Pupillage

Deans Court Chambers offers 12-month pupillages which, whilst emphasising a candidate's chosen field of practice, include rotation between practice groups.

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PUPILLAGE 

PUPILLAGE APPLICATIONS IN 2024/5 - are now closed

Thank you to all those who applied, you will be contacted in due course.

 

Overview and Information

Deans Court Chambers melds tradition and quality with a modern, innovative, and forward-thinking approach to providing specialist advocacy, advisory and drafting expertise across a wide spectrum of practice areas at every level of seniority.

With around 100 barristers, including 10 King’s Counsel, and premises at 24 St. John Street, Manchester, and 101 Walker Street, Preston, Deans Court Chambers stands out as one of the leading barristers' chambers in the country and is regularly ranked by all major Legal Directories as one of the top sets on the Northern Circuit.

Voted ‘Regional Set of the Year’ at the Chambers Bar Awards in 2020 and 2013 and 'Barristers Chambers of the Year’ at the 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018 & 2021 Manchester Legal Awards, our reputation for professionalism and approachability is underpinned by a rigorous quality policy, selective and sensible recruitment and fostering a culture of a friendly, cohesive and progressive set of Chambers.

Deans Court Chambers operates an Equality and Diversity Policy and is committed to fair recruitment based on merit.

The Pupillage Recruitment Committee comprises Mr Nicholas Grimshaw, Miss Anna Bentley, Mr James Paterson, and Miss Virginia Hayton. When seeking to communicate with the Committee or in relation to pupillage matters generally, please do so in the first instance via the email address ajenkinson@deanscourt.co.uk. Our pupillage administrator, Alex Jenkinson, will deal with your enquiry or pass it on to the relevant member(s) of the Committee.

Deans Court Chambers supports and adheres to the BSB Code of Conduct, the Equality and Diversity Rules, the Bar Qualification Rules, Bar Qualification Manual and other regulatory provisions concerning pupillages applicable from time to time.

Chambers is committed to the BSB’s principles of effective communication, professionalism, learning and development and a culture of openness, honesty and providing the highest standards of advocacy to clients.

Read about how several members of Chambers became Barristers in our "Journey to the Bar" article - here or the banner below.

Pupillage Recruitment 

1. The responsibility for pupillage recruitment rests with Chambers’ Recruitment Committee. 

2. All mini pupils, pupils, tenants and staff are selected on merit alone, irrespective of sex, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and we encourage applications from groups which are under-represented in Chambers. We make reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates and any applicant who wishes to request that reasonable adjustments be made in relation to an application for pupillage should indicate their requirements on the Reasonable Adjustments Form. 

3. Applicants are also asked to complete an equal opportunity monitoring questionnaire (in accordance with the Bar Standards Board’s Equality and Diversity Rules), which is used for monitoring purposes only and is not considered by the Recruitment Committee in the course of the pupillage or mini pupillage application process. 

4. Chambers is a member of the Pupillage Gateway. For information regarding applications and deadlines, please visit the Pupillage Gateway website. Pupillage Gateway | Pupillage Gateway

 5. Chambers does not accept applications for a deferred pupillage (e.g. an application in 2022 for a pupillage commencing in October 2024, rather than October 2023) but may consider deferring or bringing forward the start of a successful applicant’s pupillage subject to the approval of the relevant committee. 

Criteria for Pupillage 

In considering prospective candidates for pupillage or mini pupillage, we concentrate on four criteria. 

- The requisite intellectual ability, as distinct from pure legal knowledge. At this stage, intellectual ability is usually measured by performance in university and school examinations and at interview and other experience. We may also require applicants to complete a piece of written work during the course of the selection process.

 - Potential as an advocate both in oral and written advocacy. 

- Personal qualities such as self-reliance, independence, integrity, reliability and the capacity to work effectively with clients, colleagues and Chambers’ staff. 

- Motivation to succeed in a career at the Bar, including the steps taken to acquire the personal qualities required of a barrister. 

Of these, we give the greatest weighting in our assessment process to intellectual ability. The aim of our selection process is to allow candidates to show they meet a standard of excellence judged by our objective selection criteria. 

The process focuses on your ability and aptitude, and our experience is that this is not pre-determined by the place that you studied, or the background that you come from. We welcome applications from candidates from all backgrounds and from all universities. We have no preference as to whether graduates complete a first degree in law or another subject. In assessing candidates against our criteria, we recognise that pupillage is itself a training process and that people follow different routes to pupillage and are often at different stages of their legal education. It is the potential of candidates we are concerned with. The aim of pupillage is to develop talent so that pupils go on to succeed as tenants in our chambers and enjoy successful careers

Mini-Pupillage 

Applications for mini pupillages may be made at any time of year. It is likely that the dates offered will coincide with specific mini-pupillage weeks in Chambers (normally arranged to coincide with academic holidays). We usually offer Mini-Pupillage’s for: 2 days duration Located at either our Manchester or Preston Chambers, although you may need to travel to a local court to gain the most valuable experience of life at the Bar.

Applications for mini-pupillage must be made via Chambers’ own mini-pupillage page which details what we require from applicants.

 When applying please indicate your likely availability for mini pupillage in the year following your application. Details of the planned mini-pupillage quarters and their associated deadlines are available, along with the application form, on the mini-pupillage page of the website 

As with applications for pupillage, we are willing to make reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates; again, details are available on the mini-pupillage page of the website. 

Assessment of applications for Mini-Pupillage

Chambers offers mini pupillages to afford an opportunity to those considering a career at the Bar to see what life is like at the Bar and in Chambers. As a reflection of the fact that the prospective mini pupils are likely to be at an earlier stage of their legal education, applications are not subjected to quite the same degree of assessment as for pupillage. However, we have limited availability of mini-pupillages and therefore we must apply some objective selection criteria.

Accordingly, all applications are assessed broadly in accordance with the criteria that we apply to pupillage applications. Of these we again weight intellectual ability more heavily than the other criteria.

12-month Pupillage

As it is our hope and ambition that each of our pupils should reach the required objective standard for tenancy, it follows that our general recruitment practice and intent is to select two 12-month pupils each year. However, we do not exclude excellence for the sake of a quota, and in appropriate years and to an appropriate group of candidates we may make offers of more than two 12-month pupillages. Providing they meet our standards of excellence; all pupils have an equal chance of obtaining tenancy and pupils do not compete with each other or for space in chambers. Accordingly, tenancy opportunities are equal in each year no matter what number of pupils is selected. Experience also shows that the number of junior tenants recruited in any year does not affect the prospects of those tenants developing a successful practice.

Our tenancy decision is taken at the conclusion of 9 months of pupillage, i.e. at the end of June or in early July each year. 

As indicated above, we recruit our tenants by reference to objective selection criteria. Any pupil who reaches that standard is made an offer of tenancy. No regard is taken of availability of work or accommodation in Chambers.

Funding for 12-month pupils. 

Our pupillage funding comprises a first six grant of £15,000 and earnings guarantee of £25,000 for the second six. The earnings guarantee is provided on the terms recommended by the Bar Council. We also meet course fees which arise during pupillage and pay reasonable travel expenses during the first six. 

The Pupillage Agreement

The latest version of the Chambers’ contract with pupils (“the Pupillage Agreement”) can be viewed by following this link. (LINK) It is amended and revised as necessary each year. The Pupillage Agreement sets out the respective obligations of pupils and chambers. It is a condition precedent of any offer that pupils provide documentary evidence of the satisfactory achievement of the academic and vocational stages of their training and certain other matters prior to the commencement of pupillage. If prior to the anticipated commencement date of your pupillage a pupil fails to pass the vocational component of Bar training (or, where applicable, the Bar Transfer Test), offers of pupillage will be reviewed.

Second 6-month Pupillages. 

We very occasionally offer second 6-month pupillages, but this is exceptional and is not part of our standard recruitment policy. Any applications should be submitted directly to the Recruitment Committee(recruitment@deanscourt.co.uk)  by letter and completed application form, and candidates should seek to demonstrate that they meet or exceed our objective standard of excellence expected from pupils at that stage of the year, i.e., the standard to be expected after 6 months of pupillage. 

Third 6-month Pupillages

Our own 12-month pupils are the primary pool from which we recruit. However, Chambers may decide whether it wishes to consider applications from exceptionally well-qualified third 6-month pupils. It will not necessarily do so. If it does, consideration of such applications will normally take place in June/July. The decision to offer a third six does not impact upon the tenancy decision in relation to our 12-month pupils. In the event that applications are to be considered, candidates for third 6 month pupillages should apply by letter and CV directly to the Recruitment Committee (bearing in mind the contents of our application form for pupillage), and should seek to demonstrate that they meet or exceed our objective standard of excellence expected from pupils seeking tenancy at that stage of the year, i.e. the standard to be expected after 9 months of pupillage.

This section of the Pupillage Policy is only applicable to 12-month pupillages. Second and third 6-month pupillages are designed according to the individual’s circumstances applicable at the time and will be individually agreed with each pupil. 

We want our pupils to succeed and feel supported at all times. Pupillage is not intended to ‘trip people up’ or to be a ‘survival test’. The aim of pupillage at Deans Court is both to allow fair, effective, and transparent assessment of pupils with a view to whether they should be offered a tenancy and to train pupils both generally and in particular with a view to assisting pupils in, at the very least, obtaining and evidencing that that they have met the Threshold Standard and Competences required by the Bar Standards Board’s Professional Statement for Barristers. 

Prior to commencing Pupillage:

Pupils will be provided with the Policies set out in the Pupillage Agreement and required to reach and consider them before commencing pupillage; - Pupils will be asked (in confidence) to inform their first supervisor, the Head of the Recruitment Committee, and the Senior Clerk of any personal circumstances they believe may require reasonable adjustments to be made by Chambers and/or to be taken into account so as to ensure effective and fair account in their training and assessment (e.g. a disability, childcare or caring responsibilities). The intention of this is to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to the Training Programme and assessments to ensure they are fair, effective and consistent with the principles governing training of pupils, including in particular flexibility and accessibility. The effectiveness of any measures agreed at the outset of pupillage should be reviewed regularly. - Pupils will be invited to meet informally both with very junior tenants and (separately) with their pupil supervisor. This provides an informal way of introducing pupils to life in chambers as well as a platform for answering any queries pupils have in advance of pupillage beginning.

On the commencement of pupillage, pupils will be also given a detailed induction which will include:

- Introductions by their pupil supervisor or a member of staff to as many of the members of chambers, clerks, administrative staff and receptionists as practicable. 

- An IT and security induction provided by Chambers’ IT Manager. The IT Manager will also ensure that pupils are provided with an effective set-up through Chambers IT department. This will include viewing an IT induction for, explaining the importance of security of data, what to do if there is a breach, GDPR regulations, our own media policy etc.

- An initial meeting with their first supervisor to discuss what the first few weeks of their pupillage will involve.

Chambers has regular social events that members of Chambers and staff are invited to in order to relax and develop a strong and friendly working environment.

Pupillage Supervisors 

Supervisors are all appropriately trained in accordance with the regulatory requirements from time to time. 

Formal Reviews

The appraisal process should be a valuable opportunity to give structured and objective feedback to pupils which should lead to improved performance. It is also an opportunity for us to get feedback from pupils about how they see their role, the work they have done and the way in which they are being supervised. These reviews usually occur several times during pupillage, including but not limited to;

  • At the start of 1st Six – setting out expectations and what to expect from pupillage
  • Halfway through 1st Six
  • Halfway through 2nd Six

At these reviews, progress in relation to attaining the Threshold Standard and Competence must be considered. (Link to Standards Document -  BSB) 

Pupils and pupil supervisors should also discuss progress in this regard on an approximately monthly basis, using the standard forms prepared by Chambers, the Professional Statement, the Training Record template and the (no longer compulsory) pupillage checklist. The checklist will be adapted to reflect work in chambers. 

The Training Review Meeting and the Final Review Meeting

The aim of the Training Review Meeting is to plan in a structured way how the remainder of pupillage can be used generally but in particular to address any areas where further training is required for the pupil to attain the Threshold Standard and Competences. Chambers will, insofar as necessary and appropriate, show flexibility towards usual supervision arrangements to ensure that the pupils’ training needs and interests are met. The Final Review Meeting is intended as a final check in that regard before the completion of pupillage. 

Unassessed Training provided by Chambers

As set out above, one of the aims of pupillage at Deans Court is to train pupils generally and particularly with a view to assisting them in obtaining and evidencing that that they have at the very least, met the Threshold Standard and Competences required by the Bar Standards Board’s However, it will be seen that some of the training is referred to as unassessed: this means they are not taken into account as part of the evidence on which Chambers will decide whether or not an offer of tenancy should be made.

Around the end of the non-practising period of pupillage, pupils will accompany the most junior members of Chambers to court in order to experience the type of work that they can expect to carry out in their second 6 months. 

Pupils are expected to attend the training that is provided by the Inns (i.e., the Practice Management Course and advocacy training) and any other compulsory training. 

Working for other Members of Chambers

As set out in the Training Programme and above, it is important that training of pupils allows sufficient flexibility to ensure that valuable training opportunities are taken. However, all work done for the pupil supervisor is done as part of the pupil’s essential training and assessment in pupillage. Moreover, any work given to a pupil other than by their pupil supervisor at any stage in pupillage must be done only with the agreement of the pupil supervisor and should be channelled through them. The pupil supervisor will liaise with the clerks and with the Recruitment Committee to determine the arrangements upon which any such work should be given to a pupil (including whether the pupil should be paid). Pupils will not normally be asked to do work for any members of Chambers other than for their pupil supervisor and the panel work before the tenancy decision has been made. 

Client marketing and social events 

During the course of the pupillage year there will be various social events with clients for the purposes of marketing. Pupils are invited to and are welcome at many of these events, but pupils’ attendance or non-attendance is not something that is assessed or required. The ability to mingle with clients at these events is not assessed either. It is recognised by Chambers that although it is important for pupils to feel part of Chambers in a social context and to meet clients, these gatherings can be difficult for pupils at an early stage. Pupils are encouraged to see these events as an opportunity to socialise with each other and with members of Chambers. 

We strive to provide a friendly and sociable atmosphere in which to work. Pupils are also involved in Chambers’ internal social events. These events normally include Chambers drinks, a Christmas and a Summer party. 

Working hours, holidays and absence 

Pupils are expected to work hard during their pupillage. This is seen as essential preparation for full time practice as a barrister. Pupillage must be undertaken full time. The minimum number of hours each week should be 35 hours, and the maximum is 48 hours. It will soon be appreciated that often barristers work far longer hours than this. The pupil supervisor will specify the time that the pupil should arrive in Chambers and leave each day. Subject to special circumstances, which must be considered by the supervisor in accordance with the principles of flexibility and accessibility, this will generally be based on a 9 hour working day with an additional 1 hour break for lunch. But pupils are encouraged not to work for the sake of it. Unless there is a particular justification or need (such as a pupil assisting their pupil supervisor and/or leader during a trial), pupils should feel able to down tools at the agreed time and not generally to work late into the evening or at weekends. Naturally, however, the ultimate responsibility for effective and productive working practices rests on each pupil.

Dress and Conduct

Pupils are expected, unless otherwise told, to wear attire appropriate for a business environment at all times when in Chambers and always to have available in chambers attire appropriate for attendance at court. 

Pupils are expected to conduct themselves professionally and courteously at all times during pupillage. In particular, attendance in Chambers or at court or on other business whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be taken extremely seriously. 

Disciplinary Procedure

Should a pupil fail to observe his or her obligations under the Pupillage Agreement, then it may be necessary for disciplinary action to be taken against the pupil. If so, that action will follow the Pupils Disciplinary Procedure.

Appeal Procedure

If the Head of Pupillage/the pupil’s supervisor for the time being supervisor refuses to sign a Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of Non-practising Pupillage or a Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of Pupillage there shall be a right of appeal against that decision. 

Work in the second 6 months 

Chambers places great importance on getting pupils into court in their practising 6 months (subject to approval of pupil supervisors and the Recruitment Committee). This is important for assessment and for attaining the Threshold Standard and Competences. 

For the most part, the work available to second 6 pupils is within our core areas of work and comprises work in the Civil, Family and Criminal Courts that is appropriate for junior counsel. It provides very valuable court experience. Allocation of work is monitored.

Pupils’ experiences at Court should (so far as confidentiality and privilege allows) be discussed with supervisors to ensure that pupils take a reflective approach to the experiences and obtain the maximum training benefit from them. 

Recruitment of tenants 

As set out above, Chambers does not have a set minimum or maximum number of places to offer each year, although we aim to recruit at least two new tenants each year. 

We recruit from our pupils on individual merit against objective standards. At the commencement of pupillage, each has an equal prospect of securing a tenancy at the end. We assess pupils through their pupillage in the following ways. 

First, by performance in pupillage working for their pupil supervisor. 

Secondly, by their performance when working for clients in their practising 6 months of pupillage. This is in part assessed by feedback, if available, from instructing solicitors. 

Our assessment is ultimately aimed at determining whether candidates are capable of performing the best work available in Chambers to a standard of excellence, and whether each candidate is likely to inspire confidence in clients, members of the judiciary and other members of Chambers. 

For 12-month pupils, offers of tenancy are made following a Chambers meeting between the pupil and a current member of Chambers.

To be successful, a candidate for tenancy must have achieved the required standard of excellence, judged at a level to be expected after completion of 9 months of pupillage (and with a view to the standard likely to be achieved at the conclusion of 12 months), and requires a two thirds majority vote in favour of their application. 

Pupils who are not made an offer of tenancy are given every assistance by Chambers in finding places elsewhere in the legal profession. The reason the Chambers meeting at which the tenancy decision is made is timetabled for June or early July is to provide pupils who are not offered a tenancy with as much time as possible to secure a place elsewhere. Chambers has a good track record of helping ex pupils to secure places at other Chambers and in firms of solicitors.  

Contacting Chambers 

The administration of pupillage and mini pupillages is dealt with by the Pupillage Administrator. If you have any queries, please contact us on Phone: 0161 214 6022 or Email: ajenkinson@deanscourt.co.uk  

If you have any other queries about mini pupillage, pupillage, the early years of tenancy here, or the work we do, please email the Pupillage Administrator at the above address indicating the nature of your enquiry and that you would like to speak to or hear from a member of the committee. Your email will then be passed on to the appropriate person who will contact you. 

Feedback and Improvements 

We are always looking for ways to improve our recruitment, selection and training of pupils and mini pupils. 

If you have any comments on our recruitment, selection, or training, please let us know by contacting the Pupillage Administrator or any member of the Recruitment Committee. 

Chambers has an Equality and Diversity Officer, currently Mr Alex Taylor. Any concerns about equality or diversity should be addressed to him, this can be done confidentially.

Regrettably, we are unable to offer feedback to applicants for pupillage or mini pupillage whose applications are unsuccessful. 

This policy is reviewed every year but is liable to be changed at any time. This version was approved in 2023.