Pupillage & Tenancy
“A set firmly at the forefront of the Commercial Bar, it features a large number of the most accomplished and respected counsel in the market at both silk and junior level. It has a vast diet of commercial work and handles everything from banking and insurance cases to aviation and competition/EU law matters. Cases are handled both domestically and worldwide, and a number of the members here are recognised as having strong offshore practices.” Chambers & Partners Global 2016
“A set with a large offering of impressive barristers who assist clients with all aspects of competition law. Its members are regularly seen acting in the most complex of cases, and handle everything from mergers to damages litigation. They often represent large blue-chip corporates or the competition regulators in matters concerning either UK or EU competition law.” Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2016
“Brick Court Chambers is praised for the consistent excellence of its performance in administrative and public law cases. Its members are sought after for public law cases at the interface with commercial and European law issues. They frequently act on significant judicial review proceedings for clients in the energy, tobacco and pharmaceuticals industries. The set offers further specialism in human rights matters.” Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2016
We differ from other chambers in the importance we place on mini-pupillages. They are an integral part of our pupillage selection process and, consequently, we do not normally consider candidates for pupillage unless they have undertaken a mini-pupillage with us. 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 those applying to us that we make our decisions merely on the basis of a Pupillage Gateway form, references and performance at a couple of interviews. We think that a more detailed assessment is fairer to candidates. All mini-pupillages are therefore assessed.
In addition to being a part of our selection process, a mini-pupillage is also an important opportunity for you to experience life in Chambers first-hand and to make an informed assessment about what it is really like. You will be deciding 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.
An assessed mini-pupillage normally involves spending a week in Chambers, although it may be possible to undertake a shorter period on request. Mini-pupils see a snapshot of the work of Chambers. Assessed mini-pupils are allocated a member of Chambers as a mini-pupil supervisor. They 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, in addition, to carry out a standard piece of assessed work during the week which will be reviewed by members of Chambers' Pupillage Committee. 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).
The best time for you to apply for a mini-pupillage will depend upon your circumstances. In order to maximise your chances of being offered a mini-pupillage you should balance the need to apply early enough with the desirability of having studied as much law as possible before you come to apply. Guidance as to when and how to apply for a mini-pupillage can be found on the main Pupillage & Tenancy page.
All applications for mini-pupillage are initially considered (anonymously) on paper by members of Chambers' Pupillage Committee by reference to Chambers’ selection criteria (see the Selection Criteria section of the Pupillage & Tenancy pages). Those applicants who are considered realistic applicants for pupillage are invited to a short interview, usually conducted by two 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 12 month pupillages) must be made online at http://www.pupillagegateway.com. Given the importance we place on mini-pupillages, we encourage candidates to apply for (and if feasible undertake) an assessed mini-pupillage before making their pupillage application via the Pupillage Gateway. Guidance on when and how to apply for a mini-pupillage can be found on the main Pupillage and Tenancy page.
All of those who have undertaken an assessed mini-pupillage are considered for final interview. The decision as to whom to invite for final interview is taken by the Pupillage Committee by reference to Chambers’ selection criteria (see the Selection Criteria section of the Pupillage & Tenancy pages) and is based upon a candidate’s paper application, his or her performance at the mini-pupillage interview, the mini-pupillage itself, the standardised assessed work and confidential references. We usually invite around 15-20 candidates to final interviews.
Final interviews are normally held on a Saturday in line with the Gateway timetable.
Those who are invited for a 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.
Offers to successful candidates will be made in accordance with the Pupillage Gateway timetable.
The Pupillage Year
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 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 Chambers’ various specialisations during his or her pupillage. 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 his or her pupillage year if an appropriate opportunity arises.
As well as being an important period of training, pupillage is inevitably also a period of assessment and we strive very hard to ensure that our assessment process is rigorously fair and objective. To that end, the Tenancy Committee seeks to collect as much information on each of our pupils from as wide a range of members of Chambers as possible.
Each pupil supervisor provides a detailed report on all of a pupil’s work during the time the pupil is sitting with him or her, and every other member of Chambers for whom pupils complete a piece of work provides a report on that particular piece (as well as providing detailed feedback to the pupil in person).
In addition, the Tenancy Committee arranges a number of advocacy exercises (typically 6-7) throughout the year, involving the making or defending of applications of the kind that junior tenants might expect to encounter in their first few years of practice, such as applications for summary judgment or security for costs. The first two exercises are not assessed, to enable pupils to ‘find their feet’ as advocates and to receive feedback from the panel. After that, the exercises are assessed, although the training element remains very important.
In addition to the advocacy exercises and their work for their pupil supervisors and other members of Chambers, all pupils complete the same six pieces of standardised assessed work. These are set by six different members of Chambers and span the various specialisms within Chambers. All standardised work is assessed ‘blind’ by the member of Chambers who set it and, again, detailed feedback is then given to the pupils.
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.
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 & beyond
The tenancy decision
The Tenancy Committee monitors the work of pupils throughout the year and each pupil is given a frank and confidential assessment of his or her performance to date in January and again around Easter.
In July, the Committee reports to Chambers and makes recommendations as to those pupils who should be offered tenancies. Those recommendations are based on all of the material collected by the Committee throughout the year: the three pupil supervisors’ reports, the reports on the standardised assessed pieces, the advocacy assessments and the reports of each member of Chambers for whom work has been done.
Tenancies are always offered on merit, not on quotas. If you are good enough, you will be taken on. We aim to ensure that a consistent standard is 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.) We are proud that 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.
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. The overwhelming majority find tenancies at other good chambers. In recent years these have included 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 of £65,000 for 2017/18. Up to £25,000 of the award can be drawn down during the year preceding pupillage (subject to Chambers’ approval).
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. Over the past three years average first year income exceeded £150,000 and average second year income exceeded £250,000 (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 usually repayable within two years of the first draw down. 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).