For any wannabe barristers, one of the crucial things to get your hands on is a mini-pupillage. Mini-pupillages are essentially a period spent shadowing a barrister. This is often at trial – meaning you get a golden opportunity to witness the real world of advocacy and the highs and lows of life on your feet.
Mini-pupillages can be like gold-dust; chambers are known to make formal applications as thorough as job interviews, involving writing essays on law, your desire to become a barrister etc. as well as extensive testimonials on your academic and extra-curricular pursuits. This can make the process rather onerous for some, or simply put others off entirely as they feel they cannot ‘measure up’ on paper. Often, formal mini-pupillages are only offered to second or third year law students, making that another hurdle to get past when trying to gain experience early on in your education.
However, this blog post is designed to show you that minis are easier to get your hands on than you might think, or have been led to believe by your fellow law students. I gained three mini-pupillages before I even got to university, and have secured another two in my first year. So, read on!
Four ‘easy’/non-traditional routes to gaining a mini-pupillage:
- It’s not what you know, it’s who you know – sadly, or luckily (depending on your view-point), the world often works for you if you make connections easily. I cannot stress enough how important it is when you meet people to be engaging, engaged and then to FOLLOW UP with them by email etc. afterwards. Networking is not always the most comfortable experience, but going outside your comfort zone can often pay dividends.
- Mooting competitions – many competitions offer mini-pupillages as a prize, so the practice is well worth honing – see my previous post for a ‘how to’ on mooting. Not only will it look fantastic on your CV, boost advocacy experience but also you often meet barristers and judges through the different rounds of competition.
- Emailing directly – I gained my first three mini-pupillages well before attending university simply by being a little cheeky and emailing chambers directly. I wrote a short and snappy email that summed me up, showed some personality and asked if there were any shadowing opportunities. I would also recommend targeting provincial chambers (outside London) as they can be more amenable to this approach; although one of the chambers who responded to me was a London set.
- Inns of Court University Open Days – your university law school should have great connections to the Inns of Court. Capitalising on opportunities stemming from those relationships are so important – these will probably include yearly Open Days at all the Inns of Courts. They often require an application, as there is usually stiff competition for places. I applied to two such Open Days this year and was successful in both applications and they not only allow you to visit and look round each Inn, but you dine with fellow students, pupil barristers, judges and QCs. They are a fantastic chance to see where you might fit in best, and to network with the Bar. I gained a mini-pupillage from one of these, and some other great connections.
So there we go, four alternative routes to getting a mini-pupillage!
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