Mini Pupillage – A Free Guide to Mini Pupillage
Mini pupillages are the best way to gain first-hand knowledge of the barrister profession. This page will provide an overview of mini pupillages, including how to strengthen your application and make the most of your time.
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What is a Mini Pupillage?
To get ahead and establish whether a career at the Bar is right for you, it is important to secure as much legal work experience as possible. An excellent way to experience barrister life first-hand is to complete a mini pupillage. Many chambers offer them.
A mini pupillage will give you the opportunity to shadow a barrister in their daily practices and will give you a good insight into the profession. In addition, it will give you a feel for the work ethic, culture and ethos of a particular chambers. You may also be able to attend hearings in court.
How Long Will a Mini Pupillage Last?
The length of a mini pupillage can vary greatly from one day through to two weeks. Typically, they run for three to four days. Visit individual chambers websites to find out what they have on offer.
What are the Advantages of Completing a Mini Pupillage?
Undertaking a mini pupillage 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 are likely to see this as an example of the attitude you will bring to the chambers if you were awarded a pupillage. Think of it as a trial session or a pre-application interview – and act accordingly.
Mini pupillages are also advantageous in that that they enable you to:
- Determine whether a career at the Bar is right for you
- Gain genuine insight into life as a barrister in a particular chambers and the legal profession more generally
- 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
- Strengthen your CV and future pupillage applications
- 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
Who Can Apply for Mini Pupillage?
Opportunities to complete mini pupillages prior to university are rare. Chambers are generally more interested in taking on mini pupils who are:
It differs from chambers to chambers, so make sure you visit individual chambers websites to find out exactly who is eligible to apply.
When Should I Apply for Mini Pupillage?
When to apply for mini pupillages very much depends on the chambers. Some chambers offer mini pupillages throughout the year, whereas others may only offer them at certain times of the year.
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Where Should I Apply for Mini Pupillage?
It is important to select chambers that specialise in an area of law that you are interested in, and potentially want to practice in. Furthermore, when you are completing mini pupillage applications, it is easier to answer questions and genuinely explain your interest if it relates to an area of law that you specifically enjoy.
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 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 for pupillage at.
It is also important to think ahead. If there is a chambers that you are keen to apply for pupillage at, then it is a good idea to complete a mini pupillage with them first. It shows your legitimate interest in that chambers. In addition, they can get a feel for your work ethic and persona before you have applied. 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.
How Do I Apply for Mini Pupillage?
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
In the absence of an application form, it would still be a good idea to cover this information in any mini pupillage covering letters you write.
Completing a mini pupillage applications in many respects, is similar to completing applications for pupillage. We therefore suggest that you take a look at our top tips for pupillage applications page more information and top tips for completing applications to chambers.
Interviewing for Mini Pupillage
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 mini pupillage 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 further insight.
What Should I Expect From a Mini Pupillage?
Typical duties whilst undertaking a mini pupillage may include:
- Shadowing a barrister
- 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.
Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Mini Pupillage
- Don’t be late! Practice good time management and timely arrivals at both chambers and court
- Don’t clock watch! Take a flexible approach to your work and show willingness to stay on and go the extra mile
- Carry a notepad and pen at all times. Keeping a note of court events, client meetings and assigned tasks demonstrates proactiveness and engagement
- Be enthusiastic and confident! Don’t be afraid to ask relevant and well timed questions to demonstrate interest and engagement
- Dress smartly and appropriately!
- Read up on your assigned barrister. Being able to discuss their past work and cases will help to build rapport
- If your barrister is involved in a court case, ask to review any associated bundles and documents so you have a better understanding of the various facts
- Demonstrate professionalism at all times, whether you are in court, at a meeting, and attending chambers social events
- Demonstrate proactiveness and offer out your services where appropriate. Even during quiet patches, there should be things to do, whether it’s more administrative based tasks at chambers or reading up on cases/legal issues
- Complete every piece of assigned work to the best of your ability. Watch out for your spelling, grammar and punctuation. An eye for detail is key
- Keep a diary! It will be helpful when making pupillage applications to recount experiences during your mini pupillage
- Finally, stay in touch! If there were barristers that you built up a good rapport with, drop them a line of thanks following the mini pupillage and stay in touch.
Will I Be Assessed During My Mini Pupillage?
Depending on the chambers, there is a possibility that your mini pupillage may be assessed. The assessment may involve completing, for example, an oral and/or written task which is set and marked internally at the chambers. Assessed mini pupillages tend to be offered more to students who are also applying for pupillage in the same year.
Chambers may also offer non-assessed mini pupillages to a wider spectrum of applicants, from students who are not as far on in their legal studies through to graduates considering a career change.
If the mini pupillage is assessed, then it is likely that the chambers will use it as an opportunity to interview you for pupillage. You could consider such a mini pupillage to be an early application to the chambers. Therefore, it is important to give any mini pupillage your best efforts. Immerse yourself and work hard to get the most out of the experience!
Will a Mini Pupillage 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 mini pupillages on your CV to demonstrate commitment to the profession and a strong desire to pursue a career at the Bar.
As stated above, some chambers will expect you to complete a mini pupillage at their chambers prior to considering you for pupillage. By contrast, other chambers will not make this a prerequisite. It is therefore important to visit individual chambers websites to see what their exact policy is on this point.
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.