Introduction to Pupillage
1 Crown Office Row is committed to providing excellent training for pupils. We want each of our pupils to be a future star of the Bar. You will quickly become involved in whatever your Pupil Supervisor is doing at the time, so be prepared to hit the ground running. You will be expected to contribute meaningfully – so please don't expect a quiet life in the shadows providing administrative support. We are much more interested in your brain than your photocopying. As a friendly set you will get to know us, and more importantly, we will get to know you, in no time.
If you want a warts-and-all view as to what pupillage is like, click on the following names to see what two of our recent pupils, Maria Roche and Matthew Flinn, said about it.
If you want advice on the application process, our current pupil, Daniel Sokol, has written useful articles as published by The Guardian newspaper on a) how to write a good pupillage application (click here) and b) how to impress at a pupillage interview (click here).
How Many Places?
Awards and Training
What we are looking for – the Criteria
What we expect from you
What you can expect from us
Tenancy – the big question
Early Years of Tenancy
How Many Places?
Every year, we offer two fully-funded 12-month pupillages. In recent years we have also taken a funded third six pupil.
Awards and Training
For pupils starting in October 2014, Chambers are offering pupillage awards of £45,000 to each 12-month pupil. The award comprises £22,500 payable monthly in advance for the first 6 months and, during the second 6 months, a further £22,500 payable monthly in advance, by way of "guaranteed earnings". The latter arrangement means that during his or her second 6 months, any money received (rather than earned) by a pupil in one month will be deducted from the monthly sum paid by Chambers at the start of the following month. Funded third six pupils are remunerated in the same way as second 6 month pupils.
In the case of fees which are collected after completion of the pupillage period for work done during that period, Chambers levies a 10% percentage fee to cover its clerking costs. There is no such levy on fees collected during the pupillage period.
Pupils may be permitted to draw down up to 20% of the award (£9,000) in advance to help cover their expenses during their Bar Vocational Course training (or any other suitable education or experience undertaken in the year before the start of pupilage) subject to signing an appropriate commitment to pay back the sum in the event of their being unable to start pupillage with us.
Chambers also pays for all training courses required during pupillage including the advocacy courses, the Advice to Counsel course and the Forensic Accounting course.
We consider that advocacy is an important skill. We want you to be effective in court and to be properly prepared. For that reason, we also run in-house advocacy training. Every year towards the end of the first six, and just before the pupils start going to court alone, they participate in a mock Crown Court trial against pupils from another chambers. Obviously, we prefer the 'home team' to win! The trial takes place in a real court room (it has been held previously eg at the Old Bailey) in front of a real live Judge. Members of both chambers form the jury (we are your peers after all and are totally impartial!) and some of the QCs and other senior members of chambers perform as difficult witnesses. It may be a bit nerve-racking, but it is good fun and you will not have nerves about going to court in your second six months after that.
What we are looking for – the Selection Criteria
Chambers selects pupils solely on merit. We are looking for the following -
(1) Intellectual and analytical ability, including an ability to present written ideas succinctly and persuasively;
(2) Oral communication and advocacy skills;
(3) Temperament, including a commitment to hard work and ability to perform under pressure;
(4) Interpersonal Skills, including a capacity to understand and to show understanding of the needs and problems of those for whom and with whom they work;
(5) Motivation for a career at the Bar and pupillage at 1COR.
These are our only selection criteria. We are not looking for anyone of any particular race, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation, political persuasion, marital status, disability, age or religion. Merit is what matters.
Chambers selects pupils solely on merit and recruits through the Pupillage Gateway scheme.
Chambers draws up a shortlist of applicants by reference to the selection criteria set out above. A first round interview will then take place. Those invited to a second interview are then interviewed by at least four members of chambers of mixed age, gender and seniority. We use standard questions and questions triggered by the candidate's individual application form.
After the second interview, we produce a ranked list of candidates and, once references have been taken, offers of pupillage are made through the Pupillage Gateway system.
Third-six month pupillages
Chambers will usually consider applications from exceptional candidates for third 6-month pupillages. These are funded on the same "guaranteed earnings" basis as our second six-month pupils. The selection process is identical to that set out above for 12-month pupils. Applications are usually invited from late June or July for selection in July and should be addressed to David Hart QC.
This is not as alarming as it may sound. We want you to settle in quickly and to feel comfortable in chambers so, once a pupillage offer has been accepted, the new pupils will be invited to Chambers to meet their Pupil Supervisors, members of chambers and the current pupils. We pride ourselves on being approachable and friendly. During this first visit you will receive a general introduction to pupillage to let you know what to expect and then a tour of Chambers so that you know where to find everything and everyone. You will also be given a pupillage handbook.
Most questions are answered in the pupillage handbook but, if you don't know something, please don't be afraid to ask!
When you start your pupillage, you will have a further induction session with our Chambers Director and Senior Clerk who will take you through how clerking and the administration of chambers works. You will be given copies of key policies and procedures and pointed in the direction of the "Quality Mark Manual" where all these are set out.
Every week we also have chambers tea which is not (as you might imagine) a stuffy formal ceremonial, but rather the chance for everyone to flop down on sofas together for a while and chat about both important matters and trivia. It's a great way for the pupils to meet other members of chambers whom they might not otherwise run into. Who knows – that woman with the chocolate biscuit may be the one you may need one day to ask for help on a particularly tricky matter. It will be easier if you have met and chatted to her first!
Structure of pupillage
Pupillage is divided into three stages, each supervised by a principal Pupil Supervisor. These are the people with whom you will spend most of your time. The pupil's progress is formally reviewed by the Pupil Supervisor at the end of each stage but in practice there is constant feedback with every piece of work that you do. You will know how well you are doing and if you are going astray, we will tell you how to get back on the right track.
Each pupil is also interviewed by the Head of Pupillage, John Whitting QC, after the first six months. This latter interview is intended to be an opportunity for the pupil to raise any issue of concern. In addition, Chambers has a written grievance procedure for pupils. If a concern arises in relation to discrimination or harassment or related issues, the pupil may also utilise the procedures established under the Chambers Equality and Diversity and Harassment Policies.
In your first six months, you will be expected to produce high quality written work, both advices and pleadings. It is important to get this right and your Pupil Supervisor will be keen to get you to improve. Try and pay careful attention to what goes on in Court. It may be cosy sitting behind your Pupil Supervisor as a passive spectator now, but in a few months you will be standing in court on your own.
We do not expect you to work the same hours as your Pupil Supervisor. We do not want you to work in the evenings and at weekends. We only want you to work 9am to 6pm (although sometimes, particularly when you are working on your own cases, you may find yourself working different hours).
Pupillage can be tiring. There is a lot to learn. It is important to pace yourself and we expect you to take holidays. Pupils have 20 working days holiday each year: 10 days in the first six months and 10 days in the second six months of pupillage.
What we expect from you
Every pupil will be provided with a copy of the Pupillage Policy which sets out the roles and duties of both pupils and their supervisors in detail but, in summary, you should:
(1) follow the instructions of the Pupil Supervisor (reading papers, drafting proceedings, attending conferences, attending court hearings)
(2) complete any further required training and assessments in Advocacy and the Advice to Counsel course.
(3) Ensure that any information passed to you during pupillage is kept strictly confidential and all papers are kept secure at all times.
What you can expect from us
The Pupil Supervisor plays an important part in honing the pupil's skills as a barrister. The pupil supervisor will support and train the pupil to be the best that he/she can be. You can expect your Pupil Supervisor to:
(a) teach you the rules of conduct and etiquette of the Bar
(b) provide you with written feedback on all your work (and ensure that other members of Chambers also provide written feedback)
(c) review your work periodically (at least every 3 months) to discuss progress and any potential for improvement
(d) alert you to any areas of concern (whether conduct or performance) at an early stage, to give you a chance to put it right
(e) ensure that you complete your training checklists accurately
(f) provide a sufficient breadth and variety of work
(g) encourage you to get your (good!) work seen by other members of chambers and to work for them
(h) ensure that you are not overburdened with work
(i) assist and supervise your work
(j) encourage good working relationships between pupils, staff and members of chambers
(k) provide you with a practising certificate when you are ready!
We trust and hope that there will not be any problems. However, as it is not a perfect world, we realise that a problem could arise, if it does, it will be taken seriously. Depending on the circumstances, the pupil can either
(1) raise it with his/her Pupil Supervisor
(2) tell the Head of Pupillage
(3) tell the Chambers Director (if it involves the staff) and/or
(4) follow the written pupil grievance procedure or
(5) follow the Equality, Diversity and Harassment policies (if appropriate)
Any problem you raise will be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. It will not affect your chance of being offered a tenancy. If something is up, speak up!
Tenancy – the big question
Every twelve-month and third-six pupil has the potential to become a tenant and we have a good record of offering tenancies to our pupils. Tenancy offers are decided at a full Chambers meeting which usually takes place in late June. That meeting considers an assessment prepared by an elected Committee (of which the relevant Pupil Supervisors are NOT members) chaired by the Head of Chambers which considers all relevant information in advance and then submits a report and recommendation.
Tenancy decisions are taken by reference to the same selection criteria as set out above, and having regard to the fit with Chamber's practice needs and Chamber's resources. If we are going to offer you a tenancy, we will tell you immediately after this meeting.
If you have to leave us, we will do our best to help you get a third-six pupillage elsewhere if that is what you wish to do. You will normally stay with us until October (if you are a twelve-month pupil) to complete your pupillage training with us before moving on elsewhere. Assuming you successfully complete your training but have yet to obtain a third-six elsewhere in October, you will be permitted to stay on to practise for a reasonable period until you are able to find a placement elsewhere (this is rather inelegantly referred to as "squatting"). We take our tenancy decisions relatively early on so that, if you have to seek a third-six elsewhere, you are better placed to have time to do so.
Early Years of Tenancy
If you are offered a tenancy and decide to accept, you will find that we support you and protect your practice in your early years in two particular ways –
a) we subsidise the rents of all tenants during the first 4 years of their tenancy; and
b) the distribution of work is monitored by the Chambers Equality and Diversity Committee for the first 3 years of tenancy (as it is also for working pupils) to ensure that unallocated work received in Chambers is distributed fairly.
Best of luck in your application!