Barristers’ chambers increasingly ask for applications to be submitted online, whether using their own application form or via the centralised Pupillage Gateway system. However, there are still many well-regarded sets that invite applicants for pupillage, the year-long practical stage of barristers’ training, via the traditional CV and covering letter.
Refer to the barristers chambers’ profiles on targetjobs.co.uk, the A–Z of recruiting barristers in TARGETjobs Law, chambers’ websites and the Pupillage Gateway website to research how different chambers want candidates to submit their applications.
Make sure your CV and covering letter are flawless
Accuracy, strong written communication skills and persuasiveness are vital for barristers, so make sure your CV and covering letter demonstrate these qualities. Avoid grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes, choose an easy-to-read font in a reasonable size and print on good quality paper. Make sure you will be easy to reach via the contact details you provide and check that your email address gives the impression of professionalism.
Print both your CV and covering letter off and check them carefully, line by line, before you send them. If possible pass them to someone else to proofread. Your careers adviser will be able to give you useful advice. Keep a copy of each application you submit to refer to if you are invited for interview.
CVs that get your pupillage applications noticed
There are two main types of CV to decide between.
- Traditional CVs give your personal details, qualifications and work experience (both usually in reverse chronological order), achievements, skills (eg languages or specific computer skills), interests and referees’ contact details.
- Skills-based CVs focus on the competences you wish to demonstrate and evidence that you possess these, and can include a brief personal statement or career objective near the start.
Whichever format you opt for, your CV should be a maximum of two pages long and its contents relevant and concise. Try not to leave any periods of time unaccounted for. When you send your CV off, always accompany it with a covering letter. This is a key part of your application and will probably be the first impression a recruiter has of you.
Successful covering letters for pupillage applications
As with your CV, the aim of the accompanying letter is to show recruiters that you meet their requirements and are ideally suited to a pupillage at their set. Covering letters need to be succinct, ideally no longer than one side of A4. Unless specifically stated, recruiters prefer typed or word-processed letters to handwritten ones. Make sure you address the letter to the right person and that you get their name, job title and chambers’ name right – if in doubt, phone up and ask.
How to structure your covering letter
- The opening. Introduce yourself (including what stage you are at in your studies) and, if appropriate, state that you are applying for pupillage and where you saw the advert for this.
- Why them? Devote one paragraph to explaining why you wish to complete your pupillage with their set in particular.
- Why you? Use the next paragraph or two to tell them why you are a good prospect. Write this in accordance with the information in the advert but don’t just repeat the content of your CV.
- The ending. Remember to state your availability for interview and, if you are keen, you could add a politely worded sentence that will give you the chance to follow up the application.