Many chambers use Pupillage Gateway, which is a standardised online application form. The system will allow you to apply to a maximum of 12 chambers each year. However other chambers will provide their own application form through their websites.
Most chambers recruit for pupillages a year in advance, meaning that if you are looking to start in September if a particular year, you should look to apply over the spring. We’ve pulled together five things you need to know about filling in your application form.
1. Don’t act on one person’s advice
Seek advice from lots of people in your network in order to create a balanced and well informed application. Get help from barristers, careers advisers, fellow students and friends. And you can always call us here at Bright Network.
Advice may be contradictory, but use common sense to make sure you are sending an application that is well-written and shows off your best skills and competencies.
Organisation skills are key in this profession, so prove that you have them by getting your application in early.
2. Be concise and honest
Use the word limit as a guidance, not a target. Barristers read through heaps of applications, often in their free time, so they want to hear about why you are a great fit for the role in a concise and succinct manner. Be clear about your strong points, but don’t over-exaggerate. If you have done a mini-pupillage, be honest about your experience. These are short programmes and barristers are familiar with what they involve, so don’t make out that you took on more than you did.
3. Apply in advance of the deadline
Be ahead of the game. Applications are often reviewed on a rolling basis, and if you stand out early on in the process, you’re already on the front foot. If it’s a postal application, you want to be sure that it arrives on time, so send it well in advance.
If it’s an online application, don’t leave it up until the last minute as systems can be prone to crashing just before the deadline when many applicants log on. Organisation skills are key in this profession, so prove that you have them by getting your application in early.
4. Chambers and areas of practice
Write about specific practice areas that the chambers you are applying to specialise in. Be specific, and talk about why you are interested in that area. When giving reasons for your choice, use the opportunity to show that you know about their ethos and culture, and refer to cases they have worked on. Evidence the research you’ve done on the firm, and show why you are a good fit. Don’t make it obvious that you are sending out blanket applications by including work experience that isn’t relevant.
It sounds blindingly obvious to say it, but it’s absolutely crucial. Spelling and grammatical errors are easy to fall down on, and also gives reviewers an instant reason to eliminate candidates. Reading your application aloud is a fantastic way to ensure it is well written, and ask a friend to quickly glance over it as they are bound to notice a couple of errors that you haven’t spotted.
And remember, to be a successful barrister, you'll need an excellent eye for detail and accuracy, so proofreading really is rather essential.
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