Pupillage - if at first you don't succeed, try and try again?

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thinker18
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Hi all,

My experience this year was - a few first round interviews (five to be precise) and no second rounds. It is quite a disheartening experience, but I have heard a lot of good barristers have been through this too, even more than once. Just wondered if people had any similar experiences, whether they are now pupils, practising or waiting for next spring to come back round so they can make a better go of it this time.

Please share your experiences, vent how it makes you feel, offer any tips, ask any questions. If you got pupillage the next year after a rubbish first try - how did you turn it around? Was it luck, or hard grind? What did you do in your gap year? Did you freak out like I currently am?!:confused:
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thinker18
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Come on guys - I see people viewing the page. But no one has been brave enough to message! This could be really helpful, since I have tried to find blogs everywhere online about this situation and have not found that many! I can start by way of introduction - I was shocked this year by:

(a) How much legal preparation I hadn't done - one interview seemed to have expected me to have revised my entire legal syllabus. But then again, perhaps I was too dim to realise they were just testing my reasoning skills and personality.

(b) How much I ramble in interviews and repeat myself.

(c) How much I don't know about which blogs to read and things.

(d) How much I don't know how to be different in interviews.

No one needs to get into too many details, I know this is a competition. But sharing experiences and talking to others is always good, even if it's anonymous!
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Student-Andrew
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I've heard it take about 6 years for someone to be able to get pupillage

it's all I got aha sorry
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mloco
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Hey thinker18 - I've seen you about on the pupillage thread so thought I'd drop you a reply here. Good idea!

My situation - I did an undergrad in Psychology, did the GDL 2010-2011 and BPTC 2011-2012. I had four first rounds this season - one of which was the first and only round that the Chambers held. I've also learnt a lot from the experience - like you, I have the tendency to ramble on a bit and repeat myself (my first round at Thomas More on Saturday was a classic example) and I've been surprised at how flustered I can get! I'm hoping I remain calm and composed on the outside (!) but inside I get a bit panicky and then the usual thought processes go out the window. Which is ridiculous because I'm in court every day with my job persuading horrid, stern judges to give me the order my client wants - yet apparently I can't convince an interview panel I'm good enough to invite back for another round! While I'm going to continue to prepare in the manner I have been for these interviews, I'm going to take a far more relaxed approach to the interviews themselves in the future so that doesn't happen. Nothing worse than getting into an interview and then realising quite how much is riding on your performance in the next 15 - 20 mins.

One thing that's keeping me going is that at the Pupillage Fair a couple of years ago I went to a talk. There was a barrister there who went to 35 interviews and then eventually got pupillage. Now, I know he is likely to be the exception rather than the rule but it does give me some hope! Also my careers adviser reminded me that as the number of pupillages are dropping and the number of people finishing the BPTC is increasing, good applicants are having to wait longer and go through more seasons of applications to get pupillage - they've got tonnes more experience than we do and I definitely think that's something to bear in mind.

My friend from work constantly tells me that the Bar rewards persistence - let's hope she's right!
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thinker18
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(Original post by mloco)
Hey thinker18 - I've seen you about on the pupillage thread so thought I'd drop you a reply here. Good idea!

My situation - I did an undergrad in Psychology, did the GDL 2010-2011 and BPTC 2011-2012. I had four first rounds this season - one of which was the first and only round that the Chambers held. I've also learnt a lot from the experience - like you, I have the tendency to ramble on a bit and repeat myself (my first round at Thomas More on Saturday was a classic example) and I've been surprised at how flustered I can get! I'm hoping I remain calm and composed on the outside (!) but inside I get a bit panicky and then the usual thought processes go out the window. Which is ridiculous because I'm in court every day with my job persuading horrid, stern judges to give me the order my client wants - yet apparently I can't convince an interview panel I'm good enough to invite back for another round! While I'm going to continue to prepare in the manner I have been for these interviews, I'm going to take a far more relaxed approach to the interviews themselves in the future so that doesn't happen. Nothing worse than getting into an interview and then realising quite how much is riding on your performance in the next 15 - 20 mins.

One thing that's keeping me going is that at the Pupillage Fair a couple of years ago I went to a talk. There was a barrister there who went to 35 interviews and then eventually got pupillage. Now, I know he is likely to be the exception rather than the rule but it does give me some hope! Also my careers adviser reminded me that as the number of pupillages are dropping and the number of people finishing the BPTC is increasing, good applicants are having to wait longer and go through more seasons of applications to get pupillage - they've got tonnes more experience than we do and I definitely think that's something to bear in mind.

My friend from work constantly tells me that the Bar rewards persistence - let's hope she's right!
Mloco, I can't tell you how much your experience reminds me of myself. I have experience working in the court too, representing people in possession proceedings and helping them to stay in their homes. Yet when I get to the interview, I find it hard to state a structured answer as to why it has helped me like it has. I plan these answers outside, but in the interview, it just goes a bit wrong.

It's good to hear what your careers adviser said - I don't know if that barrister is the exception, I hope he isn't. But what horrified me most was that I got NO second rounds. Now I know people are worse off than me, and I am grateful for those rounds. But still, it would be nice to know that they liked me as a person.

Congrats on a Thomas More interview - I didn't get an interview there this year, but they seem like a friendly set.

I got an unusual feedback from a lovely mentor of mine, he told me that my hobbies weren't adventurous enough. I do creative things and dance classes, but I was told that chambers are looking for people that are incredibly competitive outside of the Bar and win in all other things. My mission this year is to find a new, exciting hobby - apparently this will help. It might help me as a person too, so that in interviews I can become more confident. A lot of people from my university who got pupillage, seemed to be the ones who went out and saw the world. Whether by international mooting competitions or unusual degrees abroad. But as an individual, I spent a lot of time studying and working incredibly hard to secure relevant experience and to get into bar school. Pure hard grind. Was this a mistake? I don't know. I managed to get a good degree in the end, so I guess I can't feel bad.

I suppose the way to look at things is that I have a new chance to improve myself, go out and do cool things
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thinker18
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(Original post by Student-Andrew)
I've heard it take about 6 years for someone to be able to get pupillage

it's all I got aha sorry

Haha thanks Andrew, that's terrifying. I thought you couldn't even apply for pupillage after 5, I'm sure the BPTC qualification expires!
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mloco
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(Original post by thinker18)
Mloco, I can't tell you how much your experience reminds me of myself. I have experience working in the court too, representing people in possession proceedings and helping them to stay in their homes. Yet when I get to the interview, I find it hard to state a structured answer as to why it has helped me like it has. I plan these answers outside, but in the interview, it just goes a bit wrong.

It's good to hear what your careers adviser said - I don't know if that barrister is the exception, I hope he isn't. But what horrified me most was that I got NO second rounds. Now I know people are worse off than me, and I am grateful for those rounds. But still, it would be nice to know that they liked me as a person.

Congrats on a Thomas More interview - I didn't get an interview there this year, but they seem like a friendly set.

I got an unusual feedback from a lovely mentor of mine, he told me that my hobbies weren't adventurous enough. I do creative things and dance classes, but I was told that chambers are looking for people that are incredibly competitive outside of the Bar and win in all other things. My mission this year is to find a new, exciting hobby - apparently this will help. It might help me as a person too, so that in interviews I can become more confident. A lot of people from my university who got pupillage, seemed to be the ones who went out and saw the world. Whether by international mooting competitions or unusual degrees abroad. But as an individual, I spent a lot of time studying and working incredibly hard to secure relevant experience and to get into bar school. Pure hard grind. Was this a mistake? I don't know. I managed to get a good degree in the end, so I guess I can't feel bad.

I suppose the way to look at things is that I have a new chance to improve myself, go out and do cool things
Ah yes - I'd be found on the opposite side of the court room!

Thank you. I applied to them in my first year of applying (not last year, but the year before) and didn't get anywhere with them so it was nice to at least get through the door this time! They were my only interview through the gateway though.

I did the same. Worked too hard, didn't party enough! I think your mentor is right - that's really important too BUT I always worry about missing deadlines/not being around for interviews. I suppose the counter to that though is that without doing something crazy I might not secure any more interviews to miss.. Such a pickle!
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Luckypupil
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(Original post by thinker18)
Hi all,

My experience this year was - a few first round interviews (five to be precise) and no second rounds. It is quite a disheartening experience, but I have heard a lot of good barristers have been through this too, even more than once. Just wondered if people had any similar experiences, whether they are now pupils, practising or waiting for next spring to come back round so they can make a better go of it this time.

Please share your experiences, vent how it makes you feel, offer any tips, ask any questions. If you got pupillage the next year after a rubbish first try - how did you turn it around? Was it luck, or hard grind? What did you do in your gap year? Did you freak out like I currently am?!:confused:
Nice idea. Bad luck.

In my first year of applying, I also secured 5 first round interviews (1COR/Thomas More/1 Pump Court/Cloisters/can’t remember/ followed by zero second round interviews. I was certainly a little knocked by the experience – thought my face didn’t fit/slight accent/perhaps too cocky/not bright enough etc. I even thought about interview coaching because I didn’t know where to turn – I had always thought of myself as someone who interviewed quite well. My grades were solid but nothing spectacular. I had started a business but no one took too much interest during the interviews….

I did an interesting overseas work placement after the initial rejections for 6 months and picked up a legally related job on return. I was accepted for pupillage after my first interview during second year of applying. I think the extra experience certainly helped. I had more to talk about and had some interesting ideas about business development which they seemed to appreciate. Having said that, a lot of luck was involved as on reflection I think my face fitted this particular chambers.

However, I conducted my interview on the basis that I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t think I was ever going to get pupillage and so thought that if I was going to get rejected, I would do it on my terms – I was genuinely not nervous and this was empowering. I just interviewed as me, rather than projecting an image of myself that I thought the panel wanted to see.

I honestly think that it is 90% luck – provided you don’t make many mistakes, show a bit of imagination…………it is down to whether they like you as a person.
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mloco
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(Original post by Luckypupil)
Nice idea. Bad luck.

In my first year of applying, I also secured 5 first round interviews (1COR/Thomas More/1 Pump Court/Cloisters/can’t remember/ followed by zero second round interviews. I was certainly a little knocked by the experience – thought my face didn’t fit/slight accent/perhaps too cocky/not bright enough etc. I even thought about interview coaching because I didn’t know where to turn – I had always thought of myself as someone who interviewed quite well. My grades were solid but nothing spectacular. I had started a business but no one took too much interest during the interviews….

I did an interesting overseas work placement after the initial rejections for 6 months and picked up a legally related job on return. I was accepted for pupillage after my first interview during second year of applying. I think the extra experience certainly helped. I had more to talk about and had some interesting ideas about business development which they seemed to appreciate. Having said that, a lot of luck was involved as on reflection I think my face fitted this particular chambers.

However, I conducted my interview on the basis that I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t think I was ever going to get pupillage and so thought that if I was going to get rejected, I would do it on my terms – I was genuinely not nervous and this was empowering. I just interviewed as me, rather than projecting an image of myself that I thought the panel wanted to see.

I honestly think that it is 90% luck – provided you don’t make many mistakes, show a bit of imagination…………it is down to whether they like you as a person.
Seriously - why do I always end up clicking the wrong button! I wanted to +ve you - so sorry - especially when your post was so full of insight and good advice!
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thinker18
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(Original post by Luckypupil)
Nice idea. Bad luck.

In my first year of applying, I also secured 5 first round interviews (1COR/Thomas More/1 Pump Court/Cloisters/can’t remember/ followed by zero second round interviews. I was certainly a little knocked by the experience – thought my face didn’t fit/slight accent/perhaps too cocky/not bright enough etc. I even thought about interview coaching because I didn’t know where to turn – I had always thought of myself as someone who interviewed quite well. My grades were solid but nothing spectacular. I had started a business but no one took too much interest during the interviews….

I did an interesting overseas work placement after the initial rejections for 6 months and picked up a legally related job on return. I was accepted for pupillage after my first interview during second year of applying. I think the extra experience certainly helped. I had more to talk about and had some interesting ideas about business development which they seemed to appreciate. Having said that, a lot of luck was involved as on reflection I think my face fitted this particular chambers.

However, I conducted my interview on the basis that I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t think I was ever going to get pupillage and so thought that if I was going to get rejected, I would do it on my terms – I was genuinely not nervous and this was empowering. I just interviewed as me, rather than projecting an image of myself that I thought the panel wanted to see.

I honestly think that it is 90% luck – provided you don’t make many mistakes, show a bit of imagination…………it is down to whether they like you as a person.
Wow Luckypupil, that is quite inspiring and I'm really grateful that you shared it! It's a shame that it's a lot of luck, i think that next year, I am going to apply to even more places. What kind of experience did you do overseas, like what did it relate to, before you then undertook some legal experience. Was it volunteering? I would really like to do an overseas internship, helping out in human rights activities. At the moment I am applying to be an adjudicator at the FOS, whilst keeping my eye out for other opportunities...
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thinker18
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(Original post by mloco)
Ah yes - I'd be found on the opposite side of the court room!

Thank you. I applied to them in my first year of applying (not last year, but the year before) and didn't get anywhere with them so it was nice to at least get through the door this time! They were my only interview through the gateway though.

I did the same. Worked too hard, didn't party enough! I think your mentor is right - that's really important too BUT I always worry about missing deadlines/not being around for interviews. I suppose the counter to that though is that without doing something crazy I might not secure any more interviews to miss.. Such a pickle!
Sounds like you worked at LPC! It's always good to get your foot in the door, but when your'e rejected, you do wonder if it is worth applying the next year.

I'm the same, even now, I didn't book a holiday till very late in august, on the assumption that I would be busying away with pupillage interviews.

Perhaps, the best way to approach it, is to start a hobby now. Then atleast come next year, you'll have done enough of it to take some time off. But then how drastic can a hobby be that we can't even go to a pupillage interview?
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travellingbird
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Great thread! The one thing I am realllyyy concerned about is the fact that there aren't a huge amount of pure family sets. And once you've interviewed they might not ask you back the following year. I've interviewed at most of the major London family sets this year, and yet I have had no success with second rounds (apart from ones that go straight to final round). Any advice? I've heard for instance that 1GC will not re-interview and that 29BR will...
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thinker18
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(Original post by Luckypupil)
Nice idea. Bad luck.

In my first year of applying, I also secured 5 first round interviews (1COR/Thomas More/1 Pump Court/Cloisters/can’t remember/ followed by zero second round interviews. I was certainly a little knocked by the experience – thought my face didn’t fit/slight accent/perhaps too cocky/not bright enough etc. I even thought about interview coaching because I didn’t know where to turn – I had always thought of myself as someone who interviewed quite well. My grades were solid but nothing spectacular. I had started a business but no one took too much interest during the interviews….

I did an interesting overseas work placement after the initial rejections for 6 months and picked up a legally related job on return. I was accepted for pupillage after my first interview during second year of applying. I think the extra experience certainly helped. I had more to talk about and had some interesting ideas about business development which they seemed to appreciate. Having said that, a lot of luck was involved as on reflection I think my face fitted this particular chambers.

However, I conducted my interview on the basis that I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t think I was ever going to get pupillage and so thought that if I was going to get rejected, I would do it on my terms – I was genuinely not nervous and this was empowering. I just interviewed as me, rather than projecting an image of myself that I thought the panel wanted to see.

I honestly think that it is 90% luck – provided you don’t make many mistakes, show a bit of imagination…………it is down to whether they like you as a person.
I have another question Luckypupil - you say that you approached the interviews on the basis that you didn't care anymore. That sounds like a really good approach, it can even work in exams. But in a pupillage interview - I'm assuming that you still managed to show your enthusiasm and formulate structured answers. I find that I struggle to give good, structured answers. Any tips on this? I know the answers probably obvious, but what is your view?
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thinker18
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(Original post by travellingbird)
Great thread! The one thing I am realllyyy concerned about is the fact that there aren't a huge amount of pure family sets. And once you've interviewed they might not ask you back the following year. I've interviewed at most of the major London family sets this year, and yet I have had no success with second rounds (apart from ones that go straight to final round). Any advice? I've heard for instance that 1GC will not re-interview and that 29BR will...
It's nice to know I am not the only one that has struggled to get second rounds, despite interviews at some good sets.

I think your concern is a fair one - because we have all done this i think, haha. Maybe you should either - apply outside of london, or apply to sets that aren't major family sets. Atleast if a set does some family, you can specialise in it later. There are lots of sets that have more than one big area, such as family, crime and civil, especiallyyy outside of london.

I think it's a shame that chambers say they don't re-interview, they must know that a lot of excellent candidates get it the second or third time around.
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(Original post by thinker18)
It's nice to know I am not the only one that has struggled to get second rounds, despite interviews at some good sets.

I think your concern is a fair one - because we have all done this i think, haha. Maybe you should either - apply outside of london, or apply to sets that aren't major family sets. Atleast if a set does some family, you can specialise in it later. There are lots of sets that have more than one big area, such as family, crime and civil, especiallyyy outside of london.

I think it's a shame that chambers say they don't re-interview, they must know that a lot of excellent candidates get it the second or third time around.
I agree that it's a shame! I can safely say that it was nerves that interfered with my interview success - I know that this will improve as the years pass! So it's indeed annoying that some (unknown) chambers won't see you again, even though it's clear that some people will definitely gain self-assurance and confidence by the next time(particularly if you are on the GDL or relatively young).
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travellingbird
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Out of interest, how many first rounds did everybody get this year?
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thinker18
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(Original post by travellingbird)
I agree that it's a shame! I can safely say that it was nerves that interfered with my interview success - I know that this will improve as the years pass! So it's indeed annoying that some (unknown) chambers won't see you again, even though it's clear that some people will definitely gain self-assurance and confidence by the next time(particularly if you are on the GDL or relatively young).
That's so true, but hey, there are lots of other good sets who don't take that approach. I think it was nerves for me too, perhaps lack of preparation. I was under the impression that I had prepared a lot, but actually, what I did was write down a lot of my answers without practising them out loud with anyone, even with my dad. Speaking out loud can help so much! I didn't revise my law enough - proved to be a big mistake, or read thoroughly the new big cases in the news. Next year, I will not be making that mistake. But i have been told, that confidence, if anything, is the main thing I have to work on.
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mloco
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(Original post by thinker18)
Sounds like you worked at LPC! It's always good to get your foot in the door, but when your'e rejected, you do wonder if it is worth applying the next year.

I'm the same, even now, I didn't book a holiday till very late in august, on the assumption that I would be busying away with pupillage interviews.

Perhaps, the best way to approach it, is to start a hobby now. Then atleast come next year, you'll have done enough of it to take some time off. But then how drastic can a hobby be that we can't even go to a pupillage interview?
Yep - that's me! What are you going to do now you've finished your BPTC?

I think that re-applying to the same sets is fine - so long as there's something new on your application. After my very first pupillage interview ever when I was part way through the BPTC, I contacted the Chambers for feedback after I was rejected - they said that I didn't have enough advocacy experience compared to their other applicants. Now I've worked on that I'm going to apply to them again and, fingers crossed, I will get a chance to show them how I took their advice onboard. That's the plan at least!

Ha, no - I mean re going abroad to get varied experience. I've been saying I'm going to go over to Aus for a good year now, and still haven't booked my flights for fear of missing opportunities. I unfortunately don't think that many Chambers would conduct a pupillage interview over Skype
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(Original post by mloco)
Yep - that's me! What are you going to do now you've finished your BPTC?

I think that re-applying to the same sets is fine - so long as there's something new on your application. After my very first pupillage interview ever when I was part way through the BPTC, I contacted the Chambers for feedback after I was rejected - they said that I didn't have enough advocacy experience compared to their other applicants. Now I've worked on that I'm going to apply to them again and, fingers crossed, I will get a chance to show them how I took their advice onboard. That's the plan at least!

Ha, no - I mean re going abroad to get varied experience. I've been saying I'm going to go over to Aus for a good year now, and still haven't booked my flights for fear of missing opportunities. I unfortunately don't think that many Chambers would conduct a pupillage interview over Skype
Ahhh, go on holiday!! pupillage period is almost over, I went ahead and booked a flight. I mean, are you going to never go on holiday because you are waiting for interviews? You need to keep living, because otherwise, what's the point? We are quite similar, but my tutor had a good word with me and demanded that I go on holiday. Now I'm excited to be going, and that makes a change.

You know I think I need to sort out my advocacy experience too - how did you find LPC? I haven't applied for it yet, I want to do something a bit unusual before I start LPC, but hope to do it next year. How long did it take you to get into LPC, after applying for the job?
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sarahjanedolly
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(Original post by travellingbird)
Great thread! The one thing I am realllyyy concerned about is the fact that there aren't a huge amount of pure family sets. And once you've interviewed they might not ask you back the following year. I've interviewed at most of the major London family sets this year, and yet I have had no success with second rounds (apart from ones that go straight to final round). Any advice? I've heard for instance that 1GC will not re-interview and that 29BR will...
I think it is wholly wrong that they will not interview again - surely they should look at everyone fresh again the following year - your application will have changed!

Congrats on getting so many interviews though
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