updated on 24 November 2020
The pandemic has caused disruption across the barristers’ profession, but students should still apply for pupillages and mini-pupillages this winter. Here is the latest information for aspiring barristers.
Pupillage vacancies will be advertised on the Pupillage Gateway application system from Friday 27 November for candidates to browse. Candidates can then submit applications from 11:00am on Monday 4 January to 11:00am on Monday 8 February 2021.
Chambers are expected to hold interviews between Monday 8 February – Thursday 6 May 2021, with pupillage offers to be made on Friday 7 May 2021.
However, not all chambers will be following this timetable. The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is allowing chambers greater flexibility as a result of the pandemic and the financial crisis facing the Bar. Chambers can apply to the BSB for a waiver allowing them to run their pupillage recruitment processes at any time between 1 November 2020 and 31 August 2021 (although pupillage offers cannot be made until after Friday 14 May).
Candidates should check with the chambers they want to apply to directly if they are unsure about the application timetable.
In-person mini-pupillages are not currently possible due to coronavirus restrictions, but barristers’ chambers are running virtual mini-pupillages and presentations. Sets offering virtual mini-pupillage programmes or other virtual events in 2020 and 2021 include:
Gaining advocacy experience is essential to have a chance of securing pupillage. Getting involved in a mooting competition is one of the best ways to develop advocacy skills, but the pandemic seems to have forced many of the long-running annual competitions to postpone.
Students should look out for opportunities to take part in virtual mooting, such as the European Law Students Association’s John H Jackson Moot Court Competition, for which teams can register until Tuesday 1 December.
Inns of Court scholarships
The four Inns of Court are still open to new members and if you are considering a Bar course, you will need to join one of the Inns. Scholarships continue to be awarded, although the selection process may be changed to accommodate covid-19 restrictions. Your Inn may allow awards made in 2020 to be deferred if course dates change.
The Inns have also begun to deliver some Qualifying Sessions remotely.
Time limit on the BPTC
There is still a five-year time limit in which prospective barristers must secure pupillage after completing the BPTC, with no change to the expiry date in response to covid-19. Candidates who reach the end of their five-year period by the end of December 2020 and have been unable to obtain pupillage this year due to the pandemic will be able to apply free to the BSB for dispensation from the time limit.