December 1 2016

My Mini-Pupillage at a London Chambers

Notorious for its prestigious reputation, a career at the Bar is not one to be underestimated. My experience as a mini pupil at Hardwicke Chambers earlier this November confirmed this infamous reputation: late nights, early mornings and stacks of meticulous paperwork.  Situated in Lincolns Inn, the composure and calmness away from the busy London streets is instantly unique, and if that isn’t enough then the 16th Century Gate House and historic architecture will certainly impress.

I started my week with a visit to the Royal Courts of Justice, a two-minute walk from Lincolns Inn. This instantly exposed me to the working style and culture of a barrister, and I really got a sense of the day to day workings of a courtroom. As a Geography student, I was initially worried my minimal knowledge of the legal system would limit my understanding and enjoyment of the week but I soon knew this wouldn’t be the case. From there, much of my time was spent in Construction, a specialism at Hardwicke, where I read through adjudications and attended client meetings. The realities of the trade involved so much more reading than I originally expected, and as barristers are regarded as experts in their field of law the job really does require continual learning. However, a career at the Bar involves so many more skills than simply a legal awareness, and I was genuinely inspired by those that I shadowed with their alertness, diligence and humility.

Overall, I really recommend undertaking a mini pupillage for anyone who is uncertain of which side of the legal profession they would like to go down. From being a mini pupil, I developed a respect for the Law that I didn’t previously realise, and it solidified my understanding of the differences between a solicitor and a barrister. The oversubscription and massive competitiveness at the Bar is my only remaining concern when considering pursuing this career, but there is something to be said for those who succeed in it – which almost makes it more appealing.

My advice to anyone on the fence is to simply go for it. Chambers only take applications for mini pupillages at certain times so you must check the details that each Chambers will specify, and some Chambers will assess their mini pupils, so it would be wise to complete a few unassessed mini pupillages before embarking on these. To maximise your chances ensure you know which Inn that Chambers is a part of – your membership to an Inn is for life and Chambers like to see you have done your research.

Claudia Fordham-Moss

Member of Durham University Women in Business