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Pupillage application season will soon be upon us, and we want to give you the best chance of securing an interview. In this series, each of the five blogs will explore the different sections of the Pupillage Gateway application form and use it to your advantage. This blog discusses how to complete two sections: scholarships and awards, and interests and recreational activities.

Scholarships and awards
The specific guidance on the Pupillage Gateway is that you should use this section to provide details of any scholarships, awards, or prizes that you have obtained, alongside the name of the awarding body and the date obtained. For example, ‘Advocacy Scholarship, BPP University (2021)’ or ‘GDL Exhibition Award, Inner Temple (2019/20)’ or ‘Winner, Landmark Chambers Property Moot Competition (2021)’.

There are many ways to demonstrate excellence, so you don’t necessarily need to restrict yourself to academic achievements. If you have obtained any awards that you are proud of and want to share, then include them, particularly if they clearly demonstrate skills relevant to your application. If the award you have been presented with is uncommon, or the clue to what it was for is not in its name, then ensure that you set out any relevant context, including where relevant the criteria applied to it.

Interests and recreational activities

The barristers who are responsible for reviewing your applications will primarily be trying to determine whether you have the right skillsets to join, and have expressed the right level of interest in, their Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETO). However, they are also searching for candidates whom they would like to meet and who they think would make a great colleague. To that end, if you have interests that go beyond your life as a lawyer that you are comfortable sharing then use this section to show a little character.

When setting out your interests, be mindful that you may be asked to discuss them in an interview and prepare accordingly. Do not include anything that you are not passionate about or do not have an active interest in and cannot therefore speak to with a degree of knowledge. That is not because you will be directly tested on your interests. Still, it has been known for interviewing barristers to ask candidates about an interest on their application form that the barrister shares, and for the candidate to then be unable to answer a basic question about it because the interest was not genuine. That does little more than cause embarrassment, but any impression that an interviewing panel gets of you can make a difference, and you should equally only ever be looking to show AETOs who you are, not who you think they want you to be.

If you wish to use humour, then do so sparingly and with taste. Most candidates who obtain interviews do so without including humour at all in their application forms, and many attempts at humour fall flat. But if you are confident that you can include appropriate and well-judged humour, particularly in this section, it can help sets to gain an impression of who you are as a candidate.

To maximise your time and set yourself up for success, start your application early. Here’s how:

  1. You can create an account on the Pupillage Gateway and add to, or edit, your education, employment, and work experience history at any time.
  2. The Sample Application Form on the website enables you to prepare for the standardised questions you will be asked, and during the advertisement window you will be able to view and consider the bespoke questions that the AETOs that are using the Pupillage Gateway to manage their respective recruitment processes are posing.
  3. When preparing your answers, make sure that you make note of any character or word limits, and apply them accordingly. The character limits on the Pupillage Gateway include typographical symbols and spaces, so be careful to count them as part of your answer. Whether you write in bullet points or prose is a matter for you and the best format to use might depend on which section of the application form you are working on, but both approaches have been used successfully by previous applicants.

Further support

For further information about how to navigate the Pupillage Gateway, please consult the Applicant User Guide and FAQ on the website. If you have a technical question relating to the site that neither address, you can contact the Bar Council Services Team for assistance at [email protected].

Check out the other blogs in the series to find out how to complete the education history and the employment and work experience history sections.