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Mini-pupillages – what are they and should I do them?

Mini-pupillages – what are they and should I do them?



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Mini-pupillages are short work experiences that involve shadowing a barrister in chambers for up to a week and learning about the particular practice area that they work in. In my experience, you’ll get a set of papers to analyse and then discuss them with the barrister at the end of the day. Usually, you’ll also go to lunch with a few members of chambers, which provides the perfect opportunity to ask any questions you may have about pupillage, life as a junior tenant or the chambers’ culture.

Some chambers have assessed mini-pupillages, which means you’ll have to apply and successfully get a mini-pupillage to be considered for a pupillage. It’s best to do some research and make a list (or an excel sheet) of chambers you’re interested in and record whether they run an assessed mini-pupillage, have upcoming deadlines, and any other information you feel is relevant.

Here are my top five reasons you should do a mini-pupillage, even if chambers doesn’t require them.

  1. It helps you decide whether the Bar is really for you

The Bar is a tough profession, and it can get incredibly lonely at times. You spend a lot of time alone conducting research, making calls or even travelling to different parts of the UK (or the world!) for cases. There isn’t a lot of teamwork involved; you focus on your case and you’re expected to manage your workload independently. Mini-pupillages offer an insight into the life of a barrister and will help you to figure out whether it’s a life you see yourself living.

  1.  It helps you decide which area of law you’d like to specialise in

As a law student, you don’t get to learn about every area of law there is and, ultimately, practising law is very different from studying it. It’s normal to not know which area of law you want to specialise in – that’s what mini-pupillages are for. My advice is to try out as many different areas as you realistically can, even areas you aren’t interested in. You never know, you could end up loving an area you thought you’d hate.

Want to learn more? Check out these Barrister Practice Area Profiles.

  1.  It helps you answer the ‘why chambers?’ question in pupillage applications

Personally, I never know how to answer this question in a meaningful way and mini-pupillages have definitely helped with that. As a mini pupil, you learn things about chambers that you wouldn’t find online and it’s this information that will make your answer stand out against your competitors. Remember that competition for pupillage is tough and every little bit helps.

  1.  It helps you decide if a particular chambers is the right fit for you

The Bar is a rather unique profession and last thing you want is to be at a chambers you aren’t happy in. Doing a mini-pupillage before applying for pupillage, even if the chambers doesn’t require it, will help you see whether a specific chambers is the right fit for you (or, as I like to say, you get to check out the vibes of chambers and see if they match yours).

  1.  It looks great on your CV

Mini-pupillages really boost your CV and show that you have a genuine interest in and commitment to becoming a barrister. It also shows that you’re someone that has potential to become a barrister – chambers generally offer a mini-pupillage to those they see as prospective pupils, so getting a mini-pupillage is an incredible achievement.

So, should you do a mini-pupillage? In short, yes – it’s invaluable work experience and you’ll gain a lot from your time in chambers.