Are mini pupillages paid?
Mini pupillages provide a valuable insight into a barrister’s day-to-day work, giving you a real flavour of what a career at the Bar entails and whether this profession is really for you. This article will discuss whether mini pupillages are paid, and the numerous funding sources available.
What is a mini pupillage?
A mini pupillage is a short-term work experience opportunity undertaken in barristers’ chambers by those interested in becoming a barrister in the future. You can think of them as similar to vacation schemes for aspiring solicitors. Usually lasting between one and five days and often taking place during university holidays, these short placements allow you to shadow practising barristers and learn more about their day to day responsibilities.
Mini pupillages are a very impressive form of work experience to include on your pupillage applications to chambers in the future, making them incredibly worthwhile.
Will I get paid for a mini pupillage?
The short answer is that mini pupillages are unpaid. However, all hope is not yet lost! There is a plethora of help available to you if you require financial assistance in order to complete a mini pupillage. This help comes from numerous sources, ranging from chambers themselves to specific schemes set up to ensure hardship does not get in the way of valuable work experience.
Let’s explore your options.
Funding from chambers
Many chambers offer those undertaking mini pupillages reimbursement for associated expenses, usually including reasonable travel and/or accommodation expenses. The covering of expenses is done to ensure mini pupillage placements are more widely accessible and affordable for all.
Some chambers offer to compensate expenses for all applicants, whereas others only reimburse in exceptional circumstances of hardship. Some chambers have gone further and set up social mobility schemes to provide an additional award of money for applicants that meet certain criteria, such as falling within a group that’s underrepresented at the Bar.
So, it is worth checking what funding options are available by looking on specific chambers’ websites or getting in contact with them before applying for a mini pupillage.
The Inns of Court to the rescue
You may or may not have come across the term ‘Inns of Court’ before, but it essentially refers to the four legal societies (‘Inns’) which play a vital role in a barrister’s qualification process. All barristers must become a member of one of the Inns. An Inn performs many functions such as offering training and scholarships to prospective barristers and eventually admitting them to the Bar. The Inns even have their own schemes set up to help certain students with funding mini pupillages and other work experience.
Here is a summary of what each Inn can offer you in terms of mini pupillages and other related experience:
- Lincoln’s Inn- Mini Pupillage Grant Scheme: ensures that students looking to undertake mini pupillages receive the financial support that enables them to do so. Grants can assist with travel, accommodation and even clothing expenses. Grants can cover anticipated expenses of up to £500, meaning that the scheme helpfully goes beyond what many chambers have to offer.
- Lincoln’s Inn- The Neuberger Prize: granted to students in their last year of a qualifying law degree at a non-Russell Group university. Winners are awarded a mini pupillage, £250 of funding, a summer school at the Inn and a mentor for their third year at university.
- Inner Temple- Pegasus Access and Support Scheme (PASS): PASS assists high achieving students from backgrounds that are underrepresented at the Bar. It does this by securing each participant a mini pupillage, providing them with advocacy training and covering associated travel and accommodation costs. PASS therefore aims to widen access to the profession.
- Middle Temple- Access to the Bar Award: aims to reach students from disadvantaged backgrounds who face additional barriers to a career at the Bar. Participants of the scheme are offered two funded weeks of work experience: one week is spent shadowing a judge (‘marshalling’) and the other is spent shadowing a barrister (a mini pupillage). £250 of funding is provided per week, as well as accommodation where required.
- Gray’s Inn- University Advocacy Day: successful applicants can listen to leading advocates and learn about the essential elements of exceptional advocacy, all before putting this into practice themselves.
‘Bridging the Bar'
Bridging the Bar (‘BTB’) is a charity that intends to improve access to opportunities in the legal profession for those within underrepresented groups, whether owing to their socio-economic background, sexuality, ethnic background or disability. BTB partners with leading chambers to provide successful candidates with a bespoke mini pupillage programme.
BTB also offers additional schemes, including mentoring, judicial internships and alternative work experience opportunities.
On top of all that’s been discussed, if you're in universiity, you should also get in touch with them to see what financial support they can offer you. You will often have to complete an application form explaining why you need and deserve the money, but it will be worth it!