Whether you’re submitting your pupillage application via the Pupillage Gateway or directly to chambers, you need to pull out all the stops to give yourself an edge.
This page sets out our top tips to help you stand out from the crowd.
What Are Direct Pupillage Applications?
Depending on the chambers you are applying to, your pupillage applications will involve either:
- Completing the standard application form on the Pupillage Gateway
- Completing a bespoke application form or a CV and a covering letter if chambers don’t opt to receive applications via the Pupillage Gateway.
A direct pupillage application refers to the latter option and is preferred by many chambers as an alternative to the pupillage gateway route. Read on for tips on how to make the best impression with your pupillage applications.
Pupillage Application Cover Letters
Chambers may require you to attach a covering letter to supplement your pupillage application. Initial impact is key with this, as it’s likely to be the first part of your application that chambers will turn to.
Cover letters can take many forms but we would suggest using the following structure when targeting chambers:
- A Brief Introduction
- An explanation of your motivation to practice law and in particular, why you want to become a barrister
- What attracted you to your chosen chambers
- How your skill set fits with the chambers
- Try to establish a contact name so that you can personalise your letter.
- Tailor each letter to the job and individual chambers in question to demonstrate genuine thought processes and an appetite for the chambers in question.
Pupillage Application CVs
Some chambers may specifically state how you should format your CV and the information you should include. If, however, there is no such guidance, we would suggest using a traditional format when submitting your direct pupillage application:
Include your name, correspondence address, email address and telephone number.
This should be roughly a paragraph long and written in the third person. It is essentially your opportunity to sell yourself and positively articulate (based on your skillset, experiences (personal and work-related) and personal qualities, and why you are the best candidate for a pupillage at the chambers you’re applying for.
Education and Grades
List your most recent academic grades (along with details the relevant academic institutions) first and work backwards.
Start with your most recent experience and work backwards. For each placement, ensure you include the following details:
- Employer’s name/address
- Placement dates
- Skills acquired and how these translate to a career as a barrister.
Include, as a minimum, details of any IT skills and foreign languages spoken.
Include examples of relevant prizes, awards, scholarships and any other notable achievements, whether academic, sporting or otherwise.
Include any hobbies and interests relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Include details of two referees, but ensure you have consent from them before you add them to your CV! It is a good idea to provide one academic and one non-academic reference.
- Restrict your CV to a maximum of two pages of A4
- Avoid sending out generic CVs. Instead, take the time to customise your CV for each application. This will immediately make yours stand out from the crowd
- Be truthful. Ensure that any statements you make are accurate. Inconsistencies may be picked up during candidate screening process and at interview, jeopardising your chances of success
- If your preferred chambers specifically states how they want you to format your CV, make sure you follow that guidance
- Where appropriate, use subheadings and bullet points
- Don’t waffle! Keep your pupillage CV focused and to the point
- Ask a trusted person to proofread your CV for errors/sense/interest once it is complete
Pupillage Application Questions
Along with submitting a CV and a cover letter, you may often need to answer some application questions written by the chambers you’ve applied for. Use these questions as a way of showing off your advocacy skills. Do your best to persuade the reader and try to be creative with your answers.
To maximise your chances of success during your pupillage applications, take note of the following:
- Make sure you answer every element of each question. If you’re asked ‘why, what, how’, ensure you address each of these components
- With skills-based questions, make sure you back up any statements with relevant and interesting examples, e.g. ‘I like to be organised and lead from the front. For example, I run an annual charity cake sale which involves liaising with the charity, organising the venue, marketing the event and coordinating a team of voluntary people to bake and sell cakes on the day. Last year we raised over £1000’
- Draw on any non-legal or legal work experience where appropriate, detailing any transferable skills you have acquired
- Compile a timeline of application deadlines and work backwards. Take a look at the Pupillage Gateway to find out the opportunities available
- Take your time! Application forms cannot be rushed, so make a start on them early and do not wait until the day before the deadline to submit them
- Where the questions allow, demonstrate commercial awareness
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