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How to apply for pupillage and ace your interview

Applying for pupillage can be daunting but do not fear, we have compiled our top tips for the application so you can enter the interview feeling confident and ready.

By Cara Fielder. Published 23 November 2022. Last updated 24 November 2022.

What is pupillage?

Pupillage is a great way to network, and build your contacts within the legal sector, it is the final stage of training before becoming a barrister. During this time, you put into practice everything you have learnt so far. Pupillage is essential if your goal is to practise as a barrister. Pupillage is completed in one year, with the year divided into two six-month periods (known as 'sixes'). Each six is spent in a set of chambers, under the guidance and supervision of a junior barrister.

In the first six months, you will be shadowing a barrister (or two) this will include accompanying them to court, conferences and consultations as well as providing assistance with their papers. In the second six months, you are in the practice stage, where you will have a provisional practising certificate and be able to provide legal services to the public, under supervision.

Application tips

Applications for pupillage are made via the Pupillage Gateway, applications open in January and close a month later in February. However, you can browse vacancies and start preparing your applications before this, from late November. It is advised that you apply for pupillage at least a year before you wish to start.

Make sure you do your research, it is important to apply to chambers that are right for you and your career goals. You also want to have a good experience and making an informed decision about where to do it will help to ensure that.

Start your application as soon as possible, this will give you plenty of time to ensure you really show your passion. In addition, it gives time to get your application checked by lecturers and tutors for mistakes.

It is important to back your claims by providing evidence of where you have applied yourself and what you achieved. Show don’t just tell.  

Make sure you’re clear and concise with a linear narrative. The reader wants to enjoy reading your application and learning about you so ensuring it is well-written and easy to follow will help achieve this.

How to ace the interview

Once you have blown away admissions with your application you should be invited for an interview. This can often be the step where nerves really start to set in, but knowing you already have impressed them with the application should help you to feel more confident.

Make sure you listen carefully to the interviewer and answer specifically what they have asked. It can be easy to waffle and go off on tangents when you’re nervous.  If you notice yourself doing this bring yourself back to the question they have asked.

Stay up to date, being caught out in an interview with a topical question that you don’t know can rock the interview. To avoid this from happening it’s important to keep up to date on what is going on in the news and identify any legal implications.

A great way to prepare yourself is through mock interviews, ask your mentor or, if you’re one of our students, our careers service for a mock interview to practice answering questions in an interview setting. Feeling prepared will help your confidence and reduce nerves.

Most importantly be yourself, show your personality and who you are, it will help leave a lasting impression on the interviewer.

You can listen to current students and members of our Employability Team, Josh Bibby, Amy Weir and Charlotte Arundale discuss preparing for pupillage on The University of Law podcast now.


Find out how our Bar Practice Course (BPC) and award-winning Careers and Employability Service can support you with preparing and applying for pupillage.