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The real story

The real story ....

Read Chambers Student Guide's report on Maitland Chambers (published October 2019)

ChambersStudent2020.jpg

Duncan McCombe's account of a 'Day in the life of .... a young junior barrister'

Oliver Phillips, Rosanna Foskett and Catherine Addy's interviews in TARGETjobs Law on practising in the fields of Chancery, Company and Insolvency

Thomas Munby and Adam Smith's accounts of life practising in Commercial and Property law in the Training Contact & Pupillage Handbook

'The pupil experience' feature in the Pupillages Handbook written by Amanda Hadkiss and Edward Meuli.

Hannah Ilett's report on her route to pupillage on LawCareers.net.

 

Pupillage

Why Maitland?

When choosing where to do your pupillage, it is important that you feel confident about the reputation of Chambers. Maitland has been regarded for many years as one of the pre-eminent sets of Chambers in the field of commercial and Chancery litigation. We handle a very wide range of business and property litigation and are consistently ranked as a leading set in all our areas of expertise across commercial, civil fraud, banking and finance, company, insolvency, partnership, offshore and property litigation.

Our major appeal for you as both a pupil and tenant lies in the combination of high quality instructions we receive, the breadth of the work and the volume of advocacy we do, together with the level of training we offer during pupillage to ensure that our pupils are ready for tenancy should they be taken on as a member of Chambers.

We are instructed in a huge range of cases, ranging from major international litigation to domestic contractual and property disputes of all kinds. The majority of our work is done in London, though we frequently advise and appear for clients in other parts of the United Kingdom and abroad, in particular in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Channel Islands, Hong Kong and Singapore.

What do we offer?

Maitland offers up to three guaranteed twelve-month pupillages each year with substantial pupillage awards of £65,000 (for September 2020).

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 so they are not 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. 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.

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.

Training during pupillage

Pupil supervisors

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. 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 mock 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.

Professional ethics

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, but we do our best to make it as interesting, enjoyable and rewarding an experience as possible.

Each year, there are two pupil mentors who are junior practitioners with recent experience of having undertaken pupillage. They 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.

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.

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 written work, which is done through an objective grading system, so you have a clear idea of how well you are progressing. Pupil supervisors provide detailed feedback on individual pieces of work and 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.

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 cases, typically in the fields of property, insolvency, company, partnership, trusts and general business litigation. In addition, you are likely be led by silks or senior juniors in heavier commercial 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. You will have your own room in Chambers but 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, to some extent, earnings therefore vary depending on how individuals wish to run their practices, our experience is that the average earnings of first year tenants at Maitland far exceed the pupillage award and compare favourably to first year earnings at other commercial Chambers and city solicitor firms. Maitland also operates 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

Our continued success as a leading set of Chambers depends on our recruitment of the most talented people. There is no such thing as a “Maitland type” – it is ability, not background, which is key to our recruitment process.

We look for a first-class mind, a sense of commercial practicality, and someone who will enjoy and be stimulated by the challenge of advocacy.

Academically we look for a first or upper second class honours degree.

You must have an aptitude for and general enjoyment of complex legal argument (both orally and in writing). Successful applicants often have some experience of mooting, debating or some other public speaking, but we recognise that there are different ways in which a candidate can evidence such skill.

Maitland is a member of the Pupillage Gateway. The timetable for applications in 2020 can be found on their website.

From the application forms and interviews we make assessments about a variety of core skills, including: candidates' academic ability; interest in and aptitude for the Bar, advocacy and commercial and chancery work; articulacy; clarity of thought; reasoning ability; judgment; practice management temperament and interpersonal skills.

All applications are read by two or three members of Chambers in order to select candidates for interview. The readers mark the applications in accordance with a set of assessment criteria and a moderation process then takes place. First-round interviews are conducted in front of a panel of three members of Chambers and second-round interviews by up to five. The panels assess by reference to an objective set of marking criteria. All members of Chambers involved in the process have received fair recruitment training.

Funding and awards

From September 2020 a pupillage award of £65,000 is offered to all pupils in Chambers. Up to £20,000 of the award may be drawn down in advance during the BPTC year or to pay BPTC 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 BPTC years. Applications for these awards should be made to the Inns.

Equality & diversity

Maitland is committed to promoting a working environment which is conducive to the professional growth of its barristers and employees and to the promotion of equality of opportunity. This applies to all aspects of our work, whether in recruitment of barristers and staff, the day to day work of our members and pupils, or in dealing with clients.

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.

Disabled applicants who would like to discuss reasonable adjustments to the application process are asked to contact the Pupillage Secretary.

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“The effort Maitland puts in to training its pupils is extraordinary.  Feedback is frequent, structured and constructive, such that each pupil knows what they have to improve and how they should seek to do it.  The fact that there is no competition for places creates a friendly, supportive environment in which to develop one’s skills;  weekly drinks help too.”

James Kinman

"I think I can sum it up best by saying that I genuinely enjoyed what many people will tell you is an enormously stressful and difficult year.

From day one, you instantly get the impression that chambers, and your supervisors in particular, care deeply about pupil development. Supervisors generally do not allow pupils to be “hired” out to other members, which allows you to focus on the particular piece of work you have been given.

The grading system used to mark work is one of the best features of pupillage as it leaves you in no doubt where you stand. This allows you to see the areas where further work is needed, and it was also invaluable nearer the time of the tenancy decision when many of my contemporaries at other sets were largely in the dark as to their likely future.”

Laurie Brock

"My skills improved immeasurably during pupillage, this was down to the emphasis placed by Chambers on the education of pupils through the advocacy training programme, the ethics workshops and the extensive feedback of pupil supervisors.”

Duncan McCombe

"I found the structured programme of advocacy exercises during pupillage to be valuable training for junior practice.”

Narinder Jhittay