Applying for Mini-pupillages
Mini-pupillages are an important part of your journey to the Bar, as it’s the only kind of work experience that puts you in a barrister’s working environment. Anyone planning to apply for a scholarship at Inner Temple should aim to have done at least three or four so that they can gain a sense of how different chambers work, to find out more about different practice areas and to see that there is no single approach to practising as a barrister. Ultimately, mini-pupillages play a crucial role in helping you to make an informed decision about the Bar.
Since completing this type of work experience will be one of the first steps that you take in your journey to the Bar, the person reviewing your application is unlikely to expect you to have substantial legal knowledge or experience. Having said that, providing some contextual information such as why you are interested in a career as a barrister, why you find law interesting, any practice areas or current legal affairs that are of interest, etc. can be a great way of setting you apart from the competition.
Many chambers offer a structured mini-pupillage programme, advertised via their website and may require you to complete an application form. Others may offer mini-pupillages as and when they receive requests, so you will need to prepare a prospective covering letter, which you’ll send off with your CV. For help with preparing your CV, it’s a good idea to approach the careers officer at your sixth form or college. Regarding the covering letter, there’s no exact science as far as what should be included but you might find the following structure useful as a starting point:
- Paragraph one: Mention your name, level of study and why you’re writing
- Paragraph two: Include some of the contextual information, mentioned above and what you hope to gain from the experience
- Paragraph three: Politely state your availability
Remember to present this as a formal letter with all of the expected features (i.e. your address, the date, chambers address and to end the letter appropriately – yours sincerely or faithfully). When sending a prospective email, you might want to double check the chambers’ website or give them a call to see if there is a specific contact to direct your application to. Don’t worry if you don’t get a response or if you aren’t successful in securing a placement straightaway – there is usually very high demand for mini-pupillages and it is not unusual to have to send several applications to various chambers. Simple things such as checking your spelling and grammar can impact your chances of success.