As the pupillage gateway closes for another year, those who were unsuccessful face a long wait before the application window opens again. And if you have just finished the BPTC, your free time is likely to suddenly increase. This can be a demoralising time, but here are some tips for things you can do to get through that period.
Some chambers have their application timetable deliberately set separately from the main gateway timetable. But there are plenty of other chambers that shouldn’t be overlooked. After an intense application period, the thought of filling out another form is akin to the stuff of nightmares, but it’s important to keep up the momentum. Remember, it only takes one application to be successful and the more applications sent, the higher the chances of gaining that illusive pupillage. The gateway has an email notification system, so that you can be informed when chambers in your areas of interest post a vacancy.
Although it may be tempting to simply sit back and enjoy your new-found freedom, it’s important not to become too laid back. Chambers will expect the momentum to be maintained in your efforts to maintain pupillage. It’s important for effort and improvement to keep building in order to demonstrate motivation. There are five years (and so five cycles) in which to apply for pupillage, and those who ensure that their CV is improved for each application cycle stand a far better chance of gaining more interviews and a higher chance of securing pupillage.
Advocacy is an integral part of being a barrister and it’s something that is quite unique to the role. For that reason, it can be difficult to get the right experience before commencing the job. Getting a job where advocacy is a key part of the role will be an impressive addition to any potential barrister’s CV. The classic options are acting as a solicitor’s agent, which means you will be sent out to do hearings and will be in court on an almost daily basis. There are other options, such as paralegal roles where some court attendance is expected or encouraged. It is also a good idea to think outside of the box and look for opportunities to build on public speaking either within work or as part of a voluntary commitment.
Volunteering demonstrates that you are prepared to go the extra mile, both in terms of giving back to the community and developing your CV. There are plenty of volunteering positions out there. Finding a novel volunteer placement in the area of law that you are interested in can be a good way of making your experience stand out. Committing your free time in this way shows a genuine interest in a certain aspect of the law or legal system. There are also ways of logistically making volunteering work for you, whether that’s volunteering from home, online or simply when suits you.
Having said all that, it is still important to take the time to relax and enjoy having less pressure hanging over you. Take the time to do the things that you’ve always wanted to do, such as a holiday or a new hobby. It may have the added advantage of making you a more rounded person, but there’s nothing wrong with doing something for entirely frivolous reasons. The BPTC and pupillage are both very busy and stressful times, with little additional time to do things simply because you want to. Try to see the gap as a chance to do interesting and fun things.