Reviewing your application form

You are expected, at interview, to be able to discuss anything that you have mentioned on your application form. You are also expected to be able to go beyond it. That’s what this page and those that follow will help you do.

Thinking & preparation time

To be in with a chance of getting pupillage requires thinking through what you put on your form, what you think about the recent developments in your field, thinking about how you are going to address what chambers wants and a multitude of other things.

It also means preparing your notes; going through your application form, getting up to date information on the chambers you are interviewing at, checking the legal developments of the day/week etc. It can also meant thinking deeper about your ‘X’ factor and what you have to offer from a commercial perspective. Thinking and prepairing all this takes time!

Preparation is what separates the wannabees from the final round candidates

Thinking time really does matter, as 5 Essex Court’s 2017 Pupillage Report demonstrates. It tells us what constituted the best responses to questions (paras 24, 47-8). The candidates who performed the best had clearly done their homework in advance of the interview. They had thoroughly prepared. This meant that when faced with, for example, a problem question, they were able to identify and address only the relevant matters and to present persuasive arguments more successfully than the competition.

Now, unless you’re brilliant (you’re not) you won’t be able do this kind of thinking properly at the last minute.

Best to prepare ahead of time.

How to review your application form

  • First, print out your form and read it through once fully.
  • Then, take a pen and go through the form again, making notes on the side as to how you will deliver your points. Notice any areas that you can improve upon or places where you have something new to add.
  • Having already thought about the most important competencies for being a barrister, write the relevant competencies next to each work experience and each answer you have given (see photo for example).
Click or tap the image to enlarge

By the time you’ve done this, you will be fully conversant in every inch of your application. This will be especially helpful when it comes to unpredictable questions; with the basics covered, it gives your brain space to deal with the unexpected.

Preparing your bundle

Having adopted a winning mindset,

Having reviewed your form in detail,

Having done some mock interviews and digested the feedback (see the next page!),

As your interview date draws near,

You need to prepare your bundle.

Your ‘bundle’ is the name for a small folder of materials to help you on the day. Everyone has their own approach to creating this. Whatever you take with you, it should be helpful and only contain those papers that are truly essential. It shouldn’t be more than a small file.

Example contents of your bundle:

  • Application form: this time you should highlight key phrases, write up the relevant competencies in the margins and add in any new information 
  • Up to date notes on the particular chambers (e.g. have they won any new awards/cases, held any events, published any interesting blogs or had any judicial/silk appointments since you applied?)
  • Up to date notes on legal developments in your area(s) of practice
  • Notes on common ethics questions
  • Preparation notes for advocacy exercises (e.g. bail applications/pleas/other problem questions as it applies to your area of practice)

Next page: Mock interviews