Tendai Chiguvare:

A few months ago, I had the privilege of participating in the 10,000 Black Interns Scheme sponsored by the Bar Council. The scheme took place for a duration of six weeks at five different sets of chambers. Unlike a usual mini-pupillage, I had the opportunity to spend between a week or two at each set. 

Prior to the internship, I was excited about the opportunity to spend my summer gaining invaluable experience from several barristers across a cross-section of chambers. Most importantly, because it was through a scheme that recognised and took action to address the racial disparity within the legal industry. Although I have always recognised that there is a significant lack of diversity, this has not deterred me from pursuing a career at the Bar. However, this paired with my limited mini-pupillage experience felt slightly intimidating. Naturally, the feeling of imposter syndrome settled in quickly before the internship had begun. 

A brilliant aspect of the internship was the exposure I got into a vast range of practice areas. In my first week I had the opportunity to observe committal proceedings for an insurance fraud case and a clinical negligence trial at the Rolls Buildings and Royal Courts of Justice, respectively. In my second week, I attended hearings centred on possession and disrepair claims at Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court. In my third week, I attended a joint settlement meeting and a case management conference in relation to personal injury matters. In my fourth week, I met Anna Walsh from Coram Chambers and observed both public and private child law proceedings at the East London Family Court. Lastly, in my fifth and sixth week, I spent my time at a criminal set attending sentencing hearings and extradition proceedings.

Throughout the internship, I was pleasantly surprised about how diverse different practice areas are at the Bar. In particular, I enjoyed seeing how each style of advocacy differed depending on the practice area, application/hearing and/or the individual style of each barrister. 

It was also interesting to see aspects of the Bar which can only be seen through a mini-pupillage or in practice. For example, seeing settlements take place moments before a hearing or observing the amount of time barristers may sit waiting at a county court for much longer than they may have anticipated.

In my time spent with Anna, I spoke to her about my experience on the internship scheme. She was extremely encouraging and gave me an insight into her life at the Family Bar. Her background and experience prior to her career as a barrister demonstrated to me that there is no typical background of a barrister. She indicated to me that any background, whether racial or educational, can positively contribute to a career at the Bar. Similarly, I met many barristers who came from different disciplines all of whom equally provided their view on the benefits of an increase in diversity.

I thoroughly enjoyed my week with Anna and will continue to take her advice forward in pursuit of a career at the Bar. Every barrister I met was extremely welcoming and helpful. These encounters alleviated any prior feelings I had before the internship.

I am immensely grateful to Anna and Coram Chambers for providing me with such an insightful week. I am also deeply grateful to the Bar Council, 10,000 Black Interns and participating chambers for supporting this initiative with an aim to encourage greater inclusivity and diversity at the Bar. Without these opportunities, many prospective applicants of the Bar would continue to lack the access and support needed.

Overall, the scheme is a fantastic opportunity for any student or aspiring Black barrister to participate in. I strongly encourage anyone interested to apply. 

My advice to all applicants would be to create genuine and meaningful connections with barristers you meet. 

Anna Walsh:

Coram Chambers has been involved in the '10,000 Black Interns and the Bar' initiative for some years now, so I was delighted when asked if I would mentor Tendai Chiguare for a week as part of it.

I have always been committed to offering what time I can to law students and, with that, a slightly different perspective on a path to the Bar as mine was somewhat unconventional: I was a nurse for six years before I qualified as a solicitor. After 10 years, I transferred and was called to the Bar in 2013. I was the first person in my family to go to university, and in my early years at the Bar, the lack of diversity struck me, something I had not experienced in the NHS. 

Which is why I share 10,000 Interns' vision for change, both within and outside of law. If people see a welcoming and accessible culture and later experience this, they are more likely to enjoy their career and succeed. This will not only increase diversity and inclusion, but it will ultimately lead to public benefit, with law better reflecting the diversity of our society when society needs it most.

When I met Tendai, she was motivated, open, and eager to learn. She was excited about the opportunity to spend a week with me and to see what life was like at the Bar as a family practitioner. My practice is court-based, so Tendai came with me to various courts in and around London, where she witnessed first-hand public and private children's law proceedings. I think she was surprised by some of the issues in cases I deal with and the length of time matters take to conclude. I have probably become somewhat complacent about such matters, and her fresh perspective reminded me of some of the challenges faced by those in the family justice system.

Tendai was enthusiastic and eager to learn as much as she could from our week together; she was grateful for my time and the opportunity to gain insight into a world she wanted to be a part of.

The scheme appears to be very well organised. Tendai had the opportunity to spend time at several sets over six weeks, specialising in different areas of law, about which she spoke very positively. She also told me that she had met other interns with whom she continues to communicate and who are bonded by their experience and backgrounds.

Tendai and I have stayed in touch. She has secured a legal job, which she attributes to completing the scheme. She has grown in confidence and has started considering pupillage applications, which I will assist her with in any way I can. It is easy to take for granted access to other professionals who can guide and advise you if your family or friends are already working in that profession. One can forget how intimidating and scary it can be if you do not know anyone or have the contacts to assist you.

My time with Tendai was delightful. I met a strong and capable woman who I know is bound for greatness. She reminded me why we all need to do better and increase diversity at the Bar and access to it for capable people, whatever their background.

Interested in hosting interns? Sign up for 2024

Could your chambers or organisation provide excellent legal work experience to at least one candidate for at least one week? Applications for the 2024 scheme are now open. To sign up and find out more, please visit the Bar Council website

See also ‘10,000 Black Interns and the Bar’, Dawid Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, Counsel, February 2022

‘The Black Talent Charter and drive for race equity at the Bar’, Harry Matovu KC, Laura Durrant and Olivia Roberts, Counsel, March 2023