Unable to secure a pupillage in London, Shafik Cassim has had more luck in Mauritius
This time last year, I was drafting yet another list of places to apply for pupillage in England and Wales. Little did I know then that I’d find myself doing my pupillage on the beautiful island of Mauritius.
Actually, it wasn’t such a shock. I was born and raised in Mauritius. But with dual British nationality, I had moved several years ago to London to study law; first at undergraduate level, then via an LLM in public international law, before completing the Bar Vocational Course (now the Bar Professional Training Course).
Afterwards, I decided to stay in the UK and attempt to secure pupillage in one of London’s top sets – a quest that proved not unlike chasing the holy grail. After a couple of years of reading rejection letters, I decided to come back to Mauritius, where I secured a pupillage at one of the island’s top sets and was called to the Mauritian Bar.
To Brits without the benefits of dual-nationality, practising abroad is often difficult-to-impossible, with many jurisdictions only allowing their nationals to practise law in their courts. But for barristers who are just after a taster of what it’s like to work overseas, there are plenty of internship opportunities available through the Inns of Court.
Gray’s Inn provides funding for members to study and train in European and commonwealth jurisdictions; Middle Temple offers scholarships to Brussels, Luxembourg, India, Hong Kong, Toronto, Canada and the USA; Inner Temple administers the Pegasus Trust, an internship scheme for barristers under five years of practice from any Inn to work as lawyers in other common law jurisdictions and the European Union; and Lincoln’s Inn offers several scholarships for young barristers to spend time at the courts in Luxembourg, The Hague and Strasbourg.
As I’m finding out, experiencing a different type of law to that which I studied – the Mauritian legal system is a combination of French and British legal traditions – is great for your development as a lawyer. And if you end up somewhere like Mauritius, there’s always the sun and the sandy beaches to look forward to after a hard day at work.