Pupillage banner

Main navigation

We select pupils with the potential to become first-class advocates who we hope will become tenants in chambers and remain with us for many years.

Pupillage is a vital stage of a barrister's career. It is an opportunity, through both observation and active participation, to gain skills which the pupil will use throughout his or her career.

We offer two twelve-month pupillages a year, commencing in October. Each pupil spends four months with three supervisors, allowing continuity of supervision as they transition from their non-practising first six to handling their own cases in their second six.

It has been a long-standing policy of chambers to only recruit our junior tenants from those who have successfully completed pupillage with us, and to recruit tenants based only on individual merit.

The Pupillage Year

Throughout their pupillage, pupils will be asked to attend court and conferences with their supervisor, research areas of law, and work on papers. They are encouraged to assist other members of chambers with research and paperwork. Where a pupil wishes to gain experience of a particular type of work, chambers strives to arrange this.

In their second six months, pupils can expect to appear in court in their own right on a daily basis. Whilst much of their work will be in the magistrates' courts throughout London and the South East, conducting the full range of work from first appearances to summary trials, pupils will on occasion travel further afield and will also have the opportunity to gain experience of advocacy in the Crown Court.

We run an established programme of continuing education for pupils, consisting of a course of seminars presented by tenants, and a series of advocacy exercises, focussing on the kind of work that pupils can expect to encounter in their practice as a pupil and as a junior tenant. These include bail applications, pleas in mitigation, opening speeches, abuse of process arguments, and submissions of no case to answer.

Pupils who are not offered tenancy are allowed to remain in chambers for up to four weeks after being notified of that decision. Our pupils who are not offered tenancy are invariably successful in applications for third-six pupillages in other leading criminal sets.

Life as a Pupil

Chloe Hucker, a junior tenant at 5PB, writes about her experience in pupillage.

First Six

The first six months of pupillage provided an excellent opportunity to get a feel for life at the Criminal Bar. It was a chance to observe some excellent advocacy and gain experience of some of the work more senior members of chambers undertake. I accompanied my supervisor to various courts for cases including attempted murder to complex fraud. I also visited the Court of Appeal on a handful of occasions where I saw some fascinating legal arguments, made by some of the best advocates at the criminal bar. 

Day to day my supervisor would involve me in discussions about ongoing cases; we would discuss case strategy, potential strengths and weaknesses and how to tackle these in practice. I attended conferences, took notes at hearings and carried out written work which ranged from last minute research to drafting more substantial pieces of advice which would be provided to the client.

I had two pupil supervisors during my first six; this was beneficial going in to my second six as it meant I had got to know my second supervisor before going to court on my own – and calling him up for advice. There were also opportunities to get to know other members of chambers. I spent some time going to court with tenants other than my supervisor and pupils were and still are encouraged to join in at social events, including the much-loved Christmas party.

Throughout my first six everyone in chambers was exceptionally helpful. Chambers was committed to ensuring that both me and my co-pupil were getting the most out of our experience and consistently learning. As part of that, we were given a number of seminars on key areas of criminal law and advocacy, which particularly helped in preparing us for what was to come in the second six months of pupillage.

Second Six

On day 2 of my second six, I was given my first case. Since then, I spent almost every day in court. My practice mostly consisted of general crime at the magistrates’ court; travelling to weird and wonderful locations for summary trials, bail applications and sentencing hearings. The feeling of winning my first trial is something I won’t soon forget.

I also frequently visited the Crown Court for case management hearings, sentencing hearings or bail applications. I was often given cases at the last minute and during this time I noticed just how much I was learning; I would quickly become comfortable with something which felt daunting at first.

Second six was very fun, but also required a lot of hard work and determination. Alongside my own cases, I would do work for other members of chambers and so I had to manage my time carefully. This included researching obscure points of law or drafting the grounds for an appeal at short notice – again teaching me much needed skills for life at the Bar. My co-pupil and I were also given a number of advocacy exercises which we performed in front of members of chambers. Whilst more nerve-wracking than being in court, these exercises provided a rare and invaluable opportunity to obtain some feedback on my advocacy which has definitely helped me going forward.

Overall, I had a fantastic pupillage experience at 5PB. I learnt a lot, gained in confidence and know that the year has laid the foundations for a successful career as a tenant

Applying for Pupillage

All applications for pupillages must be made through the Pupillage Gateway.

We seek applicants who are highly articulate and possess strong analytical and intellectual abilities. We are looking for individuals who will fit in to our friendly working environment. We encourage our pupils to participate fully in Chambers' life, but do not expect them to do so at the expense of their outside interests. We value the importance of diversity at the bar and particularly welcome applications from individuals from non-traditional backgrounds.

There are three stages to our selection process:

  1. Each application form is considered independently by at least three members of Chambers.

  2. We invite around 40 applicants to attend for an initial interview, which is short and relatively informal.

  3. Around a third of those initially interviewed are invited back to chambers for a second interview. This interview includes an advocacy exercise, which candidates will be given time to prepare prior to the interview commencing.

Applicants are accordingly assessed by reference to the following criteria:

  • Lively intelligence

  • Advocacy skills

  • Sound judgment

  • Written skills: presenting arguments, giving advice and drafting documents

  • Personal skills: ability to communicate with solicitors, clients and experts

  • Ability to analyse documentation and oral information, and to identify salient issues

  • Attention to detail

  • Professional stamina/capacity for hard work

  • Independence of mind

  • Tenacity

  • Ability to relate well to others

  • Ability to work both alone and as part of a team

Successful candidates for pupillage usually, but not invariably, have obtained at least a 2:1 in their undergraduate degree.

We are happy to make reasonable adjustments to enable candidates to demonstrate their suitability to become pupils, and if successful in their pupillage, tenants.

Financial Award

Our financial award for pupils commencing in 2023 is £40,000.

This is made up of an award of £30,000, paid in the first six months, plus £10,000 guaranteed earnings in the second six months. In addition, our pupils do not pay clerks' fees on earnings.

Up to £1,000 of the award can be provided in advance once the BPTC has been successfully completed.

During the first six months, travel expenses outside the M25 are reimbursed by Chambers.

Probationary Tenancy (formerly known as third six pupillage)

From time to time, 5PB invites applications for probationary tenancies (formerly known as third six pupillage).

See: 5 Paper Buildings (no deadline) (barcouncil.org.uk)