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updated on 22 February 2023

Mini-pupillages are a crucial form of work experience that chambers will expect to see on your pupillage applications.

Find out which chambers offer mini-pupillages by using our Pupillage search.

Pupillage interview committees will expect you to have relevant experience. Otherwise, your application looks baseless: how do you know you’re suited to a unique profession if you haven’t experienced it?

More and more courts and sets of chambers are opening themselves up to allow would-be advocates to experience what it’s like to be a barrister.

The most formal system is that of the mini-pupillage, a work placement that usually lasts between three days and a week and takes place within a set of barristers’ chambers. You’ll be assigned to a barrister who you’ll shadow and follow into court, much like during the first six months of a full pupillage.

The work will differ depending on the barrister’s practice, the requirements of their current cases and their character. Some chambers run assessed mini-pupillages, during which time you’ll have to produce a piece of written work or participate in a mock-conference.

For example, at commercial chancery set Wilberforce Chambers, mini-pupils visit court with members of chambers, attend conferences with clients and participate in various talks and discussions with members of chambers and staff. As well as observing barristers first-hand (often in court), mini-pupils may be able to read through a set of papers and discuss it with the relevant advocate.

Read this LCN Blog: ‘Mini-pupillages – what are they and should I do them?’ to learn more about pupillage

To apply, many chambers will require you to complete an application form, but others still ask for the traditional CV and cover letter. Before applying, research the chambers’ recent cases and its notable members.

You can search for chambers offering mini-pupillages on LawCareers.Net.

Public galleries and judge marshalling

There are other options for gaining experience and you should try each avenue. Every would-be barrister should take advantage of public galleries in court. This will place you in the advocates’ arena and you could even approach them to ask for work experience.

If you want to know more about the journey to pupillage, check out this LCN Says written by a pupil barrister.  

Another opportunity is marshalling, which involves following a judge for a set period, including sitting with them in court and during their deliberations. The best way to secure a marshalling experience is to make an enquiry to your Inn of Court, which will almost certainly run a formal marshalling scheme.

For further guidance on this career path, read this LCN Says: ‘Journey to the Bar: tips for aspiring barristers’.

You can also contact your local crown or county court directly. Barrister Christian Weaver says: “As an aspiring barrister there are few experiences more valuable than marshalling. No two advocates have the same style. As a result, you can fast track the development of your own advocacy style by observing and adopting the things that each of the advocates appearing before you do particularly well. In addition, sitting on the bench with the judge enables you to observe proceedings from a completely different perspective, and arguably, the most important one. This coupled with the fact that after the proceedings you’ll likely be able to have a chat with the judge regarding their thoughts will make you a much more persuasive advocate when it’s your time to advocate on somebody’s behalf in a courtroom.”