We aim to make pupillage a challenging, enjoyable and interesting time. It is in our interests to ensure that the best possible pupillage is offered in order to prepare pupils for the demands of tenancy. We were delighted to have been named Chambers of the Year by Legal Cheek in 2021.
Recruitment is currently closed for applications, it will open again in January 2024.
The format of a twelve month pupillage
Pupillage is divided into two periods of six months each, commonly known as the first and second six, respectively. The first six, i.e. the “non-practising” part, is spent working with pupil supervisors and other members of chambers.
Your working hours will generally be 9:00am to 6:30pm Monday to Friday subject to any other arrangements you make with your pupil supervisor. It is inevitable that pupillage entails a very steep learning curve, particularly during the first six months. You will need evenings and weekends to recuperate. Pupillage is a marathon and not a sprint! During the second six you will still work under the supervision of a pupil supervisor, but you will also have your own cases and court appearances. You will begin to work directly with solicitors and chambers’ clerks. This is the next major step to becoming a fully-fledged barrister. Starting your own work is exciting, but you are not expected to manage alone. Asking questions (even if only where to stand) is part of the process! We aim to give pupils as broad an exposure to the different aspects of chambers’ work as possible. Of course, you may already have your own ideas about which areas of law interest you, but we urge you to keep an open mind. You will find as you start to see law in practice that your interests evolve and change. You will also see how skills and knowledge acquired in relation to one area of law, are often invaluable in another. So, what does this mean in practice for you? You will spend four months with three different pupil supervisors, all of whom will have slightly different practices and levels of seniority.
You’ll find that much of the first three months is spent with your pupil supervisor, but then gradually you will start undertaking work for other members of chambers and accompanying them to court. The aim is to ensure that you not only have the broadest training possible, but also that a wide number of people in chambers have the opportunity to meet you and you, them. By the end of the twelve months you should have met and worked with a broad cross-section of tenants from our silks to our most junior tenants. Whilst you should receive informal feedback continuously throughout pupillage, every three months you will have a short meeting with the Head of Pupillage to discuss your progress and any concerns you may have. You should not be in the dark at any stage during your pupillage either about how you are performing or what lies ahead during the rest of your pupillage. Pupillage is intellectually demanding and we believe that your efforts should be directed to acquiring the necessary skills to become a good barrister, as opposed to worrying unnecessarily. To this end, we also have a mentoring system. A mentor is appointed every year to provide pupils with pastoral care on a confidential basis where appropriate. In addition we have a welfare officer in chambers who will offer support to pupils and provide another confidential avenue through which pupils can seek advice where appropriate.
Pupillage Award and earnings
All pupils taken on for twelve months will receive an award totalling £60,000, comprising a grant of £45,000 payable in regular installments throughout the pupillage together with guaranteed earnings in the second six months of pupillage of £15,000.
Pupils will be entitled to retain any fees earned on their own work during the second six months, but will be expected to pay nominal clerks’ fees on such earnings. The guarantee is applied at the end of the second six by determining the fees billed by the pupil during the period and making a payment of any shortfall on £15,000. Up to £10,000 may be drawn down by way of loan before the commencement of pupillage for the purpose of assisting with tuition fees and the like. Occasionally, pupils may do work for pupil supervisors and other tenants of value to them in their practices. As such work is also intended to be part of the training of the pupil, the award is generally considered to cover any entitlement to payment which might otherwise arise. However, during the second six months, in the absolute discretion of the tenant concerned, pupils may on occasions and by prior arrangement with the current pupil supervisor, undertake work for tenants in respect of which separate payment will be made.
What we expect from you
Even as a pupil you contribute to the perception of chambers and its working atmosphere.
We expect you to comply with the Bar Council’s regulations and to obtain both a partial (at the end of your first six) and full practising certificate at the end of twelve months should you be offered a tenancy. Even as a pupil you contribute to the perception of chambers and its working atmosphere. Consequently, you are expected to be punctual, dress appropriately (to meet a client or attend court) and preserve clients’ confidentiality at all times. You must also deal with all chambers’ staff regardless of their role in a courteous and professional manner.
What you can expect from us
A thorough, but exciting training in a sympathetic atmosphere.
In short, a thorough, but exciting training in a sympathetic atmosphere, during which you will be assessed as a potential tenant of chambers. The idea of a year long interview is not one to which we wholeheartedly subscribe. What we want to see is your potential to learn (sometimes from your mistakes) and to develop good working relationships with a wide variety of people. No two judges, witnesses or clients are the same and you need to be able to relate to all of them quickly. We will invite you to come to chambers long before your first day of pupillage. All successful candidates are invited to an event in Chambers the year before they start pupillage, the aim of which is to reassure rather than alarm! However, we also invite new pupils to visit chambers before they start to meet our Head of Pupillage, Joint Chief Executives, Senior Clerk and their pupil supervisor and mentor. This is to let them see how Chambers works and who to go to if their pupil supervisor is unavailable. We hope that you will find Chambers’ layout and ethos means that you can always find someone to talk to whether it’s about a case or a problem. Most problems should be capable of informal resolution. However, if that is not possible, you should raise the matter with your pupil supervisor and/or the Head of Pupillage, who will then take appropriate action in accordance with Chambers’ relevant policy.
You will be provided with the following documentation before you start pupillage by Martin Dyke (Chambers Joint Chief Executive), so you are aware of how Chambers is run and what you can expect:
- Pupillage Policy
- Equality and Diversity Policy
- Reasonable Adjustments Policy
- Parental Rights Policy
- Data Security Policy
- Harassment and Victimisation Policy
Tenancy and how it works
The decision about tenancy is taken by Chambers as a whole and is subject to commercial conditions at the time. Where possible, we aim to give pupils a firm indication by the end of June about their prospects of securing a tenancy subject to the satisfactory completion of pupillage.
This means that if you have to leave us, you have plenty of time to secure a third six pupillage in another chambers. During your pupillage you will be given feedback on every piece of written work you undertake and a corresponding written report will be sent to the Head of Pupillage and your pupil supervisor (unless the work was set by your pupil supervisor). The work will be graded in accordance with fixed criteria to ensure uniformity and objectivity. Around the beginning of June, interim reports on your performance will be prepared and sent to chambers as a whole by your pupil supervisors along with a recommendation about your application for tenancy. The contents of the reports will be discussed with you before they are sent to the rest of Chambers, so you have an opportunity to comment. A report will also be provided to Chambers by the Senior Clerk, which will include any feedback received from solicitors on your performance and the clerking team’s views on how you have worked with them. Again, you will be told about the feed-back both from solicitors and clerks before it is circulated around Chambers. The reports will then be discussed at a Chambers’ meeting, after which a decision will be taken about your tenancy application.
How to apply for pupillage
We offer up to two pupillages for the period of twelve months starting in October every other year, provided that the candidates from whom we receive applications meet our criteria for selection. These include ability, both practical and academic, personality and aptitude, together with the commitment and flexibility to face the challenges of a changing and demanding profession. We choose pupils on merit alone and do not discriminate on grounds of ethnic origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, religion or disability. As a Chambers, we support the objectives of the Bar Council Equality and Diversity Code and try to ensure that our recruitment policies are in line with the Bar Council’s “Fair Recruitment Guide 2015 (A Best Practice Guide for the Bar).” Applications for twelve month pupillages should be made through the Pupillage Gateway. Chambers will confirm annually whether it intends to recruit twelve month pupils. Vacancies for third six pupillages will be advertised on Chambers’ website. Selection of third six pupils will usually take place in June/July for the following October. Prospective candidates either for twelve month or third six pupillages should feel free to contact our Joint Chief Executive, Martin Dyke for further information. The aim of our interviews is to enable you to demonstrate your potential as a barrister and to assess our potential as your future colleagues. We do not expect to find the finished product, nor do we wish the process to be any more stressful than it already is. We have all sat the other side of an interview table (some of us more recently than others!) and want to ensure that whatever the outcome you have had an opportunity to show us what you can do. Should you wish, we are happy to provide feedback on your performance in the hope that this will assist you with other interviews if your application to us is unsuccessful.
Applications for pupillages should be made online through the Pupillage Gateway.