Top Tips for Pupillage – Part 1

Top Tips for Pupillage – Part 1

Hello all!

We are pupils at KCH Garden Square Barristers (KCH) based on the Midland Circuit, and welcome to our Top Tips for Pupillage series.

We know only too well that the pupillage application process can be daunting, so we thought that we would put together some tips to help you throughout the process. The process itself is unique and can be broken down into three stages:

  1. Research
  2. Written application
  3. Interviews

As such, we will be publishing a three-part series throughout the 2023 window tailored to these stages. In this entry, we shall be talking about research.


Once the Pupillage Gateway publishes adverts, this is when you should really start your research. Use the time between now and January to think about the Chambers you want to apply to. Both of us suggest that you have a think about the following factors:

  • Location

Simply put, where do you want to work? You may be attracted to London Chambers, or, like us, you may prefer to be on a Circuit. This is an important consideration as you may have to relocate for pupillage, and you need to be happy with where you are. London is a large, fast paced city that is recognised as the country’s legal hub. However, life on a Circuit can be equally as fun. Firstly, by routinely visiting the same courts, you become well acquainted with your fellow professionals which makes the Robing Room a familiar and comforting environment. Secondly, the Chambers may (KCH certainly does) provide you with an opportunity to access a higher quality of work early on in your career.  Whether you apply locally or elsewhere, remember it is important to always evidence a strong connection to the area in which you are applying to. Since its unlikely a set would be willing to invest in you for pupillage if you have no genuine intention to remain with them should they offer you tenancy.

  • Types of Pupillage

It may sound obvious but have a think about the type of pupillage you would like. Are you feeling more inclined to do a general common law pupillage, or would you prefer a specialist pupillage in a particular area of practice? We are both undertaking specialist pupillages. One of us is undertaking a specialised civil pupillage, whilst the other has an exclusively criminal pupillage.

This is important as it gears you up for the type of practice which you will build. You may want to think whether you would prefer to build your skills in a particular field, or whether you would like the variety of undertaking a pupillage that covers Civil, Criminal and Family Law. Researching the chambers you wish to apply to is key, as the set may offer services in all areas but have specialised pupillage. KCH falls into this bracket, as they provide legal services within Civil, Criminal, and Family law, but offer specialised pupillages for each area. You will need to be in a position to explain why you have applied for a particular pupillage when it comes to applications, and a generic sweeping explanation will not cut it.

  • Types of Sets

Sets of chambers come in all shapes and sizes, and this is a key factor for consideration. Some are national sets with multiple locations and over 100 members; others are small and house fewer tenants. The size of a set will impact the environment of the organisation, the type of work you may be exposed to, and the structure and operation of the set. These are factors which you may need to consider, as it is important that you know about the sets which you are applying to. You will be asked why you have applied to that set. Understanding the type of set which you have applied to will assist you here as you will need to distinguish that set from others.

In summary, doing proper research now will not only help in narrowing down the chambers you want to apply to, but it will also make the written application and interview stage a lot easier. Use the time between now and January wisely.

Best of luck and keep an eye out for our upcoming posts!

Kinza and James

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