5 Types of Work Experience for Aspiring Barristers

April 12, 2022

Mini-pupillages are likely the most common type of work experience for aspiring barristers. It involves shadowing barristers in Chambers for up to a week. Applications are usually made by way of an online application found on the Chambers’ website, or by way of CV and cover letter. The experience will provide insight into the kind of work you will be expected to carry out as a pupil barrister. Some Chambers offer assessed mini-pupillages, whereas most typically will not. Generally speaking, there is no minimum number of mini-pupillages that you should do. However, it is useful to obtain mini-pupillages in different areas of law to help you make a decision on which practice areas interest you most.

Court marshalling

Marshalling or court pupillage as it is sometimes called, involves shadowing a judge in a courtroom setting. Students will accompany a judge over a few days and gain insight into the daily workings of the court, and how judges consider and manage cases. Marshalling is also a useful way to consolidate any knowledge of the law. Whilst marshalling opportunities can be challenging to obtain, the Inns of Court can offer support in obtaining such experiences once you are a member. Your university may also offer such experiences, so do find out about any related opportunities. Otherwise, applications can be made directly to the intended judge or court for consideration. You can read here as Neive has shared her experience with marshalling.

Working with solicitors

Despite your future aspiration to pursue a career at the bar, it can be extremely useful to obtain work experience at a solicitor’s firm or by obtaining vacation schemes. It is important for business development at the bar to ensure strong relationships with instructing solicitors. Vacation schemes will give insight into the areas of the law as well. Therefore this may provide insight for students who are deciding whether to pursue the bar, or to practice as a solicitor instead. Work experience at a law firm can also lead to shadowing barristers on cases in court.

Pro bono experience

Pro bono work involves volunteering your time to help those who are unable to afford legal support but require it. Students are encouraged to seek such experiences. A good place to start may be with your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau which provides free, confidential advice to help individuals. The Free Representation Unit (FRU)  provides legal representation in social security and employment tribunals. Law students may be given the opportunity to take a case to tribunal to represent an individual themselves. Also you may wish to find opportunities as a case worker for Advocate which is the Bar’s national charity, making it possible for barristers to provide free legal help to those who cannot afford it.  Some universities also provide opportunities to get involved with pro bono schemes, such as Streetlaw at BPP University, which involves the delivery of legal workshops to schools, prisons, women’s groups and so on.

Advocacy, written and other experience

It can be extremely challenging to secure work experience. However, any experience is good experience! You may wish to take part in mooting. This will typically involve an appeal case where students prepare and present legal arguments in their client’s favour. Often, universities and Chambers host mooting competitions, and may provide a reward such as a mini-pupillage. Other advocacy experiences includes debating, or essay competitions. Remember, work experience in non-legal environments such as in retail or in other industries can be just as valuable. Non-legal experiences may demonstrate the key skills of a good barrister more effectively than the legal work experiences. Skills such as your ability to communicate and handle pressured situations well.

At Align, we match students to relevant work experience, saving them time and effort, choose from one of our options here – Our Plans (alignthebar.co).

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