This blog represents my views and opinions. They are not necessarily those of any other member of my Chambers, none of whom contribute to the blog, or assist me with it.


Now moved to http://pupillageandhowtogetit.wordpress.com/ for reasons of convenience and ease. Come and see.

Friday, 4 May 2007

The Interview

These are tough. You will be expected to know something about recent developments and proposals for the legal system. You may even be expected to have a view about it. If so, please give your honest opinion. Most barristers have high quality bull detectors (obviously as they all own country estates) and, as you are not a Judge, telling them what they want to hear is irrelevant and will not assist you. If you are applying for a specialist pupillage you will be expected to be up to date with recent developments. If you claim knowledge of any particular subject you will be expected to demonstrate it.

Take your time. Don't expect to get every answer right - there probably isn't one right answer.
If you've applied to the pupillage factories ask yourself what they want and aim to demonstrate it. If you've applied to sets where pupillages are with a view remember that the sub-plot is whether the panel think you can get along with the members of Chambers. DON'T diss the opposition - either other Chambers (gossip gets around) or your fellow interviewees. It sounds dreadful.

You will do better if you relax. If you can't relax you will do better if you acknowledge to the panel that you are finding it difficult to relax. You might have to be relaxed to indicate that you aren't relaxed - just think of it as a tricky submission to a misanthropic High Court Judge.

Panels will make allowances, but they will want to give pupillages to people who don't require allowances to be made. Don't fail to appreciate, and bone up on, what the panel expects you to know. Know the sort of work Chambers does, the number of tenants and the number of silks. Don't over-flatter your listeners. They will know if they really are the premier woodworking law set in the West of England. Say why the set is right for you. Only say why you are right for the set if specifically asked, or if you can promise that your Uncle George can provide work for every junior tenant until 2012 (preferably in his capacity as a solicitor).

Also, and it is bizarre that I have to say this, we can tell if we are really your number one choice or not. It must be all that cross-examination honing our already rapier-sharp legal skills. Speaking personally, anyone who gives me the impression that we'll do if that fantastic set they really, really want to go to doesn't come up with an offer can walk back to their BVC course - preferrably on their knees. So try and be enthusiastic, even if it's largely bullshit.


Groig-Roy said...

Thanks for the blog Simon.

Can you offer a few examples of typical topical interview questions beloved of Criminal pupillage committees?

Honest John said...

Hi Simon,

Your blog is invaluable, and I have been observing from the wings for some time. I now however would appreciate your thoughts.

I completed the BVC in 08, and since then have had 6 interviews. I missed out on my 1st choice chambers (provincial) on a vote of 2-1, and was placed on the reserve list for another chambers in London.

I do, I believe, tick all the 'barrister candidates must have' boxes: I have 2x scholarships, a masters, ran my own company, undertook several minis, taught Westlaw for Sweet & Maxwell for 2 years, and had a career as a rugby player before coming to law earlier that originally planned through injury (I am 28)

My first choice chambers have re-interviewed me (yesterday in fact and I eagerly await their response). what I would like to know is, what the chuff can I do to go one step further and obtain an offer?

The one thing I have lacked to date is real advocacy experience, so I put myself through FRU as an employment rep and took up a position as a county court advocate (solicitor's agent) to gain experience (although this is relatively recent).

I am, I believe, a friendly chap, I get on well with most, and I have a genuine, not rehearsed, interest in law and current affairs.

Friends tell me 'if you're good enough to get interviews you're good enough to get pupillage' but I am truly concerned that this isn't the case. My entire life has gone on hold while I send out applications, my poor girlfriend has to put up with my cloudy moods, and I find myself for the first time not knowing what to do!

Any thoughts would be gratefully received!