format (if specified) of the chambers
  • Where appropriate, use subheadings and bullet points
  • Don’t waffle! Keep your pupillage CV focused and to the point

Pupillage Application Questions

In addition to submitting a CV and covering letter, you could be asked to answer some specific questions, requested by chambers, to support your application. For example:

  • Why have you chosen to apply to our chambers?
  • What can you bring to our chambers?
  • How does your personality fit our values and culture?

Answering these questions could be a way to demonstrate your written advocacy skills by being creative and persuasive with your answers.

If you are faced with having to answer supporting questions as part of a direct pupillage application, remember the following:

Make sure you answer every part of the question. If you are asked ‘how, what and why?’, ensure that you cover each of these aspects.

If a question is specific to your skills, make sure you back-up any skills you list with examples of how you have used them and the result of you using them.

Where appropriate, refer to any legal or non-legal work experience, demonstrating any transferable skills you have acquired.

Additional Pupillage Application Tips

Focusing on the structure and detail of your CV and covering letter is important, but make sure to check it for spelling and grammatical errors. Equally, ensure that your application is addressed to the right chambers.

You can get a friend or family member to proofread all of your CVs and covering letters before you send them out. Alternatively, you could have your CVs and covering letters checked by a professional CV writer.

Make sure you keep track of your applications and deadlines to ensure that you don’t miss any, and to avoid sending the wrong application to the wrong chambers. Creating a timeline is a useful way to monitor the status of your applications.


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