What do we offer?
We offer a 12-month pupillage in accordance with the requirements of the Bar Standards Board; and with an emphasis throughout on training in all of the skills required of an excellent commercial chancery practitioner.
We only offer pupillage to candidates who demonstrate that they have the ability and skills to become tenants in Chambers. We have no limit on the number of tenancies offered in any given year and pupils are never in competition with each other. We have for many years recruited as tenants most, or all, of our pupils. Provided a candidate meets the requisite standard based on their own performance, a tenancy is offered.
From September 2023 a pupillage award of £70,000 is offered to all pupils in Chambers. Up to £30,000 of the award may be drawn down in advance during the BPT year or to pay BPT fees. The balance of the award is paid in instalments monthly in advance over the course of the 12 months of pupillage. We also fund the compulsory courses required of pupils by the Bar Standards Board.
Prospective pupils may also be able to obtain awards from the Inns of Court to assist in funding their GDL and/or BPT years. Applications for these awards should be made to the Inns.
In light of the emphasis we place on advocacy training (see below), our pupils are not expected to practise during their second six prior to the tenancy decision. After the tenancy decision, pupils who have been offered tenancy may be offered certain work provided their pupil supervisor gives permission.
Life In Pupillage
Pupils are assessed over a 40-week period. Pupils usually sit with four pupil supervisors, with each rotation lasting 10 weeks. Pupil supervisors are mid to senior-level juniors and only ever have one pupil at a time. Subject to special arrangements during the Covid-19 pandemic, you will sit in your pupil supervisor’s room, accompany them to court and arbitration hearings and mediations/other settlement meetings and (other than for exceptional reasons) attend their conferences and telephone conferences. This gives you broad exposure to the major tools of the commercial barrister’s trade – advocacy (written and oral), drafting pleadings, opinion writing, legal research, preparation of notes on evidence, trial preparation (including witness handling) and negotiation skills.
ADVOCACY TRAINING AND ASSESSMENT
Further, at regular intervals throughout the pupillage assessment period, you will participate in Maitland’s in-house advocacy training and assessment programme. Each individual exercise takes the form of mock hearings, for which you prepare from a set of papers given to you in advance, just as you would in practice. Senior Members of Chambers act as the tribunal, dealing with your application as it would be dealt with if genuinely made in court.
These exercises have a two-fold purpose: they are both part of your assessment process, and are also designed to help you develop the oral advocacy skills you will need as a practitioner in a supportive environment. We believe that success in our profession ultimately depends upon a barrister’s level of accomplishment as a court advocate and, accordingly, we consider the advocacy training and assessment programme a key part of the pupillage process.
A further key aspect of your training is in professional ethics. We run a workshop devoted to the barrister’s professional obligations, during which you are asked how you would react to particularly testing scenarios. Again, detailed feedback is provided at this workshop, which is run by senior Members of Chambers who draw upon many years of experience.
LIFE IN CHAMBERS
We recognise that pupillage is demanding, and we do our best to make it as interesting, enjoyable and rewarding an experience as possible.
Pupils are not expected to work late in the evenings or at weekends, although, due to the nature of practice, there may be times when some longer hours are necessary.
Pupils are welcomed into and encouraged to participate in the social life of Chambers. During pupillage, pupils will often have lunch with their pupil supervisors and other Members of Chambers (juniors’ fish and chips on a Friday is a regular event), and are welcome at Chambers' social events, such as Thursday evening’s post-work drinks.
Each year, there are two pupil mentors who are Members of Chambers with experience of pupillage (as pupils and/or pupil supervisors). They play no part in the assessment process; and are available to speak to pupils, in confidence in appropriate circumstances, about personal and professional issues which any pupil cannot or does not want to raise with their supervisor.
THE TENANCY DECISION
We take our decision as to whether or not to offer tenancy after around 40 weeks of assessment.
We believe in providing continuous constructive feedback to our pupils on their work, which is done through detailed discussion and an objective grading system (set against the standard we expect of a junior tenant), so you have a clear idea of how well you are progressing, what you do well, what needs improving and (crucially) how to do that. Pupil supervisors provide detailed feedback on individual pieces of work and on the pupil’s progress at the end of each 10-week rotation. The advocacy assessors also provide detailed feedback as soon after each individual advocacy exercise as possible to help you identify existing strengths and areas which require improvement. The objective grading system used by the pupil supervisors is also used by the advocacy assessors.
We invest heavily in our pupils and hope that every pupil will meet the required standard by the time the tenancy decision is made. But inevitably there are times when this does not happen. Chambers is committed to making every effort to find good homes for any of our pupils who are not offered tenancies. The overwhelming majority find tenancies at other good Chambers.
Life as a junior tenant
As soon as you become a Member of Chambers, you will take on responsibility for running your own smaller scale cases, typically in the fields of insolvency, company, property, partnership, trusts and general commercial litigation. In addition, you are likely to be led by silks or senior juniors in heavier disputes, which will give you invaluable experience of seeing established practitioners conducting litigation. This combination of independent practice and collaboration will develop your skills as both an advocate and a tactician from the outset.
Our junior tenants are encouraged to develop their expertise across all of Chambers’ main areas of work; but equally are free to specialise if they wish.
As one of the largest of the leading sets in our field, we have the highest levels of administrative support. You will have access to excellent resources and a dedicated team of staff to help you manage and grow your practice.
We also offer exceptional professional support in the early years of practice. You will be welcomed into an open and friendly environment, where members look out for each other and offer a strong network of mutual support. Your colleagues’ doors will always be open, whether you want to discuss a difficult point of law or just drop in for a quick chat.
Whilst barristers are self-employed and earnings therefore vary, our experience is that the earnings of first year tenants at Maitland generally far exceed the pupillage award and compare favourably to first year earnings at other commercial Chambers and city solicitor firms. In any event, Maitland also offers a Cash Flow Assistance Scheme for the benefit of junior tenants who have successfully completed their pupillage. This scheme operates within the first two years of practice and further details can be provided on request.
Your pupillage application
Maitland is a member of the Pupillage Gateway and applications for pupillage are made in accordance with the Gateway timetable. Please visit the Gateway website here.
ELIGIBILITY TO APPLY
We welcome applications both from law and non-law graduates and recognise that training in other disciplines can be good preparation for a career at the Bar. We have in recent years offered pupillages and tenancies to those with law degrees and those who converted to law after their undergraduate degrees in roughly equal numbers.
All candidates must have obtained (or be predicted) a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree or equivalent; and be “on track” to being qualified to start pupillage in September 2023 (whether by completing the Bar Professional Training before then or by any other relevant qualification pathway).
We also accept applications from candidates who are already qualified as legal practitioners in England & Wales or in other jurisdictions. On occasion, it may be possible for such a candidate to be recruited outside the pupillage process; and we are happy to consider any individual case. But for most candidates who have not previously practiced as advocates in England & Wales, we regard a Gateway application and a full pupillage thereafter as appropriate, even if from a regulatory point of view the Bar Standards Board would be prepared to waive some or all of the candidate’s pupillage requirements upon transfer to the English Bar.
Unsuccessful applicants for pupillage may apply for a second time in a subsequent year. However, we do not accept further applications from candidates who have applied twice previously.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
We receive around 100-200 application forms each year through the Gateway from which we select up to 40 first round interviewees and then approximately 10 second round interviewees. We generally offer up to three places for pupillage per year.
At every stage, candidates are assessed by reference to the four qualities which we think are necessary to excel in our area of practice, namely: (1) reasoning and analytical ability, (2) aptitude for advocacy, (3) judgment and (4) interpersonal skills and temperament. Our process is intended to draw out from each candidate the best available evidence of those qualities.
THE APPLICATION FORM
Candidates are required to complete the standard Gateway application form, together with certain questions added by us. The whole content of your application form will be assessed for evidence of the four qualities for which we recruit. But you may find it helpful to bear in mind the following general pointers:
- When assessing reasoning and analytical ability, we look closely at your academic history which you will be required to explain in detail in the relevant parts of the form. But we also recognise that academic achievement must been seen in context: to that end, we give all candidates the opportunity to provide contextual personal data through the Rare Contextual Recruitment System (see below) and we also take into account other personal circumstances set out in the relevant parts of the application form. In addition, we recognise that strong reasoning and analytical ability can in some cases be evidenced by a candidate’s employment history or other non-academic activities: if you think this may be the case for you, we would encourage you to lay out explicitly the relevant evidence in your form.
- In relation to the other three qualities for which we recruit (aptitude for advocacy, judgment and interpersonal skills & temperament), we recognise that every candidate will have different personal circumstances; and that relevant evidence may come from a wide variety of life experience. For this reason, our application form does not ask for specific types of evidence (eg. “What mooting have you undertaken?”). Instead, it asks candidates to set out the evidence which they consider most relevant. This will be different for each candidate. But when completing these questions, please bear in mind that concrete examples of things which you did (together with any necessary explanation of why those things were difficult or impressive) will always be more helpful that general assertions as to your abilities.
- Although the standard Gateway form asks for your history of legal work experience and we will consider any evidence which you provide, we have no requirement that candidates should have completed mini-pupillages or similar activities. Again, we recognise that every candidate’s circumstances will be different.
- Finally, practice at the Bar (and membership of our Chambers) requires the highest standards of personal integrity. We expect candidates to complete application forms with complete honesty and also to give disclosure of any circumstances which should be drawn to our attention. Naturally, we reserve the right to take robust action in the event that any candidate is discovered (either during the application process of later) to have breached those requirements.
In addition to the application form, all candidates are also offered the opportunity to provide us with information as to personal and economic background through the Rare Contextual Recruitment System, which is used to contextualise the candidate’s application and in particular their academic results. Provision of this information is entirely voluntary. We use the Rare System as a “screen in” tool, not a “screen out” tool; and under no circumstances are candidates ever marked down either for supplying or for not supplying this information.
Once all forms and Rare submissions have been received, they are each anonymised and provided to at least two Members of Chambers to be independently scored for evidence of the four qualities for which we recruit. Scores are then moderated between the readers to enable a shortlist of approximately 30 candidates to be selected for interview. Regrettably, we often find that there are more suitable candidates than there are available first round interview places, and allocate those places to the candidates with the highest scores after moderation.
The first round interview lasts for approximately 25 minutes and is held in front of a panel of two or three Members of Chambers. It involves some general questions and a longer discussion of a hypothetical case. That hypothetical case will have been designed to test your general reasoning and analysis, rather than your legal knowledge, and you will be given a short period of time to consider and prepare thoughts on it before your interview.
The second round interview lasts for approximately 30 minutes and focusses on the more detailed study of a hypothetical case (which will, again, be designed to engage your general reasoning abilities rather than any specialist legal knowledge). This case is then discussed with a panel of up to five barristers, including one or more of our QCs. Interviewees are asked to come to Chambers in time to allow themselves 60 minutes of preparation.
The interviews are intended to draw out evidence of the same four fundamental qualities on which we recruit. In relation to the hypothetical cases, a perfect candidate would be able to pick out the issues from the case materials; think through their implications; reach judgments as to the best solution which are both well-reasoned and commercially realistic; explain the issues and their reasoning to the interview panel in clear terms; take on board challenges to that reasoning by the panel; follow through the logic of new points “on their feet”; work out and explain available counter-arguments; have the good judgment to change their views where appropriate (or not, as the case may be) and interact with the panel in an appropriate and engaging manner throughout. But of course we are well aware that the perfect candidate does not exist. Our interviews are intended to be enjoyable but also to involve an intellectual “work out”: most candidates will get into difficulties at some point during their interviews, and how they recover is itself part of the assessment. We enjoy getting to know candidates in this way, as thinkers and future advocates; and we hope that candidates will leave feeling energised and enthused by the experience.
At the end of each interview, candidates will be scored independently by each interviewer on the four qualities for which we recruit, before scores are moderated so that candidates may be ranked.
Our current policy is that consideration will be given, on a case by case basis, to requests to defer an offer of pupillage. If you would wish to make such a request, it would be helpful if you could indicate that fact (together with the reasons for deferral, and the length of deferral which you would seek) in your application form or, if that is not possible, as early as possible in the application process.
Equality & diversity
Maitland Chambers has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, both within our own set of Chambers and across the Bar as a whole. We are proud of that commitment. We are also proud of our internal processes for fair recruitment, which reflect (we believe) the very best practice currently in use at the commercial and chancery Bar and are kept under regular review.
But we also understand that, given the long-term and structural inequalities of life in our country, more is required to ensure that our Chambers (and the commercial and chancery Bar as a whole) fully reflect the diversity of the society which we serve. We welcome applications from people from all sections of society regardless of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief or age and encourage applications from groups presently under-represented at the commercial and Chancery Bar. Current chambers initiatives specifically designed to promote such applications include:
- Our in house Mentoring Scheme for potential applicants from ethnic groups underrepresented at the commercial / chancery Bar (including, in particular, black applicants)
- Our regular Women at the Commercial Chancery Bar events
We are also strongly supportive of initiatives to increase the diversity of new talent joining the commercial and Chancery Bar generally, including through our participation in the Sutton Trust’s Pathways to Law programme, the Social Mobility Foundation’s Bar Placement Scheme, our sponsorship of the Cambridge Law Faculty’s Access and Widening Participation Scheme, the involvement of our members in the Chancery Bar Association’s “Step into law and MORE” scheme, and the participation of members in a wide variety of mentoring schemes and other outreach activities.
Chambers makes reasonable adjustments in respect of disabled candidates for pupillage. Relevant details are sought in the course of the application process. Potential applicants who would like to discuss reasonable adjustments in advance of applying are also welcome to contact the Pupillage Secretary.
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THIRD SIX VACANCIES
We are not seeking currently applications for Third Six Vacancies.