Tips to make your pupillage application stand out

6th December 2022

Getting pupillage is very competitive, and it’s always difficult to choose between the high number of excellent applications that we receive. The first step is to get from application to first interview. Follow our top tips below to make your application stand out! 

  1. Why do you want to be a barrister? And why at our Chambers? This is a standard question and we’re interested to hear about what makes you tick! You need to show that you have considered the realities of the role, have researched our set and have good reasons for applying to us. Make sure that you also show what you can contribute to us – what your strengths and attributes are. Advocate for yourself! 
  2. Tell your story in your own words - don’t try to ‘sound like a barrister’. We are a diverse and flexible set. We don’t believe that there is a standard for what a barrister looks like, and we don’t believe that there is one for what a barrister sounds like either. You’ll need to use your own voice in practice, so make sure you use it in your application.
  3. Tailor your application to the set you are applying to. Show that you have done your research about our set and that you understand the type of work we do. Don’t tell us how you aspire to an area of work where we don’t practice. And don’t name the wrong set in your application (sounds crazy but we always get applications telling us how keen the applicant is to work in a set down the road!)
  4. We offer two pupillages per year – one mixed practice pupillage and one specialist family pupillage. Make sure you set out which you are applying for. Explain why. Let us know why you are suited to the role you have chosen, and how your experience will make you best suited to that role. 
  5. Our work is primarily court based – we are an excellent choice for those who want to get on their feet as soon as possible and who want to be in court more than in chambers! As a result, we want to know about your advocacy experience. Think wider than mini-pupillages and mooting (especially as we know those have been hard to obtain over the last 2 years). Give us examples of when you have spoken up, spoken out and spoken publicly.
  6. Law is an evidence-based profession, and we are looking for evidence in your application. Don’t just tell us what you can do – give examples. We want to see proof not just assertions! 
  7. We want to assess your application at its best. If there are mitigating circumstances that we should be aware of, make sure that you mention this. If you require flexibility in the application process or in pupillage itself, make sure that you mention this. If you want to discuss your requirements, you are welcome to contact our Director at clarekelly@5pumpcourt.com (discussions are confidential).
  8. Pay careful attention to the questions – answer clearly and concisely. Watch the word limits. Make sure you have answered all the questions, given examples, and related your ambitions and experience to our set.
  9. If you can, get someone to read through your application. They will be able to tell you if it is easy to read, interesting, clear and if there are mistakes. When you have drafted the application yourself, it can be very difficult to assess it objectively after a while! A second pair of eyes is invaluable.  
  10. Finally, check, check and check again – spelling, word counts, references to a different set! 

Applications are your first chance to demonstrate your written advocacy skills, and to start to convince us that you should be our next pupil. Good luck!