Pupillage Application Best Practices

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The pupillage application is a complex process. Throughout, you should ensure that you stick to best practices to maximise your chances of success.

Crafting a Standout Personal Statement

The personal statement is often the first point of contact between you and the chambers. This document needs to be a compelling narrative that not only highlights your qualifications but also your passion for law and why you aspire to be a barrister. Use the personal statement to demonstrate your individuality, experience, and potential contributions to the field. Mention any relevant work experience, academic achievements, or extracurricular activities that show you are a well-rounded candidate.

The Bar Standards Board and individual chambers’ websites often provide guidelines for what to include in your personal statement. Adhering to these official resources ensures that you meet the specific expectations set by each chamber. It’s important to remember that a generic statement won’t cut it; customise your personal statement for each application to show that you have researched the chamber and understand its unique ethos and specialities.

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Navigating the Pupillage Gateway

The Pupillage Gateway is the online application system used by many chambers. It is crucial to become well-acquainted with this platform as early as possible. The system usually opens for a specific period each year for applicants to submit their applications. To prepare, read through the application requirements, rules, and timelines listed on the Pupillage Gateway and on the Bar Standards Board website. These official resources will give you an accurate understanding of what you need to prepare and the deadlines you must meet.


Before you even log into the Gateway, create a checklist based on the requirements. This will help you collect all the necessary information and documents in advance. Pay close attention to character limits and required attachments. Missteps at this stage can jeopardise your entire application, no matter how strong a candidate you are.

Planning your time wisely is paramount; consider setting reminders or alarms to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines. Also, make sure to save your work frequently to avoid losing any progress. The platform can be inundated with last-minute submissions, making the system slow and risking your ability to submit on time. Aim to complete your application well before the deadline to mitigate any potential issues.

By focusing on crafting a standout personal statement and effectively navigating the Pupillage Gateway, you’re laying a strong foundation for your application. Using official resources available on the Bar Standards Board website and individual chambers’ websites can guide you in meeting the stringent requirements of pupillage applications. This focused approach will help you avoid common pitfalls and enhance your chances of securing a pupillage.

Preparing for Aptitude Tests and Assessments

Some chambers incorporate aptitude tests and assessments as part of their selection process. These could range from psychometric tests to specific legal reasoning tests. Before taking these assessments, consult any guidelines or practice tests that the chamber may offer and ensure that you work through our full range of sample questions. You can also use resources such as the Bar Standards Board website for sample questions and tips. Prepare systematically and take practice tests under timed conditions to get a feel for what to expect.

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Acing the Interview and Assessment Centre

If your application passes the initial screening, the next step usually involves an interview or attendance at an assessment centre. Chambers are not just assessing your legal knowledge; they are also evaluating your interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities, and whether you’d be a good fit for their organisational culture.

Before the interview, thoroughly research the chamber’s area of specialisation, notable cases, and members. Prepare answers for common questions and have examples ready to demonstrate your skills and experiences. Mock interviews with mentors or peers can offer valuable practice and feedback.

If your assessment involves a mock trial or case study, spend time understanding the context and the law surrounding it. Highlight your analytical skills, your ability to construct arguments, and your clarity in presenting them. Remember, they are not just looking for the right answer but also how well you articulate and defend your reasoning.

5. Inability to Argue Both Sides of an Issue

Even after submitting your application, the process of becoming a barrister is continuous. Use the period after submission to further your learning and networking. Attend legal events, webinars, or workshops that can deepen your understanding of the field. Building relationships with current barristers can provide valuable insights and potentially strong references for your application.

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