Structure of Pupillage
Pupils sit with four pupil supervisors for three months at a time and are exposed to a broad range of chambers’ work during these seats.
In addition to working with their pupil supervisors, pupils are also asked to work with other members of chambers of all levels. In particular, pupils have a shadow pupil supervisor, who is a more junior member of chambers charged with providing access to smaller pieces of work of the type ordinarily seen by a tenant in the early years of practice.
Pupils sit in the rooms of their pupil supervisor and share their daily professional life, drafting statements of case, researching legal points, writing advices, and attending conferences and trials or other hearings in Court. Whilst pupils have to work hard, sometimes very hard, it is not expected that pupils should work late into the evenings or at weekends on a regular basis.
Advocacy and Education
Pupils also undertake a number of advocacy exercises, usually one each term, during the course of pupillage. These exercises provide an opportunity to practise and develop advocacy skills, with a particular focus on commercial applications. Pupils receive feedback from silks in chambers who are qualified advocacy trainers for their Inns, and a moderator and pupil supervisors also attend these sessions.
During the second six months of pupillage, pupils are given the opportunity to undertake a limited amount of advocacy on their own account, in order to start building up experience and earnings (which are additional to the pupillage award and not subject to any chambers expenses).
Chambers ensures that pupils are given adequate time to prepare for and attend the compulsory training courses in advocacy and other topics provided by the Inns during the pupillage year.
The Tenancy Decision
Pupils are given regular feedback from their pupil supervisors and have reviews at the end of each seat with the Head of Pupillage and the Pupillage Secretary. The three-month review is to assess progress generally and to address any concerns the pupil may have. The six-month review is more significant. Its purpose is to provide a realistic assessment of the prospect of tenancy as well as to provide an opportunity for constructive feedback to help the pupil deal with any areas of weakness in the period leading up to the tenancy decision.
The tenancy decision is usually taken in the first half of July. Chambers has no quota or limit on the number of tenancies as a proportion of pupillages offered, and the intention when offering pupillage is that every pupil who has met the standard required will be offered tenancy. Where a pupil is not offered tenancy at 3VB, Chambers has a strong record of helping pupils find a place at another good set or solicitors’ firm.