Malcolm Glover, law student, president of Roehampton University Law Society, and aspiring barrister explains what a mini-pupillage involves and how to get the most out of the experience.
The allure of the Bar has caught your eye and has led you to seek a mini-pupillage.
A mini-pupillage usually involves directly reporting into a barrister and could include observing hearings in court, reading relevant paperwork (e.g. bundles, draft skeleton arguments and brief summaries), and demonstrating relevant legal research on a particular area of law your supervising practitioner specialises in.
Undertaking a mini-pupillage helps aspiring barristers in determining whether a career at the Bar is right for them. You‘ll be able to widen and diversify your network by forming professional relationships with experienced and junior practitioners alike.
Depending on the type of set you complete your mini–pupillage at, you may be ‘assessed’, with constructive feedback provided on a specific task performed in written or oral advocacy.
Completing a mini-pupillage demonstrates a level of assertiveness and dedication to pursuing a career at the Bar, which other experiences cannot substitute.
Who Can Apply for mini-pupillage?
Golden tickets to complete a mini-pupillage before university are scarce, with competition now more fierce than ever.
Due to the sheer amount of interest, generally chambers are interested in taking on mini pupils who are:
- Studying law at university;
- Studying for a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL);
- Studying the Bar Practice Course (BPC); or
It’s imperative to stay organised and updated with chambers websites as eligibility, deadlines and the application processes can differ from chambers to chambers.
An Excel spreadsheet taking note of all deadlines with a short, focused list of chambers of interest is a great starting point in helping you stay on top of application deadlines!
What can you expect?
The exact structure of any mini–pupillage is difficult to foresee, as it‘s dictated by the caseload or area of law of the barrister you’re shadowing. If they’re busy, your tasks may be diverse and exciting. Alternatively, if they’re having a quieter period, it may be more challenging to find tasks you can get stuck in.
Some chambers may expect you to undertake a short assessment at the end of your mini-pupillage as a summary test of what you have learnt. Other sets may simply ask for feedback.
How many mini-pupillages should I complete?
There is no magic number. The real question is ‘how many evidential mini-pupillages should I put on my future Pupillage Gateway application?’
Hypothetically, you may seek a future pupillage in construction law. One Mini Pupillage in Construction law might be more beneficial than five in areas of law which are not relevant to the area you wish to practice in as a future pupil.
Be strategic and open minded in your approach, while resisting the urge to complete all your mini-pupillages in one practice area.
It doesn’t necessarily matter where you do your mini-pupillage; what matters is that you’ve been gaining experience. Most chambers won’t expect you to have completed a mini-pupillage at their set when you apply for pupillage, as they’re aware that they only have a finite number spaces each year.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Make sure your application explains why you’re interested in visiting a particular set – this will show assertion in understanding the work of the chambers you are applying to.
Show enthusiasm during your mini-pupillage and re member that 55% communication is nonverbal.
Be professional at all times – you may come into close contact with clients, clerks and other Barristers while undertaking your mini-pupillage.
Don’t worry if you have limited legal knowledge – although you won’t be expected to be an expert in the area of law you aspire to practise in, doing some relevant research and reading through a chambers website or will be helpful.
Ask questions, but at the right time – barristers are notoriously busy, sometimes less is more so make sure to read the room and ask questions at an appropriate time.
Take notes on your mini-pupillage – these notes will be useful to refer to when asked in the future ‘what exactly did you do on your mini-pupillage?’.
And finally, be yourself! – there is a good reason why you have been successful in getting a mini-pupillage. There is no need to be anyone apart from yourself.