I write as someone who has been applying for pupillage for four years and who has on more than one occasion suffered having to get up at 4:00am and pay £80 for a rail fare to attend a 9:00am interview in London that lasted just 10 minutes. Very often, the only response that I received from chambers after those interviews was a ‘rejected’ notice on the Pupillage Portal.
Whilst I appreciate that given the number of applications chambers receive, it is not possible for them to reply to every applicant individually, is it too much to ask for a page of general feedback to be sent to all the applicants? Or perhaps feedback for those (often very few) candidates who reach the interview stage, to help them build upon their experience in preparation for future interviews? We applicants appreciate being told where we go wrong. Pupillage interviews occur once a year at most chambers and whilst barristers do indeed lead very busy lives, I do not think it would be too much trouble for pupillage committee members to provide brief feedback to a few interviewees, or even simply write them a letter wishing them well for the future, as many do not currently do.
The Bar should take its example from a very few chambers who are already actively assisting prospective pupils – I recall one experience with a Birmingham set that I applied to in 2009, where the top 15 applicants were interviewed and the next 35 applicants in the ranking (myself included) were offered a 10-minute telephone feedback session with a member of the pupillage committee. What a welcome relief to the endless faceless rejections this was.I say to members of pupillage committees across the country – remember, you were all once in my position.
The Bar owes a duty to its prospective pupils to provide as much help to them as possible in obtaining pupillage. In my opinion, the Bar simply isn’t doing this well enough at present. After all, we are the future of the Bar. Whether or not that ‘we’ will include me has still to be determined. I haven’t obtained pupillage yet, but I will damn well keep trying. I would just appreciate a little help along the way.