25 Bedford Row runs and implements an equal opportunities pupillage policy. This runs throughout the selection process to the training and finally to the selection of tenants. Chambers takes all steps to ensure that proper arrangements are made for dealing with pupils and pupillage and that the affairs of Chambers are conducted in a manner, which is fair and equitable for all pupils.
Chambers operates the following policy with regard to the conduct of pupillage:
Number of pupils
Chambers offer three (3) 12-month pupillages, terminable at the end of the twelve months by either Chambers or the pupil, but this policy is reviewable each year by the Pupillage Committee in consultation with the Management Committee of Chambers.
Depending upon workload, Chambers accommodates 3rd six month pupillages each 6-months (some of whom may have completed 12 months pupillages with 25 Bedford Row, some of who may be external candidates).
Advertisement of pupillages
In accordance with the ‘Pupillage Funding & Advertising Requirements 2003’ issued by the Bar Standards Board (Annex R to the Code of Conduct), all 1st and 2nd six month pupillages offered by Chambers are advertised through the Pupillage Gateway website.
Recruitment / choice of pupils
No pupil will be accepted in Chambers who has not come through the Chambers selection procedure.
It is Chambers’ intention to ensure that the opportunity to undertake pupillage is open to all upon merit and ability. We have developed a system of selection over the years that we believe helps us recruit the pupils whom we believe will be able to work with us and at the same time is open and fair. We are looking for candidates with proven academic ability and with a character that we think will fit in and work well with Chambers. Selection will be made from Pupillage Gateway applications as follows:
Initial Selection: The Chair of the Pupillage Committee oversees the selection process. The whole of Chambers is involved in the initial consideration of paper applications forms. Two members of Chambers, using a standardised scoring procedure, independently review each application form. No application is rejected unless at least 2 members of Chambers have read the application form and reached the same conclusion. In the event of disagreement between the 2 members, the Chair of the Pupillage Committee will assess the application and his/her decision will prevail. A random selection of application forms, together with the scores awarded by the allocated 2 members, will be further reviewed by the Chair of the Pupillage to ensure the consistency of approach to candidates in the selection process.
First Interview: We try to interview as many candidates as possible. This usually amounts to approximately 60. The candidate is asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to the allotted interview time, and is given a short piece of advocacy to prepare, such as a plea in mitigation or bail application. Each candidate will then be asked the same two topical legal questions following the advocacy exercise. This is to ensure consistency, yet gives the applicant an opportunity to display individuality and originality. Each interview lasts a maximum of 15 minutes and requires no specific preparation on the part of the applicant in advance. Interviewers will be drawn from the whole of Chambers with a minimum of two members.
Second Interview: A short-list of between 10 and 15 applicants will be called for a second interview. Again, the candidate is asked to arrive 30 minutes beforehand, when they all will be asked to perform a further pre-arranged advocacy exercise. The advocacy exercise is followed by a 3-minute speech to the Pupillage Committee on any non-legal subject of the applicant’s choice, which should have been prepared in advance. Candidates will be advised in advance of the interview as to its structure but will not be provided with the advocacy exercise until they arrive. Interviewers will be drawn from the whole of Chambers with a minimum of 4 members including one Silk.
Following the second interviews, a shortlist of candidates is invited to meet a cross-section of Chambers and working pupils in a more informal environment.
In the event (and only in the event) that Chambers fails to locate suitable applicants through the Pupillage Gateway system, or a pupil ‘pulls out’ for whatever reason, Chambers may invite and accept non-pupillage gateway applications (in accordance with the regulations, procedure and timetable). Such applications will be assessed and interviewed in the same manner (and upon the same terms) as Pupillage Gateway applicants.
From time to time, Chambers will also invite applications for 3rd six pupillages. Such applications will be assessed and interviewed in the same manner (and upon the same terms) as Pupillage Gateway applicants.
Funding of pupillages
It is Chambers’ intention to ensure that the opportunity to undertake pupillage is open to all upon merit and ability; it would be contrary to that intention, were offers based upon the ability and/or willingness of a particular candidate to fund themselves through pupillage. Accordingly, Chambers provides awards of £18,000 to each of its three 12-month pupils.
Chambers will make a grant towards the living expenses and food requirements incurred during the 1st six months of pupillage. The total payment will be £9,000, paid in monthly installments, payable in advance (subject to possible delay during the first month whilst a CHAPS transfer is set up). This payment is made on the basis that the pupil continues as a pupil in Chambers during the 1st six months but, should that arrangement cease, for whatever reason, the payments will be stopped.
During the 2nd six months, Chambers guarantees earnings up to a figure of £9,000. In the unlikely event that a pupil’s earnings do not exceed this sum in any given month, Chambers will pay the pupil the difference. During the 2nd six months period of pupillage, Chambers does not seek to recoup any fees on monies earned. Again, this payment is made on the basis that the pupil continues as a pupil in Chambers during the 2nd six months but, should that arrangement cease, for whatever reason, the payments will be stopped.
Chambers does not fund 3rd six month pupillages. By way of clerking and Chambers’ fees, 3rd six month pupils are charged 10% of their income. 3rd Six pupils are expected to secure their own insurance with the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund (BMIF).
Pattern of pupillage
All three 12-month pupillages are general criminal pupillages.
During the First six months, pupils will be allocated to a single Pupil Supervisor.
At an induction held a week prior to commencement of pupillage, all pupils receive a comprehensive written guide to pupillage at 25 Bedford Row. As well as welcoming the pupil, it sets out guidance and material in advance of the pupil’s arrival in Chambers to help them get the most out of pupillage with us. In addition, during the first week in Chambers, we arrange a meeting for all pupils with the Chair and the other members of the Pupillage Committee, together with fellow pupils, to answer any further queries and to ensure that pupillage has begun smoothly.
All 1st six-month pupils are also expected to spend some time with 3rd six-month pupils and / or junior tenants to ensure experience is gained in the Magistrates Court prior to the commencement of 2nd six pupillage.
In addition, placements can be arranged for each pupil to spend time at Release, a national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law.
Second six month pupils will be allocated to a (different) single Pupil Supervisor for the duration of the 2nd six-month period that they will shadow and assist. Pupils will also attend Court in their own right. Pupils are moved to different rooms so they get to know as wide a range of members of Chambers as possible. The association between pupil and Pupil Supervisor is necessarily less strong during the 2nd six months as the pupils are in court on their own account every day. But the Pupil Supervisors keep a close eye on the work their pupils are doing, especially during the first few weeks.
Third six month pupils will be allocated to a (different) single Pupil Supervisor for the duration of the 3rd six-month period that they will shadow and assist. Pupils will also attend Court in their own right. Pupils are moved to different rooms so they get to know as wide a range of members of Chambers as possible. The association between pupil and Pupil Supervisor is necessarily less strong during the 3rd six months as the pupils are in court on their own account every day. But the Pupil Supervisors keep a close eye on the work their pupils are doing, especially during the first few weeks.
Chambers views prompt, regular and constructive assessment of pupillage not only as good practice but also as vital. On an informal basis, pupils are encouraged to continually monitor their progress by informal discussions with their Pupil Supervisors. In addition the Pupillage Committee meets all of the pupils on a regular basis so that any problems or complaints can be talked over and dealt with.
On a formal basis, and in addition to the Bar Standards Board checklists, Chambers operates an in-house training and assessment procedure.
At the conclusion of the pupil’s 1st and 2nd six month periods, the pupil and Pupil Supervisor will complete an in-house pupillage appraisal form based upon their own appraisal and the feed-back they have had from other members of Chambers, clerks, solicitors and other members of the Bar. The form deals with a comprehensive range of the pupil’s abilities and capabilities and also makes suggestions for the future development of the pupil. This is intended to assist the pupil to know how they are progressing in pupillage and identify those areas requiring improvement. The contents of the form will be discussed with the pupil within a month of him/her finishing that stage of their pupillage. Completed appraisal forms are held in confidence by the Chair of the Pupillage Committee.
The Appraisal Forms constitute an integral aspect of the pupil’s training and will form an essential part of any application the pupil makes to Chambers for further pupillage and/or tenancy.
In-house advocacy training
Pupils are encouraged to take part in any advocacy training offered by their Inns or the Circuit.
Additionally, throughout the twelve-month period, pupils take part in a rigorous in-house advocacy-training programme, delivered by experienced practitioners and on occasion, judges and other legal professionals. The programme is a mix of seminars and practical exercises aimed at developing up to date knowledge of the law, court procedure and advocacy skills.
Mock courts are regularly used to test the growing knowledge and confidence of our pupils. The training programme culminates with a number of written and oral assessments.
The training programme lasts approximately 70 hours in total. Workshops are conducted along the lines developed by Gray’s Inn and are run by members of Chambers. The sessions usually take place on the first and last Wednesday evening of each month. The training material has been compiled by members of Chambers and covers all of the ground that young members of the Criminal Bar can expect to encounter in their first few months on their feet and beyond. It is an intense course as we are able to have a very low ratio of Trainers to Pupils. We also have the advantage of being able to call on junior members of Chambers, who themselves have gone through the same course, to act as the witnesses/clients.
At 25 Bedford Row we are confident and proud of the fact that we offer our pupils among the most comprehensive advocacy training available at the Criminal Bar. By the time they get on their feet in their 2nd six months our pupils will have completed many hours of intensive advocacy training. Pupils must pass this course to the satisfaction of the Pupillage Committee in order to take up the 2nd six months and to attend court in their own right representing Chambers.
Recruitment of tenants
No pupillage at 25 Bedford Row is offered with a guarantee of (or with a view to) further pupillage or tenancy at its conclusion. All pupils must apply for such further pupillages and/or tenancies as may be available.
Chambers’ policy in respect of pupil recruitment is that applications for tenancy will not be considered until completion of a 3rd six-month pupillage. Within one month prior to the conclusion of a twelve-month pupillage, pupils can (and will be invited to) apply to for a further extension for six months, by means of a written letter to the Chair of the Pupillage Committee.
Applications will be considered by the Pupillage Committee, with regard to the views expressed by the clerks and Pupil Supervisors.
Junior tenants may be recruited from in-house pupils at the conclusion of their 3rd six pupillage. They may be considered alongside any external candidates (as to which Chambers will advertise generally for prospective junior tenants before making any decision).
Chambers is committed to a process that is fair, comprehensive and includes on-going assessment. The purpose is two-fold.
To ensure that pupils are given every opportunity to demonstrate their skills over the period of their pupillages.
The ultimate aim is that chambers’ recruits the talented pupil(s). The standard expected of pupils is a high one. Chambers’ recruits pupils who are “exceptional”.
Ultimately, Chambers will not offer a tenancy to any pupil who is not deemed to have the ability, determination and potential to make an outstanding Barrister, advocate and ambassador for 25 Bedford Row and to create and sustain a successful practice.
Our full Pupillage Policy can be downloaded here.
Applying to join us
Chambers has a firm commitment to equal opportunities and welcome and encourage applications from all sections of society, regardless of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief or age