Our civil pupils, Bethan Davies and Emily Slocombe, provide their top-tips on pupillage applications.
6 January 2020

Our civil pupils, Bethan Davies and Emily Slocombe, provide their top-tips on pupillage applications.

With Gateway applications closing on 7th February and some non-Gateway sets closing significantly earlier, including Parklane Plowden on 12th January, those seeking a career at the Bar currently find themselves in pupil application mania. Only 12 months ago we were both in the midst of applications, and the stress and confusion this time of year can bring is an all too recent memory. With that in mind, we here provide our six top-tips for pupillage applications. 

Know Your Audience  

Before you even start writing an application research the chambers to which you intend to apply. Make sure you know not only what their practice areas are generally, but the specific areas in which they are offering pupillage.  

If you are unsure whether you are a good fit, take a look at the profiles of junior tenants and current pupils; this provides an indication of the kind of candidate chambers are looking for.   

Legal Research  

Once you begin the substance of your application ensure that your answers are well researched; legal knowledge-based questions are the ideal arena in which to illustrate an ability to thoroughly research the law and provide succinct, detailed and accurate analysis. 

Further, ensure you are informed in regards to current trends, updates and challenges in the areas of law in which you are applying. If there are significant changes proposed to an area of law ensure you are familiar with these and the potential impact they may have on your prospective practice areas.

Spell Check 

It is not merely what you say, but how you say it; there is no point preparing fantastic content but leave it littered with spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. 

This may be one of the most tedious aspects of preparing a good pupillage application, but read your work until the prospect of reading it again makes you want to cry! When you think you have rectified all errors, print out your application and read it aloud. Once you have done that, hand it to someone else to proof-read for you too. 

Remember to keep an eye on apostrophes – it’s Chambers, not Chamber’s. 

Be Concise 

A pupillage application should illustrate that you have the skills needed to succeed at the Bar; a key one of these is the ability to distil the crux of a question and answer it succinctly. You should ensure that you are answering the question that has been asked, without including unnecessary information.  

The word count is there for a reason: providing a well-argued answer within this guide illustrates an ability to argue efficiently and evaluate your best points.  

Have a Personality  

Remember that your paper application is all a prospective Chambers will know about you unless and until they invite you to interview. You need to make yourself more than just an education. Most other applicants will have similar academic credentials to you and so this will not necessarily set you apart. Chambers want to know whether you will fit the feel of that particular chambers as well as being a good barrister. 

Hobbies are a good way to stand out and be remembered, they also give the reader of your application a chance to connect with you on a more personal level.  

Share Your Successes 

Successes should be shared in your application form; this could be receipt of scholarships and awards, or something unconnected to the law. Showing you have the drive and determination required to succeed gives prospective chambers an idea of your work ethic.  

If you read this and think that you haven’t got any successes to share, speak to your friends and family because you will have some. No matter how small they may seem to you they are worth sharing.  


Finally, don’t give up. It can be a long process and everyone's experience is different but keep trying. If you aren’t successful this year then go back through your applications and see where you might have gaps to improve on ready for the next round.


If you are interested in a Civil Pupillage please apply using the form on our website, which can be found here.


CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS: 12pm on 12th January 2020.