Mini-Pupillage Q&A

Mini-Pupillage Q&A

Pupillage offer day is a matter of weeks away, but for those who are looking at applying in 2025, the next nine months can provide the opportunity to boost your knowledge, enhance your CV and decide which sets you’d like to apply to. Mini-Pupillage is one way to do this.

Our window for mini-pupillage applications next opens in the summer, but here Chief Operating Officer Hannah Scothern goes through what a mini-pupillage is, what you can expect and how you can apply.

What is a Mini-Pupillage?

Essentially, a mini-pupillage is a period of work experience, offering individuals who are considering a career at the Bar the experience of shadowing Barristers in their day to day working life.

Why do a Mini-Pupillage?

Mini-Pupillage gives a real idea as to what life as a Barrister is like, which can be a little different to what you might have seen on ‘Silk’, ‘The Split’ or other TV dramas. Whilst you can go to Court and sit in the public gallery to see Barristers in action, a mini-pupillage gives you a ‘behind the scenes’ experience.

If you’re interested in applying to a particular set for pupillage, a mini-pupillage provides an opportunity to see how the set operate, what the culture is like and if it is somewhere you might like to begin your career as a Barrister.

It also provides the opportunity to discover which areas of law perhaps interest you more than others. At KCH Garden Square, members of Chambers staff will meet with mini-pupils when they arrive and we encourage asking us questions about Chambers life and it’s organisation. Many of our staff have been with Chambers for a number of years and we are happy to help or advise wherever we can.

How many Mini-Pupillages should you do?

When our committees assess applications for pupillage, there’s no set number of mini-pupillage placements that we look for. It might be an idea to get a balance of criminal, civil and family shadowing and I always advise students to be open to different experiences, as even those certain on  a career in one area found themselves reconsidering after shadowing different areas of law. But even if you’re really certain on one particular area of law, having a view of different practice areas may help you give more well-rounded answers in pupillage applications and interviews.

It’s wise to get enough experience to help you decide where you’d like to be based – London sets can often be different to those in the provinces, and which area of law you wish to practice in. 

How do you get a Mini-Pupillage?

Every set has a different approach for obtaining mini-pupillage. At KCH Garden Square, we have four application windows each year, three for in-person placements and one for our annual Virtual Mini Pupillage Day. For all, a short application form needs to be completed, which is then blind marked and assessed on areas including Academic Ability, Non-Legal Extra Curricular Activity, Legal Experience, Advocacy Experience, Work Ethic and Insight into the practice as a Barrister. Whilst you may not have experience in every area (and gaining such is often the purpose for applying for a placement!), one word answers or – even worse – blank answer boxes should be avoided! 

At KCH Garden Square, demand for places consistently, and significantly, outstrips the number of places we have available, so at present applications will only be considered from those at Undergraduate level or above.

How long is a Mini-Pupillage?

Placement length varies between sets, but usually they’re anywhere between two days and a week. At KCH Garden Square, placements are typically three days and we aim to give our mini-pupils one day shadowing each of family, civil and criminal law to make the most of having a placement in a multi-disciplinary set.

What should I wear?

Think about what you might wear for an interview and you should be fine. Smart, dark office wear is ideal – this will usually be black or dark coloured suits and dresses or trousers or skirts with a shirt/smart top, but this is not prescriptive. We point our mini-pupils in the direction of the Bar Council information concerning court dress code available here.

What can you expect?

Hopefully you’ll have done a bit of research before you apply for a placement and before you arrive for your first day, so you should have a good idea of the work the set do. At KCH Garden Square, like most sets, you’ll be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before you head off with Counsel. Mini-Pupils are generally in court most days, seeing a range of cases & every day is different, but this is all part of what a barristers day to day life is like!

I would encourage mini-pupils to prepare for their placements by knowing the very basics of where they’re going and what time they’re expected. Use google maps if the city or area is unfamiliar and don’t be late!

The role of a mini-pupil is to observe, so soak up what is going on. Listen carefully throughout, think about the different styles of advocacy, the application of the law and observe the interactions between other Counsel, Court staff and the Judge.

Remember that whilst a mini-pupillage is a learning experience for you, for clients, attending Court or going through the legal process is often a daunting and stressful experience so appreciate and respect this & do not offer your thoughts or advice to clients under any circumstance.


I wish every applicant the best of luck in securing a mini-pupillage and, if the experience confirms that life at the Bar is for you, in securing Pupillage too.

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