The competition for pupillage

A wise man once said, ‘you are where you are’.

By the time they apply for pupillage, the average candidate will likely have a few mini-pupillages, maybe a scholarship, have done some volunteering, mooting, and debating etc. This is where you are and it’s what you’re going to have to work with. All of which is fine. Until you look at the statistics.

There were approx. 430 pupillages available in 2018: 315 in London and 111 outside London, across all areas of law. To make things worse, there are around 1,500 students on the BPTC every year and another approx. 2000 BPTC graduates, all of whom apply each year.

Getting pupillage is really competitive

The odds (ok, not everyone starts with an even chance, but let’s assume that for now) are about 1 in 8.

But I’m not an Oxbridge graduate!

And I don’t have enough work experience on my CV.

Theo is a much better advocate than me. I hope he’s not applying to the same sets. Oh no, he is. Well, that’s half my applications down the drain…

OK, I’ve got a few interviews, that’s good, right?!

But wait! I’ve heard the horror stories. They don’t really tear you apart limb from limb do they? Must be an urban legend… [Ed: Wrong]

I didn’t get through to second round.

This must mean that I’m not good enough.  

Maybe I’ll never be good enough.

I am never going to make it.

You are going to think about the competition and how tough it is.

Your peers are going to think about the competition and how tough it is.

You need to stop it.

Because you are just wasting time. And anyway, you should have done that already. The time to think about the competition is before you apply.

If you don’t think you will make it, that’s ok. Firstly, it may not be the job for you. Secondly, you really might not be good enough – 7 out of 8 people won’t be. Thirdly, people’s capacity to withstand personal failure differs. This job is one where failure is hard-wired in. A case has at least one winner and one loser. If that’s not for you – and it isn’t for everyone – then acknowledge it and do something else. But, if you’re going on, then get on with it.

Read on to find out how you can make the best of what you’ve got.


Next page: What does it take to get pupillage?

The competition for pupillage

The struggle is real

Next page: What does it take to get pupillage?