If you aren’t taken on and you want to look around for another set please try and remember that you are starting with a problem. You are a reject. Think about this before you go to a factory.
You must say why you were not taken on. If the truth is that you did not ask to be considered for tenancy then you must prove it. If you just didn’t make the cut, please bear the following in mind:
1. You would have stayed in London if offered a tenancy. Why, now, do you want to come to the provinces? We provincials are chippy. You have to flatter us.
2. There probably won’t be room. Most sets you are applying to already have a pupil who they expect to take on (!). If there is room for you it is because you are too good to miss. Sell yourself hard. References from the pupil master you’ve just left are not the way to do it. Either s/he didn’t like you enough to get you in, or s/he has no clout in their own Chambers.
3. You’ve been on your feet for some time. You should, therefore, know more about the Chambers you are applying to than you did about the sets you applied to for pupillage. You also know more people who can give you the low down. Use it. Flattery has to be at least semi-believeable. See if you can say what you would add to Chambers. Look at the website – see what seminars have just been given. Are you a good fit? Can you tell the speaker what they got wrong? Can you do that tactfully?
4. The poor sod you’re writing to has enough on his plate without listening to you moan. It is easiest to send out the standard, “I’m sorry we have no room” letter. Don’t give them an opportunity to do it. Remember, it is a legitimate test of your ability to ask whether you have told the person you need to convince everything they need to know.
5. So say why Leeds (only an example but you could do worse), why you haven’t got tenancy, whether you applied for pupillage, whether you were interviewed, what has happened in the meantime to make you a better candidate, why these Chambers, what work you have done and want to do, whether you have a local base. Type the letter – your handwriting is dreadful. Address it to the right person (not, please, “Tenancy”). Make an effort.
Most of you do not need this information – yet. Statistics show that about 30% of you will need it next year. Don’t kid yourself – I reckon that I would not get a pupillage nowadays let alone a tenancy and it is getting harder every year.