The application process begins with a two-day mini pupillage (or if necessary a virtual mini pupillage of one and a half days). This is an essential part of the selection procedure.
Pupillage applications are made through the centralised Pupillage Gateway scheme in the January and February of the calendar year before the pupillage is due to start (i.e., applications in January and February 2023 will be for pupillage commencing in October 2024). Dates for first and second interviews will be published on this website in due course; usually these interviews take place during March/April.
There are typically around 150-200 applicants for up to four pupillage places. Approximately 35-40 applicants are invited to the first-round interview. The first-round interview comprises a 15-minute discussion with a panel of interviewers about matters arising out of the applicant’s CV and application, and a law-related question, for example on a recent appellate decision (of which they will be notified in advance), to test the applicant’s ability to think on their feet, analytical skills, and oral advocacy.
Approximately fifteen applicants are then invited to the second-round interview. Applicants attend chambers two hours before their interview when they are provided with a legal problem, which forms the subject of discussion during the interview. Applicants have time to prepare submissions in relation to the legal problem under controlled conditions. The interview itself covers two stages: first, the applicant is provided with an opportunity to present their oral argument or opinion to the panel, and questions will be asked in relation to that legal problem. Secondly, applicants will be asked questions about their academic record and previous experience. The second-round interview lasts approximately thirty minutes.
Chambers usually aims to recruit four pupils through the Pupillage Gateway.
Owing to the high number of applications, it is not possible to provide feedback to those candidates who are not selected for a first-round interview or to candidates who attended a first-round interview but did not reach a second-round interview. We will provide feedback to second-round candidates who are not offered pupillage on request, and we will endeavour to provide this within 21 days of receipt of the request.
Transferring solicitors and intermediate pupillages
3VB welcomes applications for pupillage from practising solicitors or those completing their training contract.
Certain transferring (qualified) solicitors are in many cases exempt from applying through the Pupillage Gateway under Bar Council regulations. We therefore invite such candidates to apply by way of CV and detailed covering letter, including the names and contact details of two referees. Those applications should be made by email, addressed to the Pupillage Secretary at email@example.com, and will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Transferring solicitors (or employed barristers) who have been granted a full exemption from pupillage by the BSB, and who have had significant experience in professional legal practice, but who do not wish to apply as lateral hires may wish to apply for an intermediate pupillage. This is a bespoke arrangement, to be negotiated between 3VB and the individual applicant, intended to provide more flexibility to candidates already in professional practice. This may include a shorter period of training (for example 6 months of pupillage, rather than the ordinary 12), and the pupillage can also commence at a mutually convenient date, rather than in the October of the year following the application, as for ordinary 12-month pupillages. It is intended that intermediate pupillages will provide suitably qualified applicants with greater flexibility and a shorter lead-time to beginning practice at the bar, while still ensuring that they receive the training and support they need to make a successful transition.
In order to transfer, a certificate of good standing needs to be obtained from the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority before an application for permission to transfer to the Bar can be made to the Bar Standards Board. The Bar Standards Board will indicate what sections of the Bar Transfer Test need to be completed and what length of pupillage must be undertaken. Further information is available on the Bar Standards Board website here.
The process needs to be begun in good time, and 3VB can provide successful candidates with support throughout the process.