– getting pupillage: be yourself
It took Krishma Patel a series of trial and error interviews before she was offered pupillage
I never imagined getting pupillage would be this difficult. It took me four years of hard work, hundreds of applications, hours of practising interview questions and weeks on end reading about scintillating legal topics and current affairs.
While studying law, I participated in a mooting competition in my penultimate year. From the moment I stood up to present my first argument, I knew that I wanted to be a barrister. I decided at that point that I would do everything in my power to get there.
I went on to study the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at Nottingham Law School. During the course of this year, I attended numerous pupillage talks and networking events. I realised that I had to start thinking outside the box - everyone had got firsts, done a number of mini-pupillages and had marshalling experience.
Early this year, I started volunteering with a company called Help4LiPs (helping litigants in person - now diyLAW). I wanted to play a small part in helping those who had been hit hard by the legal aid cuts. After volunteering (and networking non-stop) for a few months, the opportunity arose to help a litigant with a case. The litigant was claiming a sum of £12m from a bank. I drafted the witness statement for his hearing at the Court of Appeal. If I had not networked as much and hadn't committed myself to volunteering with the company, the chance to work on a case of such magnitude would not have arisen until very late in my career (if at all).
I have three key tips that I hope will help you to attain pupillage:
• First, I encourage you to think outside the box in terms of legal experience. In all of my interviews, the panel didn't want to talk to me about my glittering array of mini-pupillages. They were much more interested in the work I did at Help4LiPs (now diyLAW).
• Second, start your applications early. The practice form on Gateway (the online application service for pupillages) is available much earlier than applications open. It will take you a number of drafts before you are content with your final version. This year it took me nine drafts until I was happy.
• Finally, and most importantly, be yourself in interviews. Obviously make sure you are professional and courteous at all times but don't try to be someone you aren't. You don't get a second chance to make a first impression.
This is a mistake I made time and time again. In interviews I always tried to come across as the person I thought the chambers wanted me to be. In my last interview, I thought I'd see what happened if I was myself. And guess what, I was offered pupillage. To my surprise, they must have liked me. It is a huge relief to know that during pupillage at my chambers I don't have to pretend to be anybody that I am not.
I am very sympathetic to all of those going through applications on the long hard hunt for pupillage. But do not give up. I am proof that with sheer hard work and determination you can do this.
This article was originally published here.
This blogpost is for information purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice because it does not consider or take into account your own personal circumstances. If in doubt, seek legal advice.