Thinking about applying for pupillage? This section details the application process through the Pupillage Gateway, how to stand out at your pupillage interviews, as well as providing a step-by-step guide to pupillage applications. Get ahead today!
Want to become a barrister and applying for pupillage? You’ve come to the right place! This section will detail all you need to know about pupillage – including choosing the right chambers for you, strengthening your application and our top interview tips. Don’t forget to use the subpages to make the most of the section!
Pupillage typically lasts for one year and starts around September/October time and must be completed within five years of finishing the BPTC. It is usually completed in barristers chambers under the supervision of experienced barristers. Less commonly, it can be completed at an Authorised Training Organisation – for example, in-house at a large commercial organisation or in a law firm.
It is normally split into two periods of 6 months, called “sixes”:
The first six
During the first six (the ‘non-practicing six’) you will:
Shadow barristers, following and learning from the cases they are working on
Assist barristers in the preparation of court documents
Conduct legal research
Complete a compulsory Pupils Advocacy Course (Inns of Courts and Circuits provide the relevant training for this)
The second six
During the second six (the ‘practicing six’) you can start independently taking on your own cases. To complete the second six you must successfully complete a Practice Management Course (again, Inns of Courts and Circuits provide the relevant training for this).
It is crucial to work hard as it will encourage the barristers chambers to take you on for tenancy. On becoming a tenant, you will be eligible to practice from the chambers concerned as a fully-fledged barrister.
If, at the end of your placement, you are unsuccessful in securing tenancy, you can apply to complete a ‘third six’ at an alternative chambers. This will provide you with another opportunity to practice and develop your experience with a view to ultimately gaining tenancy at that chambers.
Choosing a Barristers Chambers
Before you even think about submitting your applications, it is crucial to think about the type of chambers that appeal to you.
Practice areas include:
The Commercial Bar
The Chancery Bar
The Common Law Bar
Construction at the Bar
The Criminal Bar
The Employment Bar
The Family Bar
The Human Rights Bar
Public Law at the Bar
Shipping and International Trade at the Bar
Media and Sports Law at the Bar
Tax Law at the Bar
Your decision will also centre around:
the size and location of chambers; and
any past legal work experience gained through mini-pupillages (or otherwise), which you particularly enjoyed.
Once you have considered these factors, you will be in a position to start compiling a list of chambers. Take a look at the Pupillage Gateway, which advertises all of the pupillage opportunities around the country. It is a great resource, and you can use this to narrow down your chambers options.
Once you have created a chambers shortlist, you can start doing further research, considering their:
High profile cases
Any other facts of particular interest
This thorough research can also be used:
to further reinforce that the chambers is a good fit for you;
to tailor and enrich any subsequent applications; and
as vital ammunition at any future interviews.
Applications to Barristers Chambers
Competition is exceptionally high. This means the application process is extremely rigorous. Chambers are typically known to offer one to three places a year.
Applications to barristers chambers are submitted in one of two ways, either via:
The Bar Standards Board stipulates that all chambers must advertise opportunities via the Pupillage Gateway. This ensures that all pupils have equal access to the opportunities available. However, whether the chambers then wish applications to be submitted via the Pupillage Gateway or via direct application to chambers is their choice.
Some barristers chambers, having advertised their opportunities via the Pupillage Gateway, prefer applications to be made directly to them, either via:
An online bespoke application form; or
A CV and covering letter.
Unlike the Pupillage Gateway, where a maximum of 12 applications can be submitted by any one applicant, for applications submitted direct to chambers, there is no such limit.
Chambers’ application forms must be downloaded direct from the chamber’s website and submitted in accordance with their instructions.
Whether you are applying via the Pupillage Gateway or direct to chambers, your application is a reflection of you, your professionalism and your commitment to law. Unless you have completed a mini-pupillage at the barristers chambers in question, your application will be your first exposure to the chambers. Therefore, it is vital to complete it to the best of your ability.
Your application creates that all-important first impression. It gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your written communication skills. It also allows you to showcase your ability to articulate yourself in a clear, concise and engaging manner. These are vital skills in becoming a barrister.
Applications may be submitted one to two years in advance of the placement commencing. This is done either via the Pupillage Gateway or via direct application to chambers.
Where you are in your academic studies will determine when you can apply, so:
Law degree students usually apply for pupillage during their final year of study; and
Non-law degree students usually apply for pupillage during their law conversion (GDL) year.
Exactly when you submit your applications within the above time frames, depends on the route via which you are applying:
Applications made via the Pupillage Gateway are usually submitted during a short window running from the January to the February in any one year (with Gateway opening in the prior November for candidates to explore the opportunities on offer). Be sure to go on to the Pupillage Gateway for exact dates/times in any one year.
Applications made direct to chambers tend to accept applications on a more ad hoc basis. See individual chambers websites for further information.
Note: If you are unsuccessful in securing pupillage in your first year of applications, don’t feel disheartened! Persevere and continue to build up as much legal work experience as possible.
How can I prepare for my Pupillage interview?
Visit our page on Pupillage Interviews to find out how to prepare – from revisiting your application to tackling legal scenarios.
What Can I Expect to Earn during Pupillage?
Financial support varies depending on the barristers chambers, its location and its practice areas. London based sets tend to offer more financial support than regional chambers. Commercial chambers typically offer a higher salary than criminal sets. You can find most of this information on the chambers’ pupillage page on their website, or on the Pupillage Gateway.
Financial support can range between £12,000 to £19,000 in some sets, to between £60,000 to £100,000 in commercial chambers in London.
Some barristers chambers also offer to financially support your completion of the BPTC.
Step-by-Step Guide to Securing Pupillage
Step 1 – Choose a Barristers Chambers
Step 2 – Submit Applications(via the Pupillage Gateway or direct application to chambers)