(Original post by Forum User)
I think this is a sensible course and it is one that I would advise everyone to adopt whether it is their first run through or not (and no matter what area of practice they want to go into).
Apply everywhere that you would be happy to do a pupillage, not just to your 'dream sets'. There are only a tiny number of candidates a year who are so good that they are virtually guaranteed to get interviewed everywhere and to have their pick of which offer to take. I think in the year I applied (I am now a pupil) I made 12 non-gateway applications and would have made a couple more if I had not received an early offer.
I agree. There are very small number of candidates who are so exceptional that they can reasonably afford to tailor their applications to specific sets. For everyone else (which is nearly everyone) it is eminently sensible to play the odds, and in this context means putting in applications to every set that you would be happy to accept pupillage at.
On that point, there is another thing to mention. At the point of applying for pupillage most people have an idea of what sort of area of law or area of the country they want to practice in. Which is fine, but it is worth bearing in mind that there are different routes into what you want, and what you want may change. You may move sets, either because you don't get tenancy or because you want to move. Your practice may develop and go in directions that you couldn't predict. Here are some examples, all of which are good friends of mine, and all of which are about ten years call or thereabouts;
- One got pupillage at a small regional set, was not offered tenancy, but was then taken on a by a much bigger (and, frankly, better) set. He is now in the Legal 500 for his primary area of practice.
- One was looking for a civil pupillage, but was offered a family pupillage by a set after she said she wanted to do civil. She accepted, and now has a successful practice in family law. She'd never previously considered doing family at all before she was offered that pupillage.
- One was absolutely set on doing personal injury, and still does. But along the way he happened to pick up a few inquests, developed his practice in that area, and is now considered an expert in inquests. I expect most people reading this didn't know you could have inquests as a specialism. He certainly didn't, but he does now.
- One started doing a mix of crime and civil at a small regional set, and now does employment and commercial law at a much larger set after moving of his own accord a couple of years into tenancy. This is a more extreme example, but shows how things really can change.
Ultimately things are not set in stone anywhere near as much as a lot of applicants think in this profession. Which is one very good reason why you absolutely should apply everywhere that you'd be happy accepting pupillage.