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A Question of Pupillage – A Cautionary Tale!

Another chapter of pupillage applications closes its door....

As the last response from the Pupillage Portal electronically makes its way through cyberspace and into my inbox, the mainstay of applications for this years Pupillage Portal are now firmly consigned to the history books, as another chapter comes to a close.

And so it is for another year, that the submission process has proven to be both fruitless and unforgiving, as I am unable to secure any potential interviews for the forthcoming pupillage season.

Of course one must be mindful of the increasingly competitive nature of the Bar and the requirement for individuals to demonstrate that they indeed have both the academic prowess and competent advocacy skills to complement the often challenging and spirited rigours of life in chambers.

However, the more challenging thoughts of puzzlement and frustration are borne out from this nemesis otherwise known as the Pupillage Portal. Indeed, last week saw a flurry of communications driven through both Twitter and the respective websites of the Bar Council and the Bar Standards Board, as information emerged that the Pupillage Portal, which is operated by GTI Recruiting Solutions, had run into a few teething problems.

This being said, one must take the proactive view of how can an individual undertake to increase and better their chances of success at this fastidious and lamentable application process?

Since being ‘Called to the Bar’ in 2007, I have personally strived to support my applications for pupillage by demonstrating my creditable application of legal knowledge accompanied by my demonstrable practical legal skills.  As an active Trade Union Official, I have undertaken many employment cases and to date, over a five year period, I have never lost a case. Additionally, I have also gained success in achieving out of court commercial settlements.

As a Lecturer in Law, I have lectured extensively across the wide legal academic landscape from AS/A2, ILEX to Masters within both University and College academic legal programmes and yet, my experiences would demonstrate that these homed skills do not seem to be a persuasive or credible route to gain an equal footing within the doors of chambers.

Turning to ‘The Pupillage Blog’, I decided that providing another string to the bow and harnessing the prowess of social networking, both within a legal blog and across the Twitter network, would provide an excellent medium to provide an additional legal dimension to my capabilities. To date the jury is still out on this.  However, from a reflective standpoint, ‘The Pupillage Blog’ has grown and developed into a reliable source for the provision of  practical hands on information and legal commentary for aspiring pupils and barristers alike.

So whilst I am always mindful that any perspective set of chambers may seek credible evidential experience to provide a clear demonstration of an individuals capability to succeed within this profession, I draw upon my five year walk in the pupillage wilderness to seriously question what it is that makes an individual a suitable candidate for pupillage, other than an inward reflective appraisal of the pupils academic schooling, age or social background.

As I have mentioned previously, everyone comes to the Bar with their own unique story of how they achieved their goal. However, as an individual who has sought to come to the Bar as a mature student, opportunities are often far and few between in either obtaining a pupillage interview or achieving pupillage itself.

Questionably the issues that are in discussion within our profession are very much centred around the longevity of differing legal areas of practice, especially as the Bar moves to a more centre stage of in-house lawyers within the ever growing employed Bar.  Yet if the Bar is to maintain its strength in these austere times, it will need to develop the flexibility and fortitude to address change within a positive framework, which in turn will safeguard the profession and all those who decide to enter through its academic gates.

So you may ask, was it all worth it?

In short the answer is yes.  Whilst I may not have achieved my desired end goal and of course the accompanied disappointment of not attaining pupillage,  I have provided advocacy and the much needed support to individuals whom would otherwise would not have afforded it.  With this comes a terrific sense of personal achievement and a knowing that the path that I have taken was the right one!

As always,

Justin Time

3 comments to A Question of Pupillage – A Cautionary Tale!

  • Kiwittsmoor

    An inspirational approach. I just completed the Bar Professioinal Training Course recently, and am currently in the limbo phase of pupillage hunting. My first attempt at Pupillage Portal was “regrettably” unsuccessful, as anticipated. Not a day has passed by when I don’t ask myself “do I really want this?”. But as you say, the path of discovery itself is worth taking. There is so much Bar students can achieve along the way, and you’ve set an example of that. It is important not to loose sight of why we embarked on this journey.

  • Zoe thank you. Your article certainly provides the reader an intuitive personal insight into the pupillage stakes.

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