I know that this may not be timely for OLPAS but I thought you might like to think about what not to write on an application form or covering letter. This was prompted by a random sampling of this year’s offerings (I have nothing to do with pupillage at my Chambers so merely browsed through some forms), but includes some of the things I remember over the years. It is up to you how you take it: if you want to cheer yourself up by realising quite how idiotic some of your putative colleagues would be, that’s fine. However, please remember that most people – like you – take a good deal of time over these things. These are best viewed as examples of how the pressure can get to you so that your judgement goes down the Swanee.
No names and no dates. Quotes are added for dramatic effect, rather than representing word-for-word accuracy. However, all these things have genuinely been said. If you recognise yourself then please note that someone else might have been just as daft. If, however, you think that any of these extracts are sensible, please rethink your career plans.
I want to come to Chambers because my aim in life is to lead the fight against the crime that is abortion.
I have wanted to practice on the Northern Circuit since I first conceived of coming to the Bar [in an application to a set in Leeds]
Academic Achievements: 4 grade A* and 5 grade As at GCSE, 3 grade As at A-Level and a Very Competent on the BVC [and I don’t think you are bright enough to ask for my degree result].
I think I would be an excellent barrister because my mother has always said I am very argumentative.
After having difficulties in my 3rd year, I scaled back my expectations and am thus applying to your Chambers.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? [Trans: who will guard the guardians? Pretentious? Moi?]
Take out that covering letter and check it again.
Many years ago we had a sub-continental applicant who said he wanted to come to the Bar because he felt it would increase his chance of gaining permanent residence in the UK.