TC Vs pupilage, how much more competitive is itWatch
I imagine pupilages are much more competitive than securing a TC at a top firm, but to what degree? Also, are the well-compensated chambers all located in London, as is the case for law firms? And lastly, would I be able to build a competitive application for a pupilage and training contract simultaneously. Due to the extremely competitive nature, I feel like this would be a safe bet to raise my chances of employment. Sorry for multiple questions, would appreciate any input on this
Competitiveness aside, a solicitor's and barrister's job is actually quite different. Do you enjoy debating and public speaking? Do you want to be self employed? Do you enjoy technical and extensive academic research? Answering 'yes' to these questions would indicate you want to be a barrister.
Solicitors, on the other hand, are more about the day to day functioning of law. If you like working in teams, thinking pragmatically about solutions and would prefer the security of a job and more extended interaction with clients, you might be better suited as a solicitor.
You can definitely build a CV for both at the same time. But the Bar requires you focus more on mooting, debating, public speaking, mini-pupillages and marshalling (shadowing a judge in court). These aren't as directly relevant to a CV for a training contract, but they help. It's also worth bearing in mind that TC recruiting happens much earlier (from 2nd year university) than pupillage applications (from final year of law degree or on GDL), so you don't need as much experience to have good prospects of securing a TC.
I hope that all helps!
I imagine pupilages are much more competitive than securing a TC at a top firm, but to what degree?
In terms of competitiveness, how long is a piece of string? Getting a London commercial TC is hard. One of the reasons for this is that there is very little consensus on what makes a "good application" to make it through the paper-sift. Many candidates have exceptionally similar CVs (e.g. "RG uni, on track for high 2i, some sport, some extracurriculars, bit of work experience" or "Oxbridge, on track for first, no sport, legal work experience, limited extracurriculars"); there are no clear "metrics" on which solicitors are scored because it is hard to pin down the precise skills you need to be a solicitor. Academic credentials (i.e. a 2i) are a necessary but not a sufficient condition and you do not get a huge amount of credit for a first over a 2i, or a high first over a low first. You are often required to do pseudo-scientific "personality tests" or "skills assessment" where it is genuinely hard to understand how you could even find a "right" answer. This means there is more randomness in the system; of people I know who applied widely to solicitors' firms, none got interviews everywhere and strike-rates were very variable.
The London Commercial Bar is, ironically, the opposite and there is quite a high degree of consensus as to what makes you a good applicant: excellent academics and experience of mooting/debating. When I was applying, people tended to have uniform strike-rates across comparable sets. For instance, from 12 applications, candidate A (top of year Cam law, BCL, lots of mooting and debating) was invited to interview everywhere he applied; candidate B (2i non-law, minimal public speaking) was only invited to only two. Different sets have different weightings, but I've never heard of a commercial set which didn't have those two as the two most important elements. The result of this is that, if you are a great candidate according to those metrics, you will be invited to a lot of interviews and, provided you have some decent preparation and people skills, you should work out how to convert a few. There were a few people this year and last holding >4 offers from top commercial sets on offers day because they had worked this system out. If you're a moderate candidate (e.g. low first, some mooting/debating), the pupillage process is challenging and competitive because you're constantly fighting to distinguish yourself from people with almost identical CVs to you, many of whom are on the GDL. If you are not a good or moderate candidate (i.e. a mid-2i and no mooting/debating), this process becomes Herculean, verging on the unrealistic, for top commercial sets.
As Crazy Jamie said above, if the top London commercial bar isn't your dream (and there is no good reason it necessarily should be anyone's - you're generally doing much less advocacy) then the above considerations for pupillage are relaxed (to varying degrees according to different practice areas). The primary takeaway, imho, should be that you can't ascertain competitiveness from numbers alone.