Pupillage and tenancy at Brick Court Chambers
"Brick Court Chambers is the standout commercial public law set, and regularly advises and acts for international commercial entities. Well known for its wealth of competition and EU law experience, Brick Court Chambers is a top-tier set with star quality from top to bottom. These lawyers have "unrivalled strength" and are involved in many of the most prominent cases in the market." Chambers & Partners, 2012.
Pupillage at Brick Court Chambers is more than just the final step in qualification as a barrister. It is an opportunity to work with some of the leading practitioners at the English Bar, and on some of the most important and interesting cases of the day.
We normally offer up to five 12 month pupillages (including deferred pupillages). The award for 2013/2014 is £60,000 (see further below). Only those whom we consider to have a realistic prospect of achieving tenancy are offered pupillage.
Brick Court Chambers is a member of Pupillage Gateway and all applications for a 12 month pupillage must be made via the Pupillage Gateway website.
We differ from other chambers in the importance we place on an assessed mini-pupillage.
At Brick Court Chambers we recognise that our continued success depends upon our recruiting people of the highest calibre. For that reason, there is no Brick Court "type". Provided that you have the ability and the determination to succeed as a barrister at the highest level, you will be welcome whatever your background.
We do not impose formal requirements on applicants, other than a good 2:1 degree, although all applicants are expected to demonstrate first class intellectual ability. The challenging nature of the work at Brick Court Chambers demands a high level of intellectual ability and a willingness to work hard. Not surprisingly, those who undertake pupillage with us usually have very strong academic backgrounds, although not necessarily in law.
The information on this website applies to those intending to practise at the English Bar. We will separately consider applications from those who do not intend to practise at the English Bar. Please contact our pupillage manager, Lyana Peniston, for further information.
We differ from other chambers in the importance we place on mini-pupillage. We do not normally consider candidates for pupillage unless they have undertaken an assessed mini-pupillage with us. We only offer assessed mini-pupillages. We do not have an upper limit on numbers, but we select for assessed mini-pupillage only those whom we consider strong pupillage candidates.
We regard mini-pupillage as important both for us and for you. From your perspective, you will be considering whether you would like to spend your year of pupillage with us, and hopefully, thereafter remain here as a tenant. We believe that we work in a happy and stimulating environment, and would like you to have the opportunity to see that for yourself.
From our perspective, we want to obtain as much information as we reasonably can about our pupillage candidates. We do not think it is in either our interests or those of our candidates that we make our decisions merely on the basis of a Pupillage Portal form, references and performance at a couple of interviews. We think that a more detailed assessment is fairer to candidates.
Mini-pupillage enables candidates to see a snapshot of the work of Chambers. Assessed mini-pupils are allocated a member of Chambers as a mini-pupil supervisor. Mini-pupils will be asked to look at work for their supervisor, perhaps research some points, attend conferences or go to court with their supervisor or another member of Chambers. We will ask you to review at least one set of papers for your supervisor, and to carry out a standard piece of assessed work during the week which will be reviewed by members of Chambers' Pupillage Committee (see further details below). There will be opportunities to meet and speak to other members of Chambers, and our current pupils, including over lunch. We offer a small sum towards expenses (currently £10 per day, with a further £50 available towards expenses on production of receipts).
An assessed mini-pupillage normally involves spending a week in Chambers, although it is possible to undertake a shorter period on request. Applications for an assessed mini-pupillage, by way of CV containing full details of your academic qualifications including where relevant any available breakdown of your degree and A Level results and covering letter, should be sent to our pupillage manager, Lyana Peniston.
As our mini-pupillages are assessed, candidates are likely to find them a more valuable experience if they have studied some law. For those studying a three year qualifying law degree, we accept therefore applications for assessed mini-pupillage at any time after completion of the second year. For those studying a shorter qualifying law degree, applications will be accepted on completion of the first year. For those studying other subjects, we suggest that applications should not be made until you have started a law conversion course.
All applications for mini-pupillage will initially be considered on paper by members of Chambers' Pupillage Committee (see further details below) by reference to Chambers selection criteria (see the Selection Criteria section of the Pupillage and Tenancy pages). Those applicants who are considered realistic applicants for pupillage are invited to a short interview, usually conducted by two junior members of Chambers. Successful candidates will then be offered a mini-pupillage, at a date convenient to them.
Chambers is a member of Pupillage Gateway and all applications for 12 month pupillages (including deferred pupillages) must be made online at www.pupillagegateway.com. (For further details please go to the section on How to Apply for Pupillage and Tenancy).
Following the opening of the Pupillage Gateway, candidates for final interview are selected by members of Chambers' Pupillage Committee (see further details below). The decision to shortlist a candidate is made by reference to Chambers' selection criteria (see the Selection Criteria section of the Pupillage and Tenancy pages), based on all the information that we have about that candidate (including his or her mini-pupillage performance, assessed work and external references). Final intervews are normally held on a Saturday in mid to late July.
Those who are invited to final interview will be provided with a legal problem in advance of attending the interview, and the first part of the interview will comprise a short advocacy exercise based on that problem. Given the range of backgrounds of those who apply to Chambers, we endeavour to select a problem which is self contained and does not require knowledge of any particular legal area. Final interviews are usually conducted by members of Chambers' Pupillage Committee. Decisions to offer pupillages are made by reference to Chambers' selection criteria based on all the information available to Chambers.
Offers to successful candidates will be made in accordance with the Pupillage Portal timetable, typically in early August.
Each 12 month pupil is assigned to three or four different pupil supervisors during the year. All pupils are also assigned a mentor (a junior tenant) at the outset of their pupillage from whom they can seek advice throughout the pupillage year. The tenancy decision is taken in early July.
The breadth of work within Chambers is often a reason for pupils coming to Brick Court Chambers. We think that a grounding in EU and Public Law is a benefit to any Commercial practitioner. Equally, the EU or Public Law practitioner needs to understand Commercial principles and litigation. A pupil can expect to see a range of work within the various Chambers' specialisations during his or her pupillage seats. But we also can, and do, vary the emphasis according to personal choice: some pupils come to Chambers with a clear view as to the area of practice in which they expect to specialise, others do not. We expect the choice of pupil supervisors to reflect your personal preferences in areas of work.
Pupils may have the opportunity to spend some time visiting the institutions and/or courts in Brussels, Luxembourg or Strasbourg. Chambers funds the travel expenses for each pupil to attend one hearing in the European Courts during their pupillage year if an appropriate opportunity arises. In addition, pupils may visit Chambers annex in Brussels during their first few months of pupillage.
Regular advocacy exercises in front of a panel of members of Chambers reflect the importance we place on training advocacy skills. These enable pupils to practise chairing a conference and to make and defend applications of the kind they might expect to encounter in their first few years of practice, such as applications for summary judgment or for security for costs. The first few exercises are unassessed and are conducted solely for training purposes. After that, the exercises are assessed, although the training element remains very important. Individual feedback is given after each advocacy exercise to help pupils improve their skills.
There are also usually opportunities for pupils to do small work on their own during their second six months pupillage, although this will vary from year to year.
Pupillage is inevitably demanding, but we do our best to make it as enjoyable and interesting an experience as possible.
It is made clear to all pupils that it is quality and not quantity of work that counts. Pupils are not in general expected to work late into the evenings or during weekends, although the nature of practice is such that there will be periods when longer hours are necessary.
Pupils are welcomed into the social life of Chambers. Shortly after pupillage offers are made, those who accept are invited to a reception and dinner to meet members of Chambers. During pupillage, pupils will often have lunch with their pupil supervisors and other members of Chambers, and are welcome at Chambers' social events. There is usually a dinner for pupils and junior tenants every term. Pupils and their partners are invited to the Chambers' Christmas party.
Above all, though, we believe that it is the high quality of work and training at Brick Court Chambers that contributes most to our pupils' satisfaction. As one pupil said to an interviewer from Chambers & Partners, "it was the easiest money I've ever earned because every day was just so interesting."
The tenancy decision
The Tenancy Committee monitors the work of pupils and, in July, reports to Chambers and makes recommendations as to those pupils who should be offered tenancies. Tenancies are always offered on merit, not on quotas. If you are good enough, you will be taken on. Just before Easter, the Tenancy Committee will review the work of each pupil, each of whom is then given a frank and confidential assessment of his or her performance to date. A similar review is conducted by the Tenancy Committee in July. Assessment is based on reports from pupil supervisors, from others who have seen work from pupils, and on the basis also of a number of pieces of assessed work carried out in the course of the year, as well as on performance during the assessed advocacy exercises. This process enables a consistent standard to be applied to all pupils when assessing them for tenancy. We spend considerable time ensuring that our system is fair, consistent, and transparent.
After the tenancy decision
For those who are taken on as tenants, the early days of practice are exciting times. Experience has shown that all of our new tenants have rapidly established thriving practices. (The financial rewards for those who are taken on are considered below.) Unlike some other sets, all of the tenants we have taken on in recent times have remained with us, rather than leaving the Bar or moving to another set due to a lack of work or disillusionment with life at the Bar.
As part of Chambers commitment to the ongoing training of our new members, Chambers funds the attendance of all new tenants in the first three years in practice on the South Eastern Circuit Bar Mess Foundation International Advocacy Course at Keble College, Oxford. Regular practice management sessions with clerks and more experienced members of Chambers are also held.
We work extremely hard to find good homes for any of our pupils who are not offered tenancies here; one of that pupil's pupillage supervisors is there to help with that process. The overwhelming majority find tenancies at other good chambers. In recent years these include 4 New Square, 3 Verulam Buildings, Quadrant Chambers, 4-5 Gray's Inn Square, Monckton Chambers, One Crown Office Row, 20 Essex Street and 11 King's Bench Walk.
Pupillage at Brick Court Chambers carries an award for 2013/2014 of £60,000. Up to £25,000 of this can be drawn down during the year preceding pupillage (subject to Chambers' approval), with the remainder being paid in monthly instalments from September to June. Chambers also pays for all compulsory courses during pupillage and for necessary travel expenses outside London.
Often those who apply to us do not appreciate the extent of the financial rewards even in the early days of tenancy. Experience indicates that a new tenant at Brick Court Chambers will soon find his or her earnings matching or exceeding those of contemporaries elsewhere at the Bar or at City solicitors' firms. In recent years, average income of our new tenants in their first year has exceeded £100,000 (in many cases by a considerable margin).
Chambers offers all new tenants an interest-free loan of £50,000, payable during the first six months of tenancy in monthly instalments. The loan is repayable from receipts, once the level of receipts has exceeded £80,000. Junior tenants are not required to pay room rent or Chambers' expenses in the first year of practice or until receipts total £80,000, whichever is the sooner. Chambers also offers generous financial arrangements for those members who wish to take maternity and paternity leave (for further details please go to the Equal Opportunities section of the Pupillage and Tenancy pages).
Chambers' Pupillage Committee
The members of Chambers' Pupillage Committee are currently: