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updated on 19 May 2022
The pupillage application process continues as hundreds of aspiring barristers prepare for interviews this month – online and in person. Read this key advice on how to prepare for the final stage of pupillage selection.
Reading time: six minutes
Competition for pupillage is tough, as everyone who passes the application stage knows (see Applying yourself to pupillage for more), so being invited to an interview is an achievement in itself. Now you need to prepare.
Because most barristers are self-employed, chambers act more as a collection of individuals than a corporate entity. As a result, chambers can be highly individualistic. However, there are certain qualities that chambers tend to look for in prospective pupils.
Chambers will be looking for evidence of these qualities throughout the interview both in what you say and the way you say it. This applies equally whether you are interviewing face to face or online.
What to expect
The interview procedures adopted by chambers can be very varied. However, in most cases the selection process will include a practical exercise and an interview (usually two).
How to prepare for interview
To prepare for your interview, you are strongly advised to do the following:
It is common for sets of chambers to give you a legal problem to present or a topic to discuss at interview. Make sure to structure these answers and give a clear outline of your arguments.
While you are speaking you may be interrupted and challenged on one or more points in your argument. This is to see how you cope under pressure. Try to react positively and don’t be afraid to stick to your point. These exercises are meant to simulate what might happen in court or at a tribunal. According to student feedback, the most common exercise is an advocacy test of some description, or a presentation. See the video Pupillage Interviews Uncovered II.
If you are a student with a Disability Support Agreement do not be afraid to request extra time for advocacy preparation or exercises. Chambers are usually supportive when it comes to this, but you often have to request.
At the end of the interview, you may be asked if you have any questions. Use this as another opportunity to show your enthusiasm and to find out about the kind of work you might be involved in. However, don’t ask questions you should know the answer to; chambers will often provide a great deal of information about pupillage on their website. Instead, try to ask engaging questions that elicit information that is not readily available but which is important to you.
This article was written by Lawrence Horner, head of employability services at The University of Law.