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updated on 07 February 2024

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 often look for candidates with relevant work experience. Completing a mini-pupillage is very beneficial, as it allows you to back up claims that you’re suited to a unique profession with real-life experience.

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 you would during the first six months of a full pupillage.

Read our Meet the Lawyer interviews with barristers for more information about mini-pupillages, pupillages and a career at the Bar.

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, Blackstone Chambers exclusively recruits for its pupillages through an assessed mini-pupillage. Mini pupils spend three days in chambers, shadowing the work of at least one or two members. You’ll also be required to complete a set piece of work during one of the days you spend in chambers. This will be assessed anonymously by a panel of barristers. This piece of work forms part of the selection process for the final pupillage interview.

To learn more about the process, read this LCN Oracle: ‘Mini-pupillage: what is it and what are the benefits’.

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. 

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.

To find out more about the application process, check out this LCN Says: ‘Advice for pupillage applications’.

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.

To find out more about the Inns of Court and why you need to join one, read this Feature: ‘Becoming a barrister: what are the Inns of Court’.

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.”