Is it hard to get mini pupillage?
Getting a mini pupillage under your belt is a vital step in your journey to qualifying as a barrister. We have gathered all the important information you need to succeed with your mini pupillage application.
Mini pupillages – what are they?
Mini pupillages are short-term work experience placements in chambers where you have the opportunity to shadow a barrister. Similar to vacation schemes for aspiring solicitors, they usually take place during your university’s Winter, Spring and Summer breaks.
If you are interested in a career as a barrister, it is highly advisable to do mini pupillages during your law degree or whilst you are completing a law conversion course such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL).
A mini pupillage lasts around three to five days and participants carry out tasks such as proofreading documents and conducting research. It is an excellent opportunity to discover what it is like working in a chamber and find out whether a career at the Bar is the right one for you.
Before embarking on the Bar Course (previously the Bar Professional Training Course, or BPTC for short), it is recommended to do around 3 to 4 mini pupillages. This will allow you to gain valuable experience in the chamber and will enhance your application.
A mini pupillage can be either assessed or unassessed. Assessed ones will have tests and feedback included as part of your work experience. Whilst an assessed mini pupillage has a certain element of prestige attached to it, we recommend that you do an unassessed mini pupillage first so that you get a flavour of what the experience is like beforehand.
Just how difficult is it to get a mini pupillage?
Getting onto a mini pupillage is notoriously difficult, not least because there are hundreds of candidates applying for each place and your competitors will all have very strong CVs.
A typical candidate may have completed a couple of mini pupillages previously, in addition to having gained some experience working in the legal industry.
Months, or even up to a year may pass before you get accepted onto a mini pupillage after you have submitted your application. Therefore it is in your best interest to plan ahead, even if the whole experience will only last a couple of days.
We have put together some tips to help your application stand out, to maximise your chances of getting a mini pupillage.
How to enhance your mini pupillage application
To apply for a mini pupillage you usually need to submit your CV and a cover letter to a chamber. Some chambers will use application portals where you will be asked additional questions about your motivation for applying and about the skills you have acquired in your studies and past roles.
Due to the competitive nature of mini pupillages, you need to stand out in your application. To maximise your chances of getting a place, try to apply for opportunities at chambers that specialise in the areas of law that you are interested in. It is much easier to write a cover letter or letter of motivation if you are passionate about the work that the chamber is doing.
In addition to explaining why you want to become a barrister, the chambers also want to know why you want to do a mini pupillage specifically with them. For this you need to do your research on their values and objectives and how those make them different from other chambers.
If you are lucky enough to get an interview or a placement, make sure to be yourself and ask questions. The latter is especially important as it shows that you are genuinely interested in the profession and are motivated to qualify as a barrister.
Even though it is tough to get a mini pupillage, taking on board the tips above will help make your application stand out and increase the chances of it being successful.