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Pupillage

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!

For more specific information, you can also take a look at:

The 4 Stages of Pupillage Applications

Pupillage Paper Application

Pupillage Interview

Learn about the Pupillage Gateway

What is Pupillage?

Pupillage is the final step towards qualification as a barrister. You can commence it on completion of:

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:

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.

Third six

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:

Your decision will also centre around:

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:

This thorough research can also be used:

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.

For everything you need to know about submitting applications, visit our Pupillage Gateway Applications page.

Applications Direct to Barristers Chambers

Some barristers chambers, having advertised their opportunities via the Pupillage Gateway, prefer applications to be made directly to them, either via:

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 chambers’ 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

What is the Pupillage Application Process?

Take a look at our free guide on The 4 Stages of Pupillage Applications for more details about how to progress with a pupillage application.

Pupillage Paper Application Free Guide

Visit our page on Pupillage Paper Application for top tips on completing applications forms and CVs.

When Should I Apply?

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:

Exactly when you submit your applications within the above time frames, depends on the route via which you are applying:

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)

Step 3 – Attend Pupillage Interviews

Step 4 – Offers made

Learn about the Pupillage Gateway
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