What is the pupillage guide?

Trying to obtain pupillage can be a miserable experience: jumping every time your phone vibrates, feeling the crushing weight of a rejection only days after submitting your application, and waiting agonisingly while your peers get interview offers.

For some, it’s a breeze. But those people are few and far between. For most people, applying for pupillage is a tough, often eye-opening process. It is one in which most will not succeed simply because there are not enough places available for the numbers applying. To make matters worse, there are very few resources online to help candidates navigate the process.

It’s a tough market to crack. We are trying to help.

This site provides is a no-nonsense guide to getting pupillage: it takes you step-by-step through the process. To benefit from it, we do suggest that you read, digest and act upon the advice.

Some of the content will be hard to swallow; you may have to re-evaluate what you’ve been told and you may also have to adjust your expectations. The guide aims to be as comprehensive as possible and so covers several topics (e.g. mindset) which are rarely discussed in this context but which impact on a candidate’s success.

The guide details each step taken by Beheshteh to get pupillage. Once drafted, she got in touch with many of her successful friends and incorporated their comments and tips, before seeking and integrating additional feedback from a range of practising barristers.

It became clear through this “crowdsourcing” of advice that the vast majority of the wisdom included here is not made public (which makes life very hard for applicants) and that while some of it may seem controversial, everyone agreed with almost all the points mentioned.

It also reflects experience at the coal face. That should hopefully give you confidence in the quality of the advice. However, please note that it isn’t worth picking and choosing from this guide – if you do that, you’re not likely to see much benefit. Of course, results are not guaranteed. However, we hope that after reading this guide you will feel better prepared and/or finally have the knowledge as to what it takes to get pupillage.

 What this guide is not

It is not a cheat sheet. This guide will not help you get pupillage if you copy/paste parts of it. Furthermore, while we think the guide is comprehensive, it’s always possible something was missed. Bottom line: the guide is intended to provide information and guidance on how to produce answers and present yourself in the best light, nothing more.

Finally, please remember that this is a free resource which stands at c. 22,000 words and took almost 300 hours to create. At its heart is the desire to demystify this process and to help the next generation of barristers.


The bulk of the material presented in this guide derives from the ‘system’ used by one student in particular.

Other parts of the advice given are from the author’s peers, reproduced with their permission.

We don’t call it an expert guide. But it is the first and only guide around of its kind. And we are cumulatively as expert as anyone else offering anything.

This guide is primarily the work of students – it is based on their successful experiences of obtaining pupillage in the 2017 and 2018 rounds. Some of the advice came from careers experts and senior barristers but most of the content and the way in which the content was translated into action, was figured out by the author. It’s been checked by a senior silk. We reckon it’s right, and we anticipate that you will find this guide useful.

Some of the advice may seem obvious, even downright offensive.

Nonetheless, covering the basics in thorough detail is still essential, because candidates keep making the same mistakes every year. The reason why you will have heard the same generic ‘don’t put the wrong chambers name’ advice before is simply that it happens! This guide therefore covers the basics in plenty of detail before addressing the advanced topics. Remember, what may be ‘obvious’ to you may be new information to someone else.

Also, everyone misses things – check every inch of this guide to ensure that you’re giving yourself the best possible chance of getting pupillage.

Not all the advice will apply to every candidate, nor to all areas of practice.

It may be less relevant for chancery/commercial bar candidates. Furthermore, things change quickly in the legal world; what may be true of one year may not be so the next. It is therefore important to keep abreast of developments as much as possible.

This is just one way to get pupillage.

We can’t assess the likelihood of you personally securing pupillage, nor can we guarantee that you will succeed.

But we hope that this guide will help. 


Next page: Why write a pupillage guide?