Guest blog by Gunnar Schulte (LLB 2013) who is a pupil at a barristers’ chambers in London:
A mini-pupillage is work experience at a barristers’ chambers, usually for two to five days. Mini-pupillages can vary greatly in character. Mini-pupils usually sit with a barrister, or are assigned to a different barrister for each day of their mini-pupillage. The work experience itself varies and may include reading the papers in a given case, shadowing a barrister in court, observing a conference with a client, or writing an opinion. Mini-pupillages are usually unpaid. They are a good opportunity to find out more about a particular set of chambers or life at the Bar in general. They can also be very helpful when deciding between different practice areas or between qualifying as a barrister or solicitor.
How to make the most of the experience
- Take a notebook with you to record what you’ve observed, and think about what you’ve learned about legal principles, advocacy, and the daily work of barristers. If you apply for pupillage later, your notes will help you in justifying an interest in a particular practice area and in demonstrating an awareness of what the work of a barrister involves. When taking notes, make sure to respect confidentiality.
- Feel free to ask questions when you aren’t in front of the barrister’s clients or in court, but also be aware that your supervisor may have a busy day. Try to talk to current pupils or young juniors if you have the chance. Their work may be quite different compared to that of senior tenants, and their insights will often be the most relevant.
- If you are given written work to complete or papers to read, it is usually more important to carefully engage with the facts than to have specialist legal knowledge. You won’t be expected to be an expert at this point, and chambers are aware that mini-pupils can be at different stages in their legal career.
- Appreciate the opportunity. Being offered mini-pupillage is an indication that chambers considers you to be a potential candidate for pupillage – it’s a good sign! Convey enthusiasm, be polite to everyone, arrive early, and try to impress.