Your application timeline: key dates for getting hired as a pupil barrister

Our term-by-term guide explains the steps you need to take in order to meet application deadlines for the conversion course, Bar professional training course and pupillage.

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Our term-by-term guide explains the steps you need to take to meet application deadlines for the conversion course, Bar course and pupillage.

Second-year law or final-year non-law students

Autumn term

  • Read targetjobs Law . Pick up a paper copy from your careers service or use the online version available in our law advice section.
  • Get to know your own strengths and weaknesses, then assess your suitability for the Bar. Do you have the key skills and qualities you need to be a barrister?
  • Research the different areas that barristers practise in and decide what sort of chambers you’d like to do pupillage with. See the areas of practice overviews in our law advice section.
  • Attend careers service events for aspiring lawyers.
  • Draft a CV for mini-pupillages applications and get it checked by a careers adviser.
  • Investigate funding possibilities for the Bar course (this was formerly called the BPTC – Bar professional training course – and is now referred to by different names at different providers). Be sure to check the closing dates.

Christmas vacation and spring term

  • Apply for mini-pupillages and organise any legal work experience you can (use the targetjobs Law Pupillages Handbook for research).
  • Look into other useful experience (mooting, visiting court).
  • If you’re planning to start your Bar course this calendar year, join an Inn of Court. You need to be admitted as a student member 12 weeks at the latest before the start of your Bar course. Consider applying for an Inn scholarship.
  • Apply for the Bar course aptitude test (BCAT). You can book from early May until the following March. You won’t be able to start the Bar training course until you have passed the test, and, as slots are limited, the Bar Standards Board advises that you book early.
  • If you’re not studying for a qualifying law degree, apply for a conversion course place (usually in February of the year the course is due to start). Use the targetjobs Law paper publication to identify a suitable course.
  • Prepare scholarship applications for conversion courses (if relevant).

Summer

  • Undertake mini-pupillages or other legal work experience.

Final-year law or conversion-year students

Autumn term

  • Investigate the pupillage application procedure and check any early closing dates.
  • Join an Inn of Court and find out what help it can offer.
  • Research Bar course providers using the targetjobs Law paper publication.
  • As part of your research into course providers, check you meet the application requirements. As well as having passed the BCAT, you’ll need to be fluent in English. If it’s not your first language, you may need to pass an English language exam.
  • Attend the targetjobs National Pupillage Fair and get your copy of the new targetjobs
  • Law Pupillages Handbook.
  • Make scholarship applications for the Bar course.
  • Apply for the Bar course via your chosen course provider.
  • Make sure you’ve got funding in place for your course.
  • Prepare your pupillage applications – make sure you get a careers adviser to look them over.
  • Make pupillage applications online for sets using the Pupillage Gateway system – adverts are available to view from December and applications open in early January and close in early February. See www.pupillagegateway.com for more information.

Spring and summer

  • Apply individually to chambers that do not use the Pupillage Gateway application system.
  • Attend pupillage interviews. Be aware that some sets may have interviews close to your exam period.
  • Be ready to respond to pupillage offers by chambers using Pupillage Gateway in May.

The stages of training to become a barrister

Academic stage

  • Law degree or non-law degree plus appropriate conversion course (fees: £6,000–£13,000).

Vocational stage

  • The Bar course is run by nine institutions. Fees: from £4,000 for part one only–£19,500 for both parts.

Practical stage

  • Undertake pupillage in chambers before securing a tenancy, often with the same set, or completing a ‘third six’.

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