The application process begins with a two day mini-pupillage, which is an essential part of the selection procedure.
Pupillage applications are made through the centralised Pupillage Gateway scheme in the January and February of the calendar year before the pupillage is due to start (i.e. applications in January and February 2017 will be for pupillage commencing October 2018 (and October 2019 should you apply for a deferred pupillage)). A link to the 2017 Pupillage Gateway timetable, which has recently been brought forward, is available here. The key dates are:
- 9 January – window for submission of applications opens
- 7 February – window for submission of applications closes
- 20 March - 3VB conducts its first-round interviews
- 30 March - 3VB conducts its final interviews
- 3 May - offers of pupillage made
Past years have shown that there have been around 120 applicants for up to four pupillage places. Approximately 35 applicants are invited to the first round interview, which comprises a 15-minute discussion with a panel of interviewers about matters arising out of the applicant's CV and application. In addition, applicants will be asked a law-related question, for example on a recent appellate decision (of which they will be notified in advance), to test the applicant's ability to think on their feet, analytical skills and oral advocacy.
Up to fifteen applicants are then invited to the second round interview. Applicants are invited to attend chambers two hours before their interview when they are provided with a legal problem, which forms the subject of discussion during the interview. Applicants have time to prepare submissions in relation to the legal problem under controlled conditions. The interview itself covers two broad stages: first, the applicant is provided with an opportunity to present their oral argument or opinion to the panel, and questions will be asked in relation to that legal problem. Secondly, applicants will be asked questions about their academic record and previous experience. The second round interview lasts approximately thirty minutes.
Chambers usually makes up to four offers through the Pupillage Gateway.
3VB welcomes applications for pupillage from practising solicitors or those completing their training contract.
Transferring (qualified) solicitors are exempt from applying through the Pupillage Gateway under Bar Council regulations. We therefore invite such candidates to apply by way of CV and detailed covering letter, including the names and contact details of two referees. Those applications should be made by email, addressed to the Pupillage Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org, and will be treated in the strictest confidence.
In order to transfer, a certificate of good standing needs to be obtained from the Solicitor's Regulation Authority before an application for permission to transfer to the Bar can be made to the Bar Standards Board. The Bar Standards Board will indicate what sections of the Bar Transfer Test need to be completed and what length of pupillage must be undertaken. Further information is available on the Bar Standards Board website:
The process needs to be begun in good time, and 3VB can provide successful candidates with support throughout the process.