Pupillage stage

The final stage of training to become a barrister is pupillage. Pupillage usually lasts for 12 months, unless a reduction or extension is approved by the Bar Standards Board. Pupillage is usually undertaken in a set of barristers' chambers, although it can also be undertaken with certain other organisations. Being a pupil is similar to being an apprentice, as you will gain practical training under the supervision of an experienced barrister or barristers. At the end of the year you will be a fully qualified barrister.

Pupillage is divided into two parts: the "first six" which is a non-practising six months and the "second six" which is a practising six months. During the first six, pupils generally shadow their pupil supervisor, do legal research, draft legal documents, read their pupil supervisor's paperwork and observe him or her in conferences and in court. During the second six, pupils can take on some work of their own, under supervision. Sometimes if pupils are not offered tenancy at the end of the pupillage year, they may do a 'third six pupillage' (also known as squatting) at the same or a different chambers, in which they do their own work but are not yet tenants.

Various forms of external training, such as working for a solicitors' firm, marshalling with a judge or working with an EU lawyer can also count towards pupillage. Also, pupils are required to satisfactorily complete an Advocacy Training Course in their first six months and a Practice Management course in their second six. The Inns and circuits provide this training.
Obtaining pupillage is an extremely competitive process. Candidates who don't get pupillage on their first attempt can reapply, but you cannot start pupillage more than five years after completing the BPTC (unless you obtain an extension from the BSB). Candidates often spend the time before the next round of applications gaining additional legal experience.

The Bar Council runs the Pupillage Fair annually, to improve access to the profession, enable students to make informed decisions about their career choices, and facilitate networking between chambers and potential applicants for pupillage.

The Bar Council manages the Pupillage Gateway as a fair and transparent recruitment system for the Bar; the Gateway eases the administrative burden on chambers, relieves pressure on applicants and ensures compliance with data security and equality and diversity monitoring requirements.