The final stage of training to become a barrister is a one-year
pupillage. This is usually undertaken in a set of barristers'
chambers, although it can also be undertaken with certain other
organisations. Being a pupil is similar to being an apprentice when
you will gain practical training under the supervision of an
experienced barrister or barristers. At the end of the year you
will be a fully qualified barrister.
Pupillage is divided into two parts: the "first six" which is a
non-practising six months and the "second six" which is a
practising six months. During the first six, pupils generally
shadow their pupil supervisor, do legal research, draft opinions
and other court documents, read their pupil supervisor's paperwork
and observe him or her in conferences and in court. During the
second six, pupils can take on some work of their own, under
supervision. Sometimes if pupils are not offered tenancy at the end
of the pupillage year, they may do a 'third six pupillage' (also
known as squatting) at the same or a different chambers, in which
they do their own work but are not yet tenants.
Various forms of external training, such as working for a
solicitors' firm, marshalling with a judge or working with an EU
lawyer can also count towards pupillage. Also, pupils are required
to satisfactorily complete an Advocacy Training Course in their
first six months and a Practice Management course in their second
six. The Inns and circuits provide this training for pupils.
Obtaining pupillage is an extremely competitive process (see the
page). Candidates who don't get pupillage on their first attempt
can reapply, but you cannot start pupillage more than five years
after completing the BPTC. Candidates often spend the time before
the next round of applications gaining additional legal
Applying for Pupillage
It is a Bar Standards Board requirement that all pupillages are
advertised on the central pupillage website for a minimum of two
weeks. The Pupillage
Gateway - the new online pupillage application system operated
by the Bar Council - is currently under development and will launch
in February 2013. This temporary website enables you to view
current pupillage vacancies in the interim.
The Pupillage Gateway will be the central online application,
although not all pupillages are recruited through this. Around half
of pupillage providers ask that you apply directly to them, but all
of the relevant information will be in the adverts on the central
website. In the Gateway, there will be one application round each
year, and applications can be made to up to 12 sets. Applications
are made in April, usually 18 months before you intend to start
pupillage, although some are advertised to start in the same year.
Students typically apply for the first time during their final year
as a law undergraduate, during their law conversion course, or
during the first year of the part time BPTC course. Offers are made
in the summer in August.
For further information, please see the new Pupillage Gateway when
it is launched in March 2013. You should also look at chambers'