Mini-Pupillages

On the 26/10/2016 we held our annual event ‘Becoming a Barrister’. In this we spoke about our personal experiences with mini-pupillages. Below you can find all the information. If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to get in contact with us!

WHAT IS A MINI-PUPILLAGE?

  • Commonly referred to as a “Mini”, a mini-pupillage is one of a few forms of work experience conducted by students aspiring to a career at the Bar.
  • It often entails 3-5 days of shadowing either one, or a number of, barristers, giving a real insight into the kinds of work they do.
  • Unlike a Vacation Scheme or a Placement minis are not “tailored” to you, you are seeing what a barrister does in his/her day to day life. It is probably one of the only work experiences that gives you a truly accurate assessment of what the job entails.

WHAT KIND OF MINI-PUPILLAGE ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

  • Minis can be sorted into two main categories, assessed and non-assessed.
  • An assessed mini-pupillage involves creating a piece of work, which is reviewed at the end of the week. This can vary from writing up legal research to drafting a piece of ‘advice’ for a client. This is designed to supplement you throughout the week, showing you that not all of a barrister’s work is done in the courtroom. This piece of work is often kept by chambers should they need a reference point if you apply to them for pupillage/tenancy
  • A non-assessed Mini simply means that there is no piece of written work. however, a barrister will still keep you in the loop with the work they are doing, as well as asking for your opinion on the cases that you witness.

COMMERCIAL MINIS

  • Generally, minis with commercial sets are highly sought after, they are often assessed and can sometimes even be supplemented (travel costs, food etc.)
  • Commercial Barristers can sometimes only be in court once a week, some even less. This will mean that you may spend more time in chambers than you would if you were on a Family or Crime mini. However, clerks will normally endeavor to get you into court as much as possible.

NON-COMMERCIAL MINIS

  • These minis are still highly sought after, but are often unassessed and are very rarely supplemented.
  • They usually involve shadowing Crime or Family barristers, although there are obviously far more areas than that, which means you will spend the vast majority of your time in court.
  • They are genuinely just quite enjoyable. You can get quite involved with the cases and it really does show you the realities of life at the Bar.
  • Barrister-dependent, you can be taken out for meals and coffee, and it is an extremely efficient way of networking within the profession.

HOW TO GET A MINI

  • Two main types, CV and cover letter or Application form.
  • CV should have all your previous work experience on it, as well as academic achievement (with module breakdowns) and I recommend any other information you personally would deem necessary. You effectively want to come across as a well-rounded person, with more aspects to your life than the Law.
  • A Cover Letter is where the majority of the focus will be. They want to know that you:
  1. Have done your research into the areas of law chambers practices in. (If you’re going into Crime, do you know the realities of life at the Criminal Bar nowadays).
  2. you explain why you want to witness their specific chambers (look at recent cases, prominent silks etc.)
  3. I usually give some contextual background information (Work experience, specific interest in the Bar).
  4. Most important of all, remember you are writing to persuade. Most of the people in this room will have written any form of essay, attempting to convince the reader that your opinion, above all else, is most important. Apply that same logic to your Applications.
  • Application Forms usually just consist of exactly the same things you would put on your CV and Cover Letter, but broken down into individual sections.

GENERAL ADVICE

  • Create a ‘Legal’ cv, separate from any other cv you have.
  • Apply as early as possible, do not think because you are in your first year this means you are too early, and in the same vein don’t think because you are in your third year you are too late.
  • Apply to different Chambers – show that you have experienced varied aspects of the Bar. Commercial, Non-commercial – London, “Circuits” – Small sets vs. Large sets.
  • If you haven’t already, get LinkedIn. It is a very useful way of staying in contact with Barristers, as well as keeping up to date with everything that is going on at the Bar in general. Twitter also key.
  • A large part of a career at the Bar is self-promotion, to quote the most cliched phrase in the professional world “it is not what you know, it is who you know”.
  • Get involved with the Bar Society. Might sound like shameless self-promotion but its looks great for the cv and also provides genuine networking opportunities.
  • Stay in touch, send thank you cards – sounds unusual but you are more likely to be remembered.
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