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legal careers guide

10. Managing your legal career

This is the final step in the Student Employability Programme. Whether you’ve secured a training contract or pupillage, or you’re still looking for your first legal role, this Step looks at your options and the steps you can take to achieve your ambitions.

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Training Contracts

This Step focuses on the immediate next steps on graduation from the LPC or BPTC.

Training typically last two years and large firms usually operate a system of four, six-month seats for training contracts, whilst smaller firms are more flexible in their approach.

All trainees are required to gain experience across at least three areas of law and during training you are required to complete the Professional Skills Course – a short course that covers client care and professional standards, advocacy and communication, and financial and business skills.

Tips to impress during your training contract

Concentrate on:

  • Your attitude – you should be keen and confident, but not arrogant
  • Good communication and client service skills
  • Your research skills and your ability to apply your research to the matter in hand
  • Commercial and business awareness from tasks such as time recording to marketing and business development.

To help you achieve your career and work experience goals, Ulaw provides you with its Employability Service.


Pupillage consists of two six-month periods of training usually undertaken over the course of 12 months in the same chambers.

First six

The first of the six-month periods is non-practising meaning your time will be spent working with and observing your pupil supervisor. Typical tasks during this period include researching points of law, drafting advice and opinions, attending court and client conferences, and preparing skeleton arguments or pleadings.

Second six

If you successfully complete your first six you will receive a Provisional Practising Certificate, enabling you to provide legal services and exercise your Rights of Audience. With the permission of your supervisor, you can then take on your own work and represent others.

Securing tenancy

In addition to completing pupillage and passing the courses stipulated by the Bar Standards Board, you will need to secure tenancy. If you are not offered tenancy by your chambers at the end of your second six, you have a number of options:

  • Apply for tenancy in another chambers
  • Secure a third six pupillage at a different set of chambers from where you undertook your first and second six
  • ‘Squat’ in your current chambers as a short term arrangement, allowing you to take on work, but not as a member of chambers.
  • Apply for positions in-house at the employed Bar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Under the current rules, a BPC graduate who hasn’t completed pupillage would need to complete a training contract and pass the LPC – although there are exemptions available. See the SRA website for more information.

Whilst the qualification may not go out of date, you should bear in mind that if you don’t do anything in the legal sector after the LPC, your skills and knowledge will start to appear less relevant, so it’s important to stay in law in order to keep yourself current. See the SRA website for more information.

When can I call myself a barrister?

Once you are Called to the Bar, you will become a barrister. Just be careful using this title in connection with any legal work you may undertake, until you have completed a pupillage.


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