When you’ve decided that being a barrister is what you want to do, the best way to get a taste of life at the Bar is to do a mini-pupillage.
The ‘where’ of doing a mini-pupillage should be quite simple. Find out all you can about various chambers, especially the ones close to where you are located.
The ‘when’ may be a little more complicated. If you’re still at school, you will find it a struggle to get a mini-pupillage; some chambers do advertise programmes for high school students, but these are few and far between.
Finding a mini-pupillage at university
It’s easier once you’ve begun your law degree as many chambers offer mini-pupillages to law students. It varies chambers to chamber, but non-law students might have to wait until they begin their GDL before they’ll be able to apply for a mini-pupillage.
The first thing you need to do is look at all the kinds of work available with different chambers to get an idea of where your talents and aptitudes will fit best. Once you have a rough idea of the areas you’d like to try out, you should begin applying for mini-pupillages to chambers with expertise in these areas.
It is imperative that you do at least one mini-pupillage before you apply for or complete a pupillage. Some chambers will make it a condition of the pupillage selection process that an assessed mini-pupillage at their chambers should be completed first.
The mini-pupillage application...
To apply for mini-pupillages, you will normally need to send a copy of your latest CV and a covering letter addressed specifically to the chamber you’re applying to. Some chambers may have online applications you will need to submit instead, but all the details should be available at the respective chambers’ websites. If not, give them a ring to find out.
Treat the application as you would a job or pupillage application. Ensure the CV, covering letter or application details are carefully worded, without any spelling or grammatical errors.
Your writing should be crisp, cogent and to the point, and don’t use any fancy bells or whistles to jazz up your CV. Some other handy suggestions to remember: don’t be long-winded and use unnecessary jargon; mention relevant extracurricular activities you’ve participated in; and subtly highlight significant achievements such as grades, prizes or medals for public speaking.
Any work or projects that you have undertaken which involved some amount of people management, teamwork and communication skills are definitely worth a mention. The covering letter should provide details of your current status and why you are interested in a career at the Bar or why you want to be a barrister.
Importantly, keep your application concise and to the point. Barristers won’t want to spend a huge amount of time wading through your application. The quicker you can convince them to take you on, the better.