Work experience

Mini-pupillages

Mini-pupillages are short periods of work experience, usually for one week, in a set of chambers. The format varies between chambers, but mini-pupillages generally involve shadowing a member of chambers and learning what their work involves. Mini-pupillages provide an invaluable insight into life as a barrister and may provide some useful contacts to assist you in finding pupillage. You are strongly advised to do at least one mini-pupillage before making pupillage applications and you should try to do more than one. You can apply for mini-pupillages at any stage, although you may find it difficult to obtain one if you are still at school, and some chambers require you to be studying law before you can apply.

As part of the recruitment process for pupillage, some chambers require applicants to undertake an assessed mini-pupillage, which they may use as a selection criteria. However, most chambers offer mini-pupillages which form no part of their selection process but offer you an opportunity to get a feel for the work that their barristers do. You can find out about mini-pupillages from individual chambers' websites. The Pupillages Handbook provides details of which chambers offer mini-pupillages. Most chambers ask prospective mini-pupils to apply directly with a CV and a covering letter, although some have their own application form. The student officers at the Inns of Court can provide further advice on obtaining a mini-pupillage.

The Bar Council operates a mini-pupillage hub where chambers are able to advertise current work experience opportunities for free. Click here to visit the hub.

We have recently developed some best practice guidance for chambers looking to offer mini-pupillage. Click here to view the guidance.

Marshalling

Marshalling involves sitting with a judge, usually for up to a week. It provides and opportunity to see barristers making submissions in court and to discuss cases with the judge. The Inns of Court help students on the BPTC and those trying to find pupillage to arrange marshalling.

Pro-bono work

Undertaking voluntary legal work ('pro-bono' work) is a great way to get experience of advising people on legal issues and representing them in tribunals. There are a few organisations which take on volunteers for this role, including Citizens' Advice Bureaux and the Free Representation Unit. You can volunteer for the Free Representation Unit (FRU) from the third year of your LLB student or during your GDL.

Public speaking

Working as a barrister involves public speaking, and chambers will look for evidence of your public speaking skills when you apply for pupillage. Most universities run debating and mooting societies. Mooting requires students to make submissions on a legal point as if they were in court. You should also look out for mooting competitions, success at which will look good on your CV. Your law school will run moots and there are many regional and national mooting competitions. There are also mock trial competitions, including an annual competition between students from all of the BPTC providers. There are of course many other ways of gaining public speaking experience, including acting, teaching or involvement in your student union.

Paid work

Paid work related to the law can also be an excellent way of gaining relevant experience. Students may have part-time jobs or carry out full-time work during periods when they are not studying, such as paralegal work with firms of solicitors, helping to manage cases, outdoor clerking or taking notes in court.

Other work experience

Many chambers are interested to see that candidates have experience of the real world, so work in the voluntary sector, teaching and in non-legal industries such as finance can be invaluable.

 

If you are a non-EEA national, you may need a visa to undertake work-experience in the UK. The Bar Council can help with this so please click here for more details.