Mini-pupillages are the first step on a long road. Though not a prerequisite for pupillage, without having some ‘minis’ under your belt, you run the risk of being disadvantaged in the pupillage application process. For the purposes of your application, a mini-pupillage demonstrates a commitment to law, a curiosity in relevant practice areas, and, often, an affinity with the chambers to which you are applying.
So, having attained your first mini-pupillage, how can you maximise its value?
Mini-Pupillage Tip 1: Ask questions
In my experience, the barristers who supervise mini-pupils are obliging when it comes to fielding questions and often invite them. This is a time to ask about points of law, about relevant practice areas and even about the lifestyle of barrister practising in that field.
There is of course a balance to be struck; there is quite literally a premium on barristers’ time, the more so when supervising mini-pupils. If in doubt, stick to this rule: only ask questions for which you could not find the answers elsewhere. For example, do not ask how many pupils the chambers takes on each year – you can find this online in a matter of seconds – but do ask about the form of training and assessments pupils undertake or about how much work a junior tenant might expect in a certain practice area.
Mini-Pupillage Tip 2: Seek out tasks
There are mini-pupillages and there are mini-pupillages. Or so they say.
During your mini-pupillage you should try to seek out tasks where you are exercising a skill required of a barrister. Consider the two following examples from a pupillage application form, both describing what the applicant did on a mini-pupillage:
“Read papers relating to a personal injury claim arising out of a road traffic accident.”
“Drafted a Defence to a personal injury claim arising out of a road traffic accident.”
The second reads much better because it mirrors an activity done by a barrister. You may have read the papers for a case and have had discussion with your supervisor filled with ground-breaking legal analysis. That is of course useful for your development as a lawyer, but not for your application to be a pupil.
If you want your mini-pupillage to be as productive as possible, do have that discussion with your supervisor but also try to create something tangible that you can point to as evidence of your aptitude at a later date.
Mini-Pupillage Tip 3: Leave a good impression
This comes down to common sense. Be professional. This means turning up on time; being polite and thankful for the opportunity without grovelling; and being respectful of your supervisor’s space.
A follow up email to say thank you can go a long way. Leave them with the same impression of keen professionalism that you would want to convey at a pupillage interview later down the line.