What is Pupillage?

April 7, 2022

Aspiring barristers are required to complete the Bar course, then the final stage of training as a barrister can begin. This is known as Pupillage.

How To Apply

Candidates can either apply to complete Pupillage within chambers under supervision of barristers, or it can be completed at an authorised organisation at the employed Bar, such as the Crown Prosecution Service or as part of the Legal Trainee Scheme (see article on Different Types Of Barristers for more information). Applications can usually be submitted a year or two in advance of when you intend to start Pupillage, and students will usually apply in the final year of their law degree, or during the GDL.

Where To Apply

Applying for Pupillage is an extremely competitive task. The Pupillage Gateway advertises all the available opportunities, and whilst some Chambers and organisations will accept application forms only through the Pupillage Gateway, others will accept applications submitted directly to them, usually by way of an email with an attached application form, or CV and cover letter. The gateway has the relevant information on submiting forms and application portal opens in January and closes in February. Offers are announced in May on the platform.

Pupillage Interviews

Applications will be submitted and candidates who are shortlisted for interview will be informed either via email or through the Pupillage Gateway. If you are successful after the initial interview stage, you may be invited once again for a second interview.

What you will do on Pupillage

Pupillage within Chambers and other authorised organisations at the employed Bar will work in the same way. Training for pupils, as trainee barristers are called, is split into a first six months and a second six. The first six months will consist of training which will consolidate your vocational studies on the Bar course, and will include preparing court documents under supervision. You will continue on to the second six, during which you can begin a period of practice, taking on work of our own. There is also the possibility of a third six if necessary if candidates do not secure tenancy afterwards or where more training is needed. A third six can be completed at a different organistaion. Pupils are supported by pupillage supervisors and mentors to ensure the best possible development and experience from their Pupillage. The Inns of Court also provide training including advocacy training for pupils.


The minimum Pupillage award is around £18,000+ for those based in London and £16,000+ for those based outside of London. Typically, the award will differ depending on the yearly living wages, and area of practice your pupillage is in. For example, some commercial Chambers can offer renumeration of £60,000. The Inns of Courts also offer pupillage scholarships.

After Pupillage

If you successfully complete your training period, you will receive a Full Practising Certificate from the Bar Standards Board. You are then able to secure ‘tenancy’ as a qualified barrister. However, if unsuccessful, applying for a third six may be an option to provide you with the opportunity to develop your experience further at another chambers or organisation.

If you are considering a career as a barrister and would like to gain insight into what pupillage might be like for you, mini-pupillages are designed to give you such insight. Knowing what to do is half of the work. In a recent survey, most aspiring barristers indicated that they struggled to choose the ideal work experience. This is in addition to not having enough time to search in the first place! Align matches law students to relevant work experiences, you can sign up here.


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