Recruitment methods vary between pupillage providers, but decisions about ‘tenancy’ (long-term places in chambers) are usually made two to three months before the end of any given 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, including 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 them to provide specialist services) on a regular basis.
Most chambers will require their tenants to pay a proportion of their earnings to cover the costs of chambers’ employees and other shared overheads.
At the employed Bar, decisions around long-term employment vary depending on the organisation. For example, if the pupil is employed as part of an Authorised Education and Training Organisation such as a law firm or the Government Legal Department, the decision will be made at the end of their training whether to offer them full-time employment or not. They may need to apply for any vacant posts that are available. The offer of a permanent position will bring with it standard employment rights, and unlike the self-employed profession there will be no expectation that the barrister pay towards building rents. Diary management is likely to be offered in-house, as opposed to through a clerking system. In contrast, pupils in the Royal Navy and at the Financial Conduct Authority are fully employed both before and after pupillage, and their employment is not conditional on successful completion of pupillage. Those offered pupillage through the Royal Navy will be seconded to a barristers’ chambers to undertake it and will be treated in the same way as their self-employed counterparts. Secondments to chambers also occur in other employed Bar Authorised Education and Training Organisations, such as the Government Legal Department.