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Pupillage FAQs

We are a pupil orientated set and have always been so. 2DRJ regards its pupils as an integral part of the running and growth of chambers. We therefore take the recruitment of pupils extremely seriously.

We encourage applications from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences.

This article is intended to give potential applicants information on the most frequently asked questions. We hope it is useful and will encourage you to apply for pupillage with us. Good luck to all those applying for pupillage this year.

I do not have a strong academic history and have previously been told this will hold me back from a career at the Bar, is this true?

Members of chambers have a range of educational backgrounds, with some having first class degrees, others having attended Oxbridge and Russel Group universities, some having failed their A levels and others having came to the Bar late in their careers.

Academic ability is one of 8 areas we assess an application on. Academics alone will not determine whether you are selected for interview. We are interested in applicants with potential to build the skills to become an effective advocate.

If academics are an area that you know you are likely to perform weakest in, consider where else you can strengthen your application.

Will I be ruled out if I have not completed a mini-pupillage?

During the covid-19 pandemic, it was extremely difficult to find mini-pupillages. We are aware of this and that mini-pupillages are only just now, slowly returning.

A mini-pupillage can be beneficial as it will give you some insight into life at the Bar, and the day-to-day life as a barrister, as well as the practicalities of court work. We encourage pupillage applicants to gain this experience where they can.

However, you will certainly not be ruled out on the basis that you have not completed a mini-pupillage. Legal experience is one area of our assessment criteria, and we look at a range of experiences to fulfil this.

If I was unsuccessful last year, is it worth me applying again?

Absolutely! It is absolutely worth you applying to us again. Pupillage applications are hugely competitive, and it can be the finest of margins between people which determine whether they get through to the next round or not. Often, in the space of a year, gaps in an application would have been filled and candidates will gain more experiences or have the time to review and reflect to have a better chance of pupillage the following year.

As Samuel Johnson once said: “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance”. We do not rule out applicants who have applied to us before and encourage those who have not been successful to review and reflect on what they could improve before applying to us again. This is one of the reasons we consider providing feedback to be so important. The application forms are redacted to remove names before marking, so the marker will be unaware if yours is a repeat application in any event.

We have previously recruited pupils who were unsuccessful in their applications from previous years both for pupillage and mini pupillages.

What is the most common piece of feedback you give on applications?

We are not a chambers that rejects by silence. Every applicant will hear from us, whether they have been successful or not and we try to give every applicant at least some feedback.

The most common feedback given is around the competency questions. Think about the skill that is being tested and asked about. How can you best evidence this? The example you give may not always be from an experience within the legal sector. We are interested in skills and potential, not how many tickboxes you can mark off. The most common piece of feedback given is to remember the STAR method when answering competency based questions, think - Situation Task Action Result.

How many recent pupils have got tenancy?

In the past 5 years, all pupils, save for one, have been offered tenancy.

We do not have a set number of tenancies that we offer each year. We do not for example say, we’ve recruited two pupils, but only one of you will get tenancy. We deliberately take this approach as consider it far more important that you are able to get through pupillage, without being in a constant battle with the other pupil. The principal aim and objective of pupillage is the education and training of pupils in order to prepare them for a successful career at the Bar. If you are good enough to get tenancy, you will get it.

What work can I expect to undertake as a pupil?

In your first six, you will have at least one supervisor. They may have a mixed practice or specialise in either crime or family. Your experience as a pupil will not be limited to your supervisor’s work. We try to arrange for pupils to shadow a number of barristers in chambers to get a variety of experiences and exposure, as well as where we can, to shadow at least one judge.

In the last month before getting on your feet, you will mainly follow more junior members of chambers to gain experience of the work that you are likely to be doing once on your feet.

First six pupils will also be invited to weekly advocacy sessions and receive ongoing feedback from their pupil supervisor. Advocacy sessions are primarily focussed on criminal advocacy, as we believe that this is the best way to train, but there are also targeted family advocacy sessions. The head of pupil advocacy is Joe Davidson. Joe is supported by other members of chambers to ensure there is variety of people giving feedback on advocacy, including members of chambers who sit part-time as judges.

Chambers has a pupil liaison officer, who is a recent tenant that provide support to pupils in addition to their pupil supervisors. Conversations with the pupil liaison officer are confidential and our pupil liaison officer takes no part in the tenancy process.

In the second six months, pupils can expect to receive instructions to appear in court on a daily basis. The work is likely to consist of criminal and family matters including briefs in the magistrates' courts, family courts and some matters in the Crown Court.

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