What is a Mini Pupillage?
Undertaking a mini pupillage is one of the best ways to gain first-hand knowledge of the barrister profession. This page will provide an overview of what they are, what to expect during a placement and more.
What is a Mini Pupillage?
A mini pupillage is a short work experience placement that involves shadowing a barrister, possibly with the option of attending hearings in court. The length of a mini pupillage can vary from one day to two weeks. Typically, they run for three to four days.
Why Complete a Mini Pupillage?
Completing a mini pupillage gives you a vital insight into the barrister profession and a feel for the work ethic, culture and ethos of a particular chambers. It also gives you the opportunity to leave a positive impression on the chambers. This is crucial if you are considering applying for a pupillage. If the chambers see your potential as a productive and motivated mini pupil they’re likely to look favourably on your pupillage application afterwards.
Mini pupillages are also advantageous in that that they enable you to:
- Determine whether a career at the Bar is right for you
- Gain insight into the specific practice areas of a barrister (for example, criminal or commercial practice) and what is right for you
- Broaden your network and make vital contacts with experienced barristers
- Obtain constructive feedback on various tasks performed along with your overall performance
- Move forward and apply for pupillage at the chambers in question (for some chambers a mini pupillage is a prerequisite to applying for pupillage.)
- Demonstrate your dedication to pursuing a career at the Bar
What to Expect From a Mini Pupillage
Typical duties whilst undertaking a mini pupillage may include:
- Attending conferences and meetings with clients and solicitors
- Observing barristers in court
- Reviewing any relevant paperwork (bundles and draft skeleton arguments etc) relating to a barrister’s caseload
- Completing administrative based tasks
- Carrying out legal research
- Drafting documents such as emails and letters
- Attending any chamber’s social events, if invited
The exact structure of any mini pupillage is difficult to predict and, to a large extent, will be dictated by the caseload of the barrister you are shadowing. For example, if they are particularly busy, your tasks may be quite varied and exciting, but if they are less busy, it may be more challenging to find tasks you can get involved with.
Some mini pupillages may expect you to take a short assessment at the end, possibly as a summary test of what you have learned over your experience at the chambers, whereas others may simply expect feedback.
Who Can Apply for Mini Pupillage?
Opportunities to complete mini pupillages before university are rare. Chambers are generally more interested in taking on mini pupils who are:
Where Should I Apply?
It is important to select chambers that specialise in an area of law that you are interested in.
You can narrow down your mini pupillage search by focusing on:
- Areas of legal practice specific to the chambers which are of particular interest
- The location of chambers
- The size of the chambers
- The feel of the chambers (for example, is it modern, traditional or more international?)
You may consider applying for mini pupillages at a variety of chambers. This will allow you to gain a broad spectrum of experience in a few different areas of the law. In this way, you can genuinely determine which areas of the law you are best suited to and as a result which particular chambers you will apply to for pupillage.
It is also important to think ahead. If there is a chambers that you are keen to apply to for pupillage, it’s a good idea to complete a mini pupillage with them first. A lot of chambers select their pupillage interview candidates in favor of those who have successfully completed a mini pupillage, even if they do not make it a formal prerequisite of their pupillage application process.
Mini Pupillage Deadlines
What Does a Mini Pupillage Application Involve?
Applications for mini pupillage are usually made by way of either:
- A CV and covering letter; or
- an application form.
Either way, it is important to visit the websites of your target chambers for exact application details. If it is not clear from the website, you could give the chambers a call to find out more.
If you are required to complete an application form, you may be required to explain to the chambers:
- Why you want to undertake a mini pupillage
- Why you have chosen the particular chambers
- Which aspects of being a barrister appeal to you
- Why you think you would make a good barrister in the future
Take a look at our Mini Pupillage Applications guide for more information on applying for mini pupillages
The Interview Process
Once you have submitted your mini pupillage application, you might be required to attend an interview. Some chambers make interviews compulsory in their selection process, however, others base their decision solely on your application.
If the post you are applying for is assessed and has the possibility of leading to pupillage, then an interview is likely.
Attending a mini pupillage interview is, in many respects, similar to attending an interview for pupillage. We therefore suggest that you take a look at our Pupillage Interview page for insight.
Will it Help Me to Secure Pupillage?
In short, yes. When applying for pupillage, you will be expected to demonstrate at least one relevant mini pupillage. Some chambers will be looking to see as many as three or four on your CV to demonstrate commitment to the profession and a strong desire to pursue a career at the Bar.
How Many Mini Pupillages Should I Complete?
There’s no strict rule for how many mini pupillages you should complete. Emer Murphy, an experienced barrister at Wilberforce Chambers told The Lawyer Portal, ‘there is no magic number [of mini pupillages] to do, but I did 4-5 in my current practice area.
By all means, do more in other practice areas if you wish, but there is no need to put those down on your application.’
You can read Emer’s full case study on Barrister Case Study: Wilberforce Chambers.
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