Pupillage at Twenty Essex offers the opportunity to train with barristers at the top of their profession in a highly successful, international and friendly set at the cutting edge of commercial and public international law.
Pupillage is our chance to teach you to excel as a junior barrister. We are proud of our bespoke training programme and its fantastic results: in recent years over 80% of our pupils have been offered tenancy at the end of their pupillage.
Ordinarily, mini-pupillage is compulsory. We only interview candidates who have completed, or been offered, a mini-pupillage in Chambers. In light of the disruption caused by COVID-19, for applications for pupillage starting in 2022, this requirement has been suspended.
We continue to offer virtual mini-pupillages, so please apply for these via our form. The deadlines for mini-pupillage applications are the end of November, January and June each year.
If you have any questions about pupillage or mini-pupillage do please email us on email@example.com
What we offer
We look after our pupils, providing a generous award and a superb training programme. We do not just test: we teach. For example, before pupils take part in our assessed advocacy exercises, we run unassessed advocacy training sessions, together with a briefing from a junior tenant to explain the format of the assessed exercises and good strategies for dealing with the material.
Experts in chambers provide specialised training for our pupils, including sessions on advocacy at remote hearings, negotiation, document presentation, cyber security and ethics. In addition, our pupils benefit hugely from a number of meetings with our CEO, Practice Management and Marketing Teams, spread throughout the year, to teach crucial practice management and business development skills.
We also place a high value on maintaining a positive work/ life balance: see What to expect from pupillage.
As to the financial side, our pupillage award currently stands at £70,000, of which up to £25,000 can be drawn down during the year before pupillage. The balance of the award is paid monthly, with 2/3rds paid in the first six months (non-taxable) and 1/3 in the second six months. Pupils have 23 days holiday per year. During pupillage we also provide a desktop computer to each pupil, pay for our pupils’ compulsory courses and pay travel expenses to court or arbitration.
Chambers’ generous parental leave code applies on an equivalent basis to our pupils, permitting pupillages to be postponed or interrupted by two years, or longer. We make reasonable adjustments for candidates at both mini pupillage and pupillage.
What we look for
Our aim is to recruit pupils of exceptional ability who are interested in our fields of work and will stand an excellent chance of being offered tenancy.
We are looking not only for intellectual ability but also the other attributes that make for a successful barrister, such as strong interpersonal and communication skills, and an ability to collaborate and deliver consistently excellent client service. We are equally receptive to applicants with law and non-law degrees, and those moving career. Further details are set out in our selection criteria.
Pupillage offers are made on the basis of the candidate’s application form, assessment during any mini-pupillage with chambers, contextual recruitment data, a standardised piece of assessed written work and performance at interview. We work hard to ensure that our application process gives all candidates, whatever their circumstances, the opportunity to shine. Chambers has an active equality and diversity committee and adheres to the BSB Equality and Diversity Rules. We are proud that in 2018 we were the first chambers to adopt Rare’s Contextual Recruitment System, something which many other top sets have recently begun to use.
We are also a partner set of Bridging the Bar’s mini-pupillage programme.
How to apply
- The application
Chambers recruits via the Pupillage Gateway. Pupillage applications normally open in January and close at the start of February. Applications from law undergraduates are normally made during their final year, non-law graduates apply, at the earliest, whilst studying for the GDL and we welcome applications from those at later educational and career stages.
Applications are reviewed by at least two members of chambers, take into account performance during any mini-pupillage, and are scored against our selection criteria.
The results of the Rare Contextual Recruitment system are applied to these scores. Each year, this has a real impact, both on our ranking of applicants and on the final interview shortlist. By the beginning of March each year we have our final interview shortlist. We normally invite 20-25 candidates to interview.
We ask shortlisted candidates to do a written exercise in the week before their interview. There is a strict four-page limit and it has to be completed within one working day. No caselaw should be referred to, it is not a test of legal knowledge. The answers are anonymised and are marked by all panel members before the interviews.
- The interview
Interviews are normally held on the third Friday and Saturday in March. They last 30 minutes and involve a discussion of the written problem, together with questions designed to cover each of our selection criteria.
The problem discussed at interview is intended to test your ability to analyse and explore the issues raised and justify your conclusions. It is not a test of your legal knowledge and you are not expected to be able to name specific cases during the discussion.
Our most recent interview panel consisted of Michael Coburn QC, Julian Kenny QC, Susannah Jones, Belinda McRae and Jemma Tagg (our CEO). We offer up to £100 for the expenses of travelling to interview and provide feedback to candidates on request.
What to expect from pupillage
We aim to give our pupils the best possible training to succeed at the Bar. Alongside our bespoke programme of training sessions (see What we offer) we work hard to ensure that our pupils’ day-to-day experience is rewarding and beneficial, and to give detailed constructive feedback on every aspect of their work.
Pupils are also welcomed into sociable life within chambers, with weekly casual chambers’ Thursday night drinks, and regular junior tenant gatherings.
Every piece of written work is scored against our selection criteria, with in depth written comments and a grade for each criterion tested. The process is run via our bespoke system, which gives supervisors a very useful tool to check when feedback is given, see the details of each assessment and ensure that pupils have covered the necessary parts of our bespoke checklist.
Alongside the detailed feedback, the assessor identifies for the pupil the single most important suggestion as to how the piece of work could have been improved. We find this an invaluable tool to ensure that the pupil comes away from the task with a clear, constructive way to refine their skills.
Pupillage is not a feat of endurance, but an opportunity for pupils to show their best during productive working hours. We expect our pupils to work hard during the normal working week, but do not expect them to work late hours in chambers or at weekends, or to take work home. It is each supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that their pupil is not given more work to do than they can reasonably cope with during the working week. We foster a supportive environment, aided by the fact our pupils are not competing with each other for limited places. We have a mentor/buddy system, with two friendly juniors offering informal support, in confidence if needed, to each pupil.
The structure of pupillage
Our pupils sit with four supervisors over the year, sitting with each for around three months. At the end of each seat, the pupil is given a detailed appraisal by their supervisor and targets are set for the next three months.
Pupils begin by working mainly for their supervisor and many of our key training sessions take place during these first three months, such as the unassessed advocacy training. As the year progresses, the assessed advocacy training takes place. Given the increase in remote hearings, we provide specific training for remote hearings. Pupils also work for other barristers at varying levels of seniority. There is a list of core assessors and it is the responsibility of supervisors to make sure that their pupil has worked with as many of those barristers as possible.
In March the progress of pupils is reviewed at a meeting of all members, following which the pupil’s prospects of being offered a tenancy are discussed between the pupil and their supervisor. Whatever indication is given at this meeting, pupils are welcome to complete their pupillage with us, and almost always do.
The tenancy decision and beyond
We hope that all our pupils will become junior tenants. There are no pre-determined numbers and if a pupil is good enough, they will be offered tenancy.
Tenancy decisions are taken at a meeting in early July. The Pupillage Committee makes a non-binding recommendation, but all members vote. In recent years, over 80% of our pupils have been offered tenancy at the end of their pupillage.
New tenants will have a busy and wide-ranging commercial practice offering an outstanding level of practice support from our dynamic and experienced practice management team.
The financial rewards are significant. New tenants’ earnings soon match and exceed those of contemporaries at the Bar or at City solicitors’ firms. In addition, new tenants enjoy generous concessions in their first year of practice, with interest free loans available and no room rent to pay for the first twelve months.
As an international practice, right from the start of tenancy there are options to travel worldwide, including to our chambers in Singapore and the opportunity of secondments overseas and in the UK. Chambers has an inclusive, friendly and responsible culture, with many members who work part-time or flexibly, or who have taken career breaks.