Applicants

Information for applicants

Search & Apply

Welcome

Welcome to the Bar Council’s Pupillage Gateway – the pupillage recruitment portal designed by the Bar, for the Bar of the future.

The Pupillage Gateway is the online application system for pupillage. Under the Bar Standards Board’s Bar Qualification Manual, any vacancies for pupillage must be advertised on the Gateway. Furthermore, approximately 105 (or 50% of) Authorised Education and Training Organisations (‘AETOs’) use the Pupillage Gateway to administer their pupillage recruitment process.

Operated by the Bar Council, prospective candidates can use the Pupillage Gateway to search for vacancies, prepare and save their applications in advance of the timetable going live using the practice application form, and to apply to those AETOs that use the Gateway to recruit and track the progress of any applications made. Further details about the functions of the system can be found in the Applicant User Guide (pdf).

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Timetable

Please note that the system opens for the submission of applications at 11:00am on Monday 4 January 2021, and closes at 11:00am on Monday 8 February 2021. It will not be possible to submit applications after this time and extensions will not be granted.
Friday 27 November 2020

Publication of advertisements on the Pupillage Gateway: all approved vacancy advertisements will be published for prospective applicants to browse.

There is a Practice Online Application Form, available on the Pupillage Gateway, which allows aspiring barristers to gain an understanding of the format their application will take and to upload relevant information in advance of the opening of the annual submissions window. Whilst the form is only relevant to those AETOs using the Pupillage Gateway to administer their recruitment process will, prospective pupil barristers can edit information contained within it throughout the year and use it gain a more general understanding of what will be expected of them when making an application.

Monday 4 January 2021, 11:00am

Applications open: the submissions window for applications opens and candidates can start to share their applications with their chosen pupillage providers.

AETOs using the Pupillage Gateway to administer their recruitment process will not have access to the applications until the submissions window closes.

Monday 8 February 2021, 11:00am

Applications close: the submissions window for applications closes and no further applications or amendments to applications are allowed.

AETOs not using the Pupillage Gateway can begin the shortlisting and interview process from this date.

Thursday 11 February 2021, 11:00am

Publication of Gateway applications to AETOs: AETOs using the Pupillage Gateway to administer their recruitment process will be able to download candidate applications and begin the shortlisting and interview process from this date.

Monday 8/ Thursday 11 February 2021 – Thursday 6 May 2021

Shortlisting and interviews: AETOs sift through applications, shortlist candidates and conduct interviews during this period.

AETOs using the Pupillage Gateway to administer their recruitment process can use the system to communicate with candidates.

Friday 7 May 2021, 09:00am

Offers made: AETOs will make offers on this date.

AETOs are not able to make offers to applicants in advance of this date. They also must not make informal or indicative offers in advance.

Friday 14 May 2021, 09:00am

Deadline for accepting initial offers: all applicants have a seven-day deadline to communicate acceptance of an offer (if any). Applicants will be able to accept an offer anytime up to the deadline.

If the seven-day deadline passes without the applicant accepting the offer, AETOs should send out second round offers within a reasonable time period.

How to apply

The Pupillage Gateway makes applying for pupillage easier than ever before. After you have completed and saved the online Practice Application Form, your details will be automatically copied across to up to 20 live pupillage applications per annum. There is also a downloadable Sample Application Form available to help your preparation. All pupillages are required to be advertised on the Pupillage Gateway and, from 1 November 2020, must be recruited in line with the Gateway timetable.

Whilst all Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs) must use the Pupillage Gateway to advertise, they are not mandated to use the recruitment portal to assist in the administration of their respective processes. For those AETOs who manage their recruitment process outside the Pupillage Gateway, please refer to the instructions in the vacancy advert or the relevant AETO’s website for further details.

Applicants generally apply for pupillage around 18 months before they intend to start pupillage, although this varies depending on what academic stage the applicant has reached. For example, an applicant in the penultimate year of a law degree, or final year of a non-law degree, may apply only to chambers which are offering pupillage to start two years from the date of application.

An applicant in the final year of a law degree, or studying the Graduate Diploma in Law, may apply to chambers offering pupillage to start one year from the date of application. For details on the timings of the 2019/20 recruitment round, please see the applicant timetable. Further details on how to apply can be found in the Applicant User Guide (pdf).

Pupillage FAQs

If you are successful in obtaining a pupillage, what can you expect when you start?
What is pupillage?

Pupillage (otherwise known as the “work-based component”) is the final and practical stage of training to become a barrister, which you can commence up to five years after completing the Bar Professional Training Course (‘BPTC’) or, from September 2020 onwards, a Bar Standards Board approved training pathway (otherwise known as the “vocational component”).

Pupillages are either completed in a set of chambers or with another approved organisation (such as the Government Legal Department or the Crown Prosecution Service). Pupillages usually start in September or October, one year after you have been made an offer (so successful May 2021 applicants will commence pupillage in autumn 2022).

The rules and regulations governing pupillage are set out in the Bar Standards Board Bar Qualification Manual which all aspiring barristers, current pupils, supervisors and AETOs should study.

What is the format of a pupillage and how long does it last?

Most pupillages last 12 months but, depending on the AETO, can last up to 24 months. They are formally divided into two periods: non-practising and practising. During the non-practising period, pupils will be assigned a pupil supervisor; a barrister in the same AETO who the pupil will shadow, and for whom the pupil will undertake supervised work, such as legal research and drafting court documents. The pupil will also accompany the pupil supervisor to court and conferences with clients. During the practising period, pupils will be eligible to undertake cases of their own, albeit under supervision, and will begin to build up their own contacts and a client base. Until they have completed their pupillage and hold a full practising certificate, all pupils are covered by their supervisor’s Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund insurance.

How are pupillages funded?

Between 1 January and 31 December 2020, AETOs will be required to fund pupillages with a minimum award of £18,866 per year for pupillages in London and £16,322 per year for pupillages outside London (these minimum amounts will increase yearly in line with inflation). Some pupillage providers provide considerably larger awards; particularly chancery and commercial sets, which are competing with the large commercial law firms for applicants – please see individual vacancies for further information.

Scholarships are not generally available for pupillage and are only offered by the Inns to support aspiring barristers throughout their GDL and BPTC or approved training pathway.

Do I need to undertake any additional training in order to qualify as a barrister?

In order to have the non-practising period signed off, pupils currently need to pass an assessed advocacy course taught by their Inn or Circuit.

From 2021, pupils will also need to complete a compulsory negotiation skills course and an ethics exam during their pupillage.

What happens after pupillage?

Recruitment methods vary between pupillage providers, but decisions about ‘tenancy’ (long-term places in chambers) are usually made about 10 months into pupillage. Competition for tenancy can be strong, with some chambers taking on several pupils but only retaining one as a tenant. Other sets of chambers take on every pupil with a view to making them a tenant if they perform well. Appraisal might be based simply on the assessments of the supervisors, or pupils might be expected to take part in a formal mock advocacy exercise or interview.

Once barristers become a tenant, their income will come entirely from the work that they take on, either in their own right or, at the start of their career, when acting as the junior member within a team of barristers. With the support of their ‘clerks’ or ‘practice managers’ (who are responsible for assigning work to the barristers in their chambers and, in many cases, generating new business), members of chambers are expected to build up a reputation amongst potential clients and a network of solicitors who will ‘instruct’ them (essentially paying you to provide specialist services) on a regular basis.

Most chambers will require their tenants to pay a proportion of their earnings (‘rent’) to cover the costs of chambers’ employees and other shared overheads.

What happens if I don’t get a tenancy?

Pupils who do not gain tenancy at the chambers at which they completed their pupillage may be able to apply for a fixed-term practising period (also known as a “third six pupillage”) or tenancy at another set. Whilst third six pupillages are not considered to be an additional period of training, they allow barristers to gain exposure to other types of work and will give them another chance to apply for a permanent tenancy within the set at a later stage.

Search & Apply

Click the button below to start searching and applying for pupillages.

Search & Apply