We are looking for highly motivated, hardworking pupils who have the potential to be exceptional advocates. Life at the Bar can be physically exhausting as well as intellectually demanding.
Added to this, a significant proportion of Chambers work, particularly criminal work, is outside London (predominantly in the Midlands). You will therefore be expected to travel to some distant court centres and follow a demanding schedule. We need to be sure that our pupils are truly keen on, and committed to, life at the Bar and life in our Chambers in particular.
You will need to demonstrate that you have the necessary intellectual and analytical skills to be able to identify, and advise on, complex legal issues. You will need first-rate communication skills, both oral and written. In deciding whether to invite you to interview, we mark your application form under the following heads. Please ensure that all relevant information is set out on the form in a clear, concise way, having regard to any word limits applicable.
(a) School qualifications
Points will be awarded to reflect A level grades. Additional marks will be awarded for each Merit or Distinction gained in an Advanced Extension Award. For candidates whose qualifications are other than A Levels (e.g. Scottish Highers, BTEC, International Baccalaureate), marks will be based on the published UCAS tariff so that a fair, equivalent mark can be given.
(b) University qualifications
Save in exceptional circumstances, a minimum upper second class honours degree is required, irrespective of the discipline or educational establishment awarding the degree. Additional points are awarded for a first class honours degree or postgraduate qualifications (not including a law conversion course or the BPTC), university academic awards, scholarships or prizes. Any exceptional circumstances explaining why your degree fell short of our minimum standard must be set out on your application form and independently verifiable.
(c) Work experience
Most of our applicants apply while still in full time education and may only have experienced “student jobs.” We bear this in mind when considering work experience. We will also take into account any personal circumstances you mention which may have made it difficult for you to obtain work experience. Whatever your work experience, paid or voluntary, we want to know whether it has helped you to prepare for life at the Bar. In addition to non-legal work experience, we are looking for evidence that you have shown a real interest in a career at the Bar. We will expect you to have done some research and to have undertaken one or two mini-pupillages – we do not expect pupils to have collected a string of them. There are many other ways of gathering relevant experience, whether through working for the FRU, CAB, a student or community advisory service, or simply from observing what goes on in your local Crown or County Court.
(d) Life experience
We would like you to tell us about your non-work activities, achievements and those experiences which could identify you as a potentially outstanding advocate. We are interested in pursuits which demonstrate qualities such as self-reliance, initiative, motivation, imagination, strength of character, organisation or leadership.
(e) Potential as an advocate
We are looking for evidence of an ability to communicate effectively and persuasively, whether developed at school, university, work or otherwise. We are interested not just in traditional activities such as debating and mooting, but in any experience which demonstrates the above skills, such as acting, broadcasting, journalism, heading a fund-raising or political campaign or acting as a student representative.
Up to five points will be awarded for the way in which you present yourself in your application form and for addressing the areas covered in the form in a focused, succinct and persuasive way.
(g) Other special features
We will take into account other exceptional features, not specifically covered in the marking scheme above, such as a unique personal achievement or success in overcoming a particular difficulty. We may award further marks under this category because the marking scheme above did not allow full recognition of outstanding academic or other distinction or contribution to the community.
(h) The Chambers’ Set question
There is a Chambers’-specific question for you to answer as part of your application. This is a legal question which will require some research and preparation. This is an important part of the application process. Applications where an answer to the question has not been attempted will not be considered further. Marks will be awarded for both the legal content and the clarity and conciseness of the answer given.
At least two members of Chambers independently mark each application. The results are then moderated to ensure consistency of marking. The 50 or so top candidates judged by these criteria will then be invited to interview.
These are conducted by two members of Chambers, and last no more than 20 minutes.
These will all take place on the same date. However in exceptional circumstances we may be able to conduct first round interviews on an earlier date. These will be on a first come first served basis and any requests will be considered on their merits.
Before the interview we will send you a legal problem. You will be asked to prepare a short written answer to the problem and send it into chambers a few days before the interview. The question and your answer will be discussed. We are not looking for legal perfection but for people who can analyse a problem, marshal a cogent, reasoned argument and present a case attractively and persuasively, both orally and in writing.
You will also be asked questions about the information you have provided on your application form.
You will be marked on the following:
From the first round of interviews, the ten candidates scoring highest under the above criteria will be invited for a final interview. You will be informed of the outcome of the first interview within seven days.
As per the application timetable, there is one date for the final interview each year. Please note that this is the only date upon which the interviewing panel can meet, so no other final interview date will be available.
Your interviewing panel will comprise about six to eight members of Chambers drawn from different practice areas and levels of seniority. The final interview will last approximately twenty minutes. We ask candidates to arrive about 20 minutes before the interview. On arrival you will be given a topical issue, often raising an ethical or moral problem, and asked to present one side of the argument to the panel. This exercise will not require any legal knowledge; it is designed solely to test your ability as a persuasive advocate and to “think on your feet”. The same marking criteria will be used as in the first interview, with the marks adapted to reflect the lack of a written element at this stage. Marks from the first interview are not carried forward.
Formal offers of pupillage will be made once the final interviews have been completed.