Pupillage and Mini-Pupillage
At 5 King’s Bench Walk, we regard pupillage as an essential investment in the future of Chambers and the Bar.
Chambers seeks to select those applicants who have the potential to become exceptional advocates. Prospective pupils must be articulate and well-motivated individuals who can demonstrate academic excellence, high standards of presentation and communication skills, sound judgement and a practical approach to problem solving.
An Overview of Pupillage
The Application Process
Chambers is looking to recruit two pupils to start in October 2025.
All pupillage applications must be submitted through the Pupillage Gateway.
The following timetable for applications applies:
- Publication of adverts on Pupillage Gateway: Monday 27th November 2023
- Applications open: Wednesday 3rd January 2024
- Applications close: Wednesday 7th February 2024
- First round interviews: TBC
- Second round interviews: TBC
- Offers made: Friday 10th May 2024
Each application form will be independently marked by two members of Chambers, with the marks then subject to a standardisation process so as to ensure consistency and fairness. Forms are anonymised before being provided to the markers, who are unaware of [a candidate’s name, age, ethnicity and university]. Forms are marked according to the following criteria – academics; advocacy experience; hard work and commitment to the criminal bar; and presentation. Successful candidates have usually, but not always, obtained at least a 2:1 in their undergraduate degrees. Any extenuating circumstances put forward will be taken into account, as will a rounded view of the application form as a whole. At all stages of the process, candidates are marked by reference to the stage they have reached in their legal education.
We aim to invite about 30 candidates to the first round interview. The interview panel will consist of two to three members of chambers, representing a range of seniority levels within chambers. The interview consists of a discussion topic, which will be presented to the candidate once the interview has begun, as well as questions arising from the written application form. The interview lasts in the region of 15-20 minutes. Candidates are primarily marked according to the quality of their advocacy and the cogency of their arguments.
Around 12 candidates are invited to the second round interview, which last no longer than 30 minutes. The interview panel will consist of at least five members of chambers, including at least one KC. The interview consists of an advocacy exercise, as well as further questions which arise from the written application form. Candidates are again primarily marked according to the quality of their advocacy and the cogency of their arguments.
We can provide feedback on request to unsuccessful candidates who reach the interview stage.
The funding for pupillages commencing from October 2025 onwards will be a package equivalent of up to £30,000 for 12 months, made up of £15,000 for the first six, and guaranteed earnings (receipts) of £15,000 for the second six months.
Pupillage at 5KBW
1st Six Months
During your 1st Six at 5 King’s Bench Walk, you will have one pupil supervisor. You will share your pupil supervisor’s room and will have an opportunity to meet other members of Chambers. During your 1st Six (and 2nd Six when you are not in court) you are expected to accompany your pupil supervisor during the working week.
During the 1st Six Months you will learn by reading briefs, preparing draft written work, carrying out legal research for your pupil supervisor and other members of Chambers and attending court and conferences. This period is not only designed to ensure that you observe work which is interesting, informative and thought-provoking, but also to ensure that you are properly prepared to begin your own practice. Chambers uses the Bar Council Criminal Checklist as the basis of the work that should be undertaken during the course of pupillage.
Pupils will be provided with an Oyster card covering travel from zones 1-2 in London. If your pupil supervisor is appearing outside this area, he or she may make arrangements for you to accompany another member of Chambers.
If your pupil supervisor is absent from Chambers (or working outside the Greater London area) for a prolonged period for any reason, Chambers will arrange for you to be assigned temporarily or permanently to another member of Chambers.
2nd Six Months
You will be allocated a new pupil supervisor at this stage. During the 2nd Six Months you will appear predominantly in the Magistrates Court. Preparation for this stage will have been comprehensive during your 1st Six and Chambers will ensure that your progression to getting on your feet is accomplished smoothly.
At this stage your own practice will assume priority as far as your responsibilities are concerned, but you are still required to assist your pupil supervisor or other members of Chambers. During this period you can expect to be in court most days, if not twice a day, initially in the Magistrates Courts but shortly thereafter in the Crown Courts where pupils will deal with matters such as pleas and directions, mentions, etc. before moving on and undertaking their own Crown Court trials.
Towards the end of the completion of your 2nd Six, you will be invited to apply for a tenancy or a 3rd Six.
3rd Six Months
The volume of work in Chambers ensures that 3rd Six pupils enjoy a busy diary and are in court almost every day, a significant part of which is in the Crown Court. In addition, through contact with members, they have an opportunity to gain experience in different areas of criminal law as well as an insight into more complex and serious cases.
Assessing Your Progress
Throughout the course of pupillage, you will be assessed for the required competencies by your pupil supervisors, members of Chambers for whom you have carried out significant work and any who have had the opportunity of seeing your work in court. We make every effort to ensure that the assessment process is open and fair. We are committed to a structured appraisal system thereby ensuring an open and frank discussion from which all parties can benefit. Every pupil supervisor should encourage his/her pupil to approach him/her at any time in order to discuss any difficulties that the pupil may be encountering.
In-House Advocacy Programme
Chambers runs its own in-house Advocacy Programme. The main purpose of this programme is intended to be educational, however, it does give members of Chambers the opportunity to assess the advocacy skills of pupils. The programme is conducted throughout the pupillage period and consists of individual monthly sessions, during the course of which pupils perform advocacy exercises in front of members of the Pupillage Committee and other tenants. Chambers organises a mock trial for all pupils, in a London court, designed to provide an authentic experience of court before getting on their feet. All members of Chambers are invited to participate in or observe this exercise.
Life as a Pupil
Here, three of our recent pupils, all now tenants, share their experience of life as pupil at 5 King’s Bench Walk.
During my First Six months of pupillage, I shadowed several members of Chambers in a wide variety of criminal cases, from rape to drug importation, from murder to controlling and coercive behaviour. 5KBW have members who are specialists in a variety of areas of criminal law; it was through them that I soon grasped the level of dedication, meticulous attention to detail and flexibility necessary to succeed at the Criminal Bar. Amongst others, I shadowed my supervisor, Catherine Farrelly, who is a RASSO (Rape and Serious Sexual Offences) prosecutor, but also Defence Counsel Paul Jackson in a 3-week manslaughter trial. Through these opposing experiences and others, I learnt the skills required not only inside but outside a courtroom which are essential to become an effective barrister.
Outside court, I completed work for other members of Chambers. This enhanced my ability to draft a wide array of documents, from skeleton arguments, to advising upon evidence, to producing schedules and taking notes in conferences. As well as receiving detailed and encouraging feedback, I was able to introduce myself to many of the members of Chambers and put faces to names who I had yet to meet. Chambers also held regular advocacy sessions, culminating in my participation in a mock list of cases at Blackfriars Crown Court at the end of my First Six, both prosecuting and defending as if in reality. The experience was invaluable in preparing me for making the overall process of ‘getting on my feet’ in Second Six less daunting and in again providing useful feedback.
What stood out from even prior to my commencing pupillage was the friendliness and welcoming nature of members of 5KBW. This continued throughout my 18-month pupillage: no one was too busy to answer any question, however small, and everyone was willing to offer their guidance, help or support at any opportunity. Such assistance bolstered my own confidence when conducting my own cases in the Magistrates’ Court, Youth court and Crown Court in a variety of first appearances, sentences, trials, mentions and PTPHs.
I am in no doubt that through pupillage at 5KBW I received the best possible preparation for my own career at the Criminal Bar.
Throughout pupillage I had the opportunity to observe and work on a number of cases across the spectrum of criminal law, from theft in the Magistrates’ Court to murder at the Old Bailey.
During my first six, I was supervised by Charlotte Newell, who was defending in two multi-handed murder trials involving youth defendants. Following this I shadowed Natasha Wong QC and Paul Walker as they defended in an FGM trial at the Old Bailey. Thereafter I spent three weeks at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service with Sarah Forshaw QC, who was representing a doctor in regulatory proceedings.
Prior to getting ‘on my feet’, I shadowed junior tenants in the Magistrates’ Court, observing trials, first appearances and other hearings. This was great exposure to the reality of life at the junior bar; it’s fast-paced, immensely challenging but never dull.
I undertook advocacy training throughout the year, culminating in an advocacy exercise at Blackfriars Crown Court. The advice and encouragement I received increased my skill level and confidence.
In my second six I was in court every day, prosecuting and defending in the Magistrates’ Court, Youth Court and Crown Court. I was also led by Pauline Thompson in a multi-handed Trading Standards prosecution at Croydon Crown Court. In addition, I continued to complete written work for members of chambers, which included drafting advices, defence statements and skeleton arguments.
Pupillage at 5KBW was tough but hugely rewarding. There is an ethos of camaraderie within chambers and I was both challenged and encouraged throughout. I am sure the experience has stood me in good stead for a career at the Bar.
I spent much of my First Six shadowing my pupil supervisor, Catherine Farrelly, who was prosecuting a number of serious and complex cases both as a led junior and a junior alone, from cases of murder at the Old Bailey to a sophisticated and high-profile Conspiracy to Burgle at Kingston Crown Court. I also had the opportunity to shadow a number of other members of chambers, including Natasha Wong QC and Valeria Swift as they defended a case of murder.
During this time, I was trusted by the members of chambers to contribute to the case at hand. They always afforded plenty of time to discuss what I had learned and what I could take from my experiences with them to develop my own advocacy and build my practice when I eventually commenced Second Six.
I also had the opportunity to shadow junior tenants as they carried out work in the Magistrates’ Court, which gave me the first realistic idea of just how accelerated the pace of work is and how quickly you have to think on your feet when you are at the junior Bar.
I regularly drafted advices, case summaries, skeleton arguments, and defence statements for members of chambers, as well as carrying out research for them. This continued throughout my pupillage. We also had regularly scheduled advocacy sessions, which continued to take place over Zoom during the pandemic. All of the tenants, both junior and senior, were willing to come and assist with these exercises to help us to improve.
I was luckily still able to participate in an advocacy exercise at Inner London Crown Court just before the pandemic hit. I conducted exercises before members of chambers in the manner that I would do when I commenced Second Six. Whilst initially a daunting experience (the public gallery was packed full!), my knowledge, confidence and advocacy were greatly improved by the constructive feedback and support I received from all members of chambers.
I spent every day in Court during my Second Six. This included prosecuting and defending in the Youth Court, Magistrates Court and the Crown Court, conducting everything from first appearances, to PTPHs, to trials. Each day was a new challenge, and my experiences in my First Six helped me to adapt quickly to the pace of life at the junior bar. I was also instructed as a prosecution noting junior with Anthony Orchard QC on two separate murder Trials where he acted as a QC alone, which was a demanding but very rewarding experience.
Pupillage at 5KBW is just that; demanding, but very rewarding. The culture of chambers is to ensure that both their members and their pupils feel respected and supported, which is an incredibly important feature of any pupillage. I have undoubtedly been given the very best training to commence my career at the Bar.
Access To The Bar
We are committed to equality of access to the Bar and actively encourage applicants from all underrepresented groups. All of our pupillage applications are anonymised appropriately to ensure equality in arms from the very outset of the application process.
We encourage candidates to give us a full picture of any mitigating circumstances within their application form where applicable. This can include anything you feel is relevant, and where any such circumstances apply they will be taken into consideration during the pupillage application process appropriately.
To read about some of our own members of Chambers’ routes to the Bar click here.
Pro Bono, Volunteering & Mentoring
In furtherance of our commitment to equality, diversity and equal opportunity Chambers and its members undertake outreach work to ensure that a career at the Criminal Bar is accessible and open to all. This includes work within the Inns of Court outreach programmes for students at universities across the country as well working with schools to encourage and teach the use of advocacy and debating from an early age.
Members of Chambers run and participate in advocacy programmes in schools across London with a focus on mentoring pupils for a future career at the Bar as well teaching skills necessary for such a career. For the past 2 years we have partnered with a school in Tottenham providing careers advice, advocacy exercises to their Law Society Group and work experience competitions.
The annual pupillage advocacy exercise, allows them to have an insight into life at the Criminal Bar but also to make the exercise as realistic as possible for our pupils before they start “on their feet”. We are working on broadening the scope of participants to include pupils at local schools.
Chambers is a partner of the flagship “Bridging the Bar” charity committed to increasing the quality of access to opportunities in the legal profession across all underrepresented groups. This is done through mentoring, offering mini-pupillages and engaging in workshops and other inclusion based activities. Not only does Chambers support this work as a whole, a huge number of individual members of Chambers also offer their support and assistance on an individual basis.
Chambers has also committed to the “10,000 Black Interns Programme” which aims to provide work experience in various sectors including law. The programme focuses on training and development opportunities and is committed to creating a sustainable cycle of mentorship and sponsorship for the Black community.
Many members of Chambers act individually as mentors for prospective barristers and volunteer their time through their Inns of Court or separate partnerships.
3rd Six and Tenancy Applications
3rd Six Applications
Applications for a 3rd Six Pupillage should be made in the form of a CV and covering letter addressed to email@example.com.
Pupils applying for tenancy at the conclusion of pupillage are invited to submit a letter to the joint Heads of Chambers with a CV and references from solicitors for whom they have worked and, if possible, judges before whom they have appeared in court. Any final decision on tenancy will be made at a meeting to which all members of Chambers are invited. All applications are considered in strict confidence.
MINI PUPILLAGES FOR 2023 ARE NOW FULL - Applications for 2024 will open on 1st October 2023.
We offer a number of mini-pupillages every year to those who may be interested in a career at the Criminal Bar.
Successful applicants will spend up to a week shadowing one or more barristers in Chambers. We make every effort to ensure that mini-pupils see a variety of cases during the week and you can expect to be in Court every day.
Those interested in undertaking a mini-pupillage in Chambers should send a copy of their CV and a brief covering letter to Nicki Crew: firstname.lastname@example.org explaining why they are interested in 5 King’s Bench Walk and a career at the criminal Bar. Unfortunately, given the extremely high demand for places, particularly during the breaks between terms, we are usually unable to accommodate requests for specific dates or requests to see a particular type of case. If there are special circumstances which mean that particular dates are required, please set those out and we will do our best to accommodate them.
Please note due to the sensitive nature of the work we do, we cannot offer pupillage to anyone under the age of 18.