Exclusive: Aspiring barrister asked to pay £10 for feedback after unsuccessful 3PB pupillage interview

And she’s paid it

An aspiring barrister hoping to train at 3PB was “astonished” when she was asked to pay a £10 administration fee to obtain pupillage interview feedback.

The student in question told Legal Cheek she recently interviewed at the chambers’ London HQ for a position at one of its regional outposts. Having thought the interview went well, the wannabe barrister — who we have chosen not to name — was “surprised” when she didn’t get through to the second round.

Keen to find out where she went wrong, the Russell Group university student requested feedback and scoring from 3PB, a mixed practice set. Then, she was told:

We have a policy of not providing feedback or marks for any candidate who is unsuccessful in the paper sift or the first round interviews at 3PB.

Though there are no specific rules requiring chambers to provide feedback to unsuccessful pupillage applications, the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) ‘Pupillage Handbook’ lists it as “good practice”. A spokesperson for 3PB wished to point out to us it does give “substantive feedback to candidates after second interview.”

Not content, the unhappy student — who has made “well over” 100 pupillage applications and “always” asks for feedback — told us she sought advice from her university’s careers service. She was advised to make a Data Protection Act 1998 “subject access request” which she did. The 3PB team informed her it was “happy to comply” with the request, but:

[T]here is a standard administration charge of £10 which you will need to pay 3PB before any further action is taken.

The student, “desperate” for feedback, has now paid. According to her correspondence with the set, seen by Legal Cheek, 3PB has 40 days to “collate and send everything” it has about the student to her. She has described the whole experience as “demoralising”, and told us:

I think if chambers show they are unwilling to support those at the start of the recruitment process, then it is debatable whether they will be a supportive pupillage provider long term and during tenancy.

A spokesperson for 3PB said it receives “an enormous number of applicants” and this year interviewed just over 50 candidates. He added:

We have to strike the balance between giving as many people as possible a chance to interview and being in a position to give substantive feedback on each candidate. I regret time does not permit the latter when we interview so many… It is always possible for anyone to make a request under the data protection act. The charge is set out and is discretionary.

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136 Comments

Does not know Katie King

Here’s a better headline:

Exclusive: 3PB charges fee for subject access request, as is allowed by the Data Protection Act

This really is not a story.

(196)(26)
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Does not know Katie King

From ICO guidance:

“Can I charge a fee for dealing with a subject access request?

Yes, an organisation receiving a subject access request may charge a fee for dealing with it, except in certain circumstances relating to health records.”

In other news, Exclusive: aspiring barrister pays £1.50 bus fare to attend pupillage interview.

Exclusive: Student pays £3 for lunch at Tesco

(74)(15)
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Anonymous

Agreed. This isn’t even false news it’s farcical news — charging for a data protection request is routine.

I appreciate she is disappointed about the failure at interview and their stance on providing feedback, but the recruitment process is fairly resource-intensive for chambers (sifting, interviewing, further sifts, etc), so saying they do not give feedback in certain circumstances is understandable.

This article is silly.

(38)(11)
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Anonymous

Look at the posts on The Student Room. She posted on there earlier today that she had been charged for feedback. Everyone was outraged and encouraged her to report it to BSB and tip off Legal Cheek.

What no one on TSR knew was that it was an admin fee for a subject access request under the Data Protection Act, not a fee for feedback (as even the misleading headline of this article suggests).

(47)(0)
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Scep Tick

Yes, but she had to pay for the data subject request because 3PB would not provide feedback. It was the only way to get it.

No wonder the Bar is such a posh boys’ closed shop if we mere plebs have to pay just to find out what went wrong.

(4)(21)
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Anonymous

This is nonsense. Most organisations restrict the categories of people to whom they will provide feedback. It is too resource-intensive to do otherwise.

(12)(0)
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Anonymous

I wonder which Careers Service thought it was a brillo idea to make a subject access request in these circumstances?

To anyone out there reading this, student or careers’ advisor, it’s definitely not a good idea.

(16)(2)
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Anonymous

Probably one those sham BPTC providers run by private equity fund. She should ask for a refund of her fees – now that is a good idea.

(6)(0)
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Anonymous

Does not know Katie King hits the nail on the head.

The headline is manifestly incorrect, she was charged a fee to make a Subject Access Request, not for the feedback per se.

(7)(0)
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Anonymous

Sometimes Legal Cheek produce decent material. Other times, like here, it is nothing more than gutter press out for maximum clicks with a misleading headline.

(13)(0)
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Outrage

This a cunning plan to by the new clerk who deserted 1 Gary’s Inn Square Chambers to ensure that only his “people” apply to 3PB.

(2)(6)
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Anonymous

So your theory/allegation is that there is a Machiavellian clerk at 3PB, who is determined to only recruit “1 Gary’s Inn Square” (Sic) BPTC students/people and he is achieving this by legitimately charging £10 for a SAR?

How do I become a 1 Gary’s Inn Square BPTC student? Clearky that’s a sure fire way of getting pupillage at 3PB!

(8)(0)
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BarryStir

I am not from 3PB. What is it about “entitlement” ……………… You failed get over it. “But I ALWAYS ask for feedback” ………….

(3)(2)
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Anonymous

50?! Lol. That’s hardly any. It would take about 5 minutes to write up some feedback at the end of the interview.

What a load of balls.

(22)(8)
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Anonymous

The way barristers behave is outrageous. In any other profession it wouldn’t be allowed.

It’s basically because none of them have ever had a proper job, ever.

(13)(37)
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Barrister

LOL, you are a law student, how would you know? As it happens, I have had multiple “proper jobs” and had to work about 10% as hard as I work now.

(11)(2)
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Anonymous

What a ridiculous thing to say. Barristers give up their spare time to sit on pupillage panels. They are regulated intensely to make sure the process is fair.

To suggest that they are elitist or posh for not spending even more of their own time providing inevitably generic feedback to law students is laughable.

(7)(0)
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Pepe the Frog

Good luck to her if she had wanted to apply to them again next year. Can’t be difficult for them to figure out who this is. Going to LC with this shows, ahem, great judgement!

(16)(2)
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Anonymous

Erm… after demanding an organisation to give you feedback via FOI, I doubt going to a newspaper will make you any less likely to interview again.

(11)(0)
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Anonymous

Katie, you should know that any Subject Access Request costs £10 as per the ICO guidance, so all 3PB have done is ask for the fee which they are legally entitled to. I do not see how this is Exclusive News? Some please enlighten me?

(27)(3)
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Anonymous

£10 sounds like a fair fee to cover time/admin and is consistent with fee for a subject access request. Non-story and does not impact 3PB’s reputation.

(11)(4)
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Anonymous

I understand the desire for feedback, and as a pupillage interviewer I am happy to give it. However, in my experience the feedback is hardly ever about something that the person can work on or change, and is frequently “You weren’t as good as the candidates we chose.”

(28)(1)
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Anonymous

This isn’t spin, it’s a demonstrably untrue headline. She paid £10 to request the data chambers held on her per the DPA.

It won’t be the feedback she seeks.

First round feedback is always the same, either:

1. We liked 10 people more than you and are giving them a second round.

2. You are a nutjob/sleep inducingy dull/odd/a mixture of the previous. Your form doesn’t disclose this but you are. Big time.

3. You lied about something on your form.

Number 1 is unhelpful. Numbers 2 and 3 are subjective and open a can of worms.

Post second round, chambers can and usually will give some nuanced feedback. Stop asking after a first round in the hope that they will stroke your ego or suggest one tiny magical change that will open the magical portal to Narnia/pupillage.

(31)(7)
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Anonymous

Some candidates who go on to be excellent barristers often don’t find pupillage straight away, or during their first application cycle.

(3)(1)
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Anonymous

People are comparing pupillage feedback requests to Subject Access Requests, and I cannot understand why. The context here is different.

Pupillage is obviously very difficult to get, applicants pour a lot of time and effort into making their applications, and they agonise over any interviews they obtain. The least chambers can do is take a minute to email whatever notes they made of the rejected applicant in interview, provided they’re not offensive ones.

(11)(5)
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Anonymous

Exactly. So she made a subject access request for which she was asked to pay an admin fee. Hence comments surrounding subject access requests.

(1)(0)
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Anonymous

No. The least they can do is to not give feedback. You are asking a small group of people to do something that is quite resource-intensive that they will not be paid for. Most organisations restrict the number of people to whom they will give feedback. It is not unreasonable.

She asked, they said no. That’s fair. She made a DPA SAR and they said yes if you pay the fee. That is also fair.

(2)(0)
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Anonymous

Saying they interviewed 60+ people is no excuse when top ranked chambers interview at least the same no of candidates and often do provide several lines worth of feedback.

Feedback after 1st round provides candidates with much needed info. Sometimes, yes, it’s that one was not as good as another 10X candidates, but my educated guess for strong candidates is that often it’s just one or two tweaks needed to get to second round/offer stage. With feedback, those tweaks can be made. Without, it’s a lot harder to do. And most importantly, chambers really don’t have any excuse/good reason not to do it.

(8)(6)
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Anonymous

Have you ever conducted first round pupillage interviews? Pontificating from a position of ignorance about the ease of giving meaningful feedback must be nice but is ultimately useless.

(15)(4)
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Anonymous

Your response highlights the real issue here – this is not about time, it’s about attitude. Some chambers believe that taking the time to note down a few points of feedback (and giving it upon request) is a worthwhile thing to do. Other chambers disagree. All I did was point out that if many sets can do it, other sets don’t really have an excuse anymore.

(4)(7)
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Anonymous

It probably is but that is no reason not to do the best you can. It’s only fair given the amount of time candidates give up to apply and how thankless the task is for them. I see it as part of why we offer pupillage, i.e. to sustain the future of the profession.

(3)(2)
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Anonymous

You make it sound like pupillage applicant are doing chambers a favour- they’re not. They aren’t owed anything except a fair interview process. If you accept that the first interview feedback would be meaningless rubbish, what possible benefit could anyone gain from giving/receiving it?

(3)(0)
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DB

Outer Temple Chambers binned me after first round (their loss) but did provide fabulously detailed feedback on scoring and their criteria. Not only would that be exceptionally helpful if I was to apply again, it also makes me (now a practitioner elsewhere) hold them in high regard.

Taking the time to provide constructive feedback reflects well on Chambers and assists pupils; it is a shame 3PB find it too draining on resources.

(15)(0)
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Anonymous

That’s a good point. I was interviewed by a certain chambers (which I won’t name) who tersely refused (uniquely out of my two dozen or so interviews) to provide feedback. Now in practice elsewhere, I still hold them in low regard well over a decade later.

(6)(0)
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Anonymous

‘Without it it’s a lot harder to do’

Well, guess what? It’s hard work. It’s hard work pleasing solicitors, clients, judges, clerks, leaders, juniors, court ushers, BTEs and everyone else. Get used to it.

(2)(2)
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Anonymous

I accept that this is similar to going to court and having no flipping clue what is going on. Presumably by this point however, you have done your 1st six, been given some instruction/support from chambers, so you can figure the rest out.

Where it is not the same is the following:
1) Where for the interview you have no idea what is expected of you (because there’s no guidelines to go on)
2) You also don’t know, deep down, what the particular interviewing panel is going for, because guess what, you’re not a mind reader!

Some sets are good at making clear who they are and what they want. Many others are not. (And before you say it, no, doing a mini won’t solve that problem sometimes!) More importantly, what a chambers want AND what the person interviewing you wants, is not always the same thing. This is aside from the fact that (based on psychological studies of interviewing and things like body language) people don’t know what candidate they actually prefer until the person walks through the door. There are many other factors that go into pupillage interviews but my point here is made.

This is not to disrespect those who take the time to interview candidates – they do a tough job, and we are all grateful for it. However, the idea that “it was always like this” or “it’s hard, suck it up” is exactly the kind of silly response that should have no place at the bar. The approach should be, “we’re doing our best, bear with us, but when we can take 5mins to improve the way things are done, we’ll do that.”

In other words, in the time it took you to write your post, you could have written feedback for a candidate 😀

(9)(2)
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Anonymous

Not sure of the circumstances of 3PB. However, most Chambers make it clear at what point they are willing to provide feedback. I presume the student would have known about this, or could have found out.

If they do not provide feedback at the stage the student was rejected, there is obviously nothing the student can do or say to compel Chambers to do so (noting, obviously Chambers are under no duty to provide feedback anyway). Therefore, asking 3PB to do something for you, which they have not said they would do, surely it is not bad practice to ask for a standard fee, which is charged by everyone else in similar circumstances.

Obviously, the pupillage application process is brutal for all involved, particularly those applying. However, there are other steps students can take to try and give themselves the best chance they have in securing pupillage. Go to your Inn, law school, friends, careers advisers, legal contacts for feedback and interview practise.

Further, I cannot see how an FOI request would necessarily give the student the feedback they are seeking. It certainly won’t be accurate and relevant.

(3)(1)
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Anonymous

FYI: KK/LC

Under section 18(1) of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 it is a criminal offence for any person, without the prior consent in writing of the Bank of England, to reproduce on any substance whatsoever, and whether or not on the correct scale, any Bank of England banknote or any part of a Bank of England banknote. The Bank of England also owns the copyright in its banknotes.

(14)(1)
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Anonymous

I think the point of this article is, perhaps, that forcing a SAR for a basic and reasonable request of interview feedback is needlessly ultra formal.

It’s also not what the SAR process was originally supposed to be for. SARS are for getting long term records from banks , councils etc…. not interview feedback.

It’s an inappropriate process.

(5)(1)
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Anonymous

It is a misuse of process. I understand the pupillage application process is very stressful and students can make irrational decisions, but the careers advisors should have advised against it rather than actively suggest it.

Most people wouldn’t even think of SAR for pupillage interview feedback. This kid looks like she was egged on by those who should have known better.

(3)(0)
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Anonymous

It’s just not cricket, I suppose?

At the end of the day, feedback after a face to face interview is the norm. If 3PB and other sets want to shortcut that, then they should be prepared for the administrative burden that will come from disgruntled candidates like this one.

(0)(1)
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zan

Surely the time spent sending the email/letter requesting the tenner and then organising the feedback to be sent would not cover lost costs for time and resources? Bearing in mind, if I instructed a lawyer to read a side of A4, my tenner would be used up after, ‘Dear Mr Time is Money, Please rea…’ Law firms are not charities by any stretch of the imagination that is for sure.

(0)(0)
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Anonymous

Not to mention the redactions necessary to protect confidentiality of other people. Subject Access Requests are actually a huge administrative burden. £10 is a very proportionate fee for a Subject Access Request.

Whether chambers should have just offered feedback, saving all this hassle, is another matter.

(6)(0)
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zan

Hello loser from 3PB (well you must be if the other guy must be a loser from Mansfield) Do you know what a fallacious argument is? No offence meant but people are entitled to post their hopefully honest opinions, it makes for interesting reading, without being called losers for it. In any event, would Mansfield even want you? …..see what I mean, such posts make for a revolving bore fest.

(0)(3)
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The Rutheless One

well said Zan, they are all the same, I think the Mansfield1GIS boys like to buffin their small muffins and the 3PB boys like burping their little worms!

(0)(2)
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zan

I don’t know the guy and have made my point from an independent position. As a lowly GDL student I found his post interesting gossip. I suppose I see your point that he shouldn’t have named someone in that manner.

(1)(0)
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Anonymous

Not just not nice, puerile and facile. We’re all independent practitioners and, providing that we’re successful in applying to other chambers, we can practise where we fancy.

(0)(0)
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Feedback for 3PB on their performance.

3PB have a bit of a duff reputation. Their penchant for actively poaching barristers from sets going through rocky times does, in my mind, conjure up imagery of vultures picking at carcasses.

(4)(2)
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Genitals of Grays Inn Sqaure

There is nothing special about 3PB barristers, the barristers who left 1 Gray’s Inn Square were not exactly of star quality. Only a junk set like 3PB would take them. I ask them to name one big case these traitorous rubble have ever won?

(2)(1)
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zan

I should be revising frustration, but checking this thread is so much more interesting!

It’s all your fault sir, they didn’t go of their own free will. Sounds like you dragged them kicking and screaming lol.

(0)(0)
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Anonymous

All you clever dicks hiding behind the technicalities of the law ought to be ashamed – it doesn’t disguise the fact that 3PB’s conduct was morally reprehensible.

(2)(3)
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Anonymous

Lol @ at all these butt hurt Mansfield 1GIS plebs.

Maybe if you spent more time doing fee earning work and less trolling on the internet, 3PB would have been willing to take you in.

(2)(0)
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Bolshevik Buddha

3PB tried their utmost to lure me from Mansfield1GIS, but I refused. 3PB in my opinion are nothing more than a collection of failing barristers enticed from failing sets. As for all these people hurling insults at Mansfield1GIS, some day you will find your true self, you will be disappointed. 3PB started at the bottom and it’s been downhill every since.

(1)(1)
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Avoiding liabilities

Listen Bolshevik Buddha, I thought you of all people would appreciate excellence! I have been saved by the wolf and whilst yes his black book is on the thin side, at least he has a book

(0)(0)
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zan

Is this profession just full of backstabbers? I don’t know who has the upper hand morally here as I don’t know the story, but I do think that leaving when the going gets tough is pretty disloyal. If indeed that is what has happened lol. The captain shouldn’t abandon ship.
Anyway, the good guys know who they are, so to them I say don’t roll in the mud with the pigs.

(0)(0)
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Anonymous

Self employed barristers will want to be based at a set that best caters to their needs. It appears the chaps who left 1GIS only did so after their suggestions for reform were not taken seriously, leaving them little choice.

Sets break up and merge all the time. No biggie.

(1)(0)
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Barking Maddog

it is not about backstabbing. the barristers who left 1GIS to go to 3PB weren’t exactly stars. In my opinion they were pretty poor barristers who couldn’t hack it at 1GIS because they had no practices. In any event Mansfield1GIS revenue is on the up and I hear that 3PB are struggling. So who is having the last laugh!

(0)(0)
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Big wild wildish

If I had goten supported by the fearless immigration team I would have stayed, I’m a born winner and money maker ask my silks, and my tiddlers. Who’s having the last laugh now ruthless?

(0)(0)
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Sue r pipe

Hahaha all you barristers slandering each other like the animals you are on the comment section of a fucking website you’re all a disgrace to you’re profession, to stupid to know to law on slander ha!! I hope you all get prosecuted you thick twats.

(1)(1)
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Anonymous

1. *your profession
2. *too stupid
3. *the law
4. you can’t be prosecuted for slander

Maybe think twice before calling others “thick twats”?

(1)(0)
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Sue r pipe

This is fun for you is it you stupid tosser?? Ahaha,, pathetic you belong in the law alright, don’t know arse from elbow just a failed lawyer ah ? Couldn’t get pupillage or tc? Wanker

(0)(2)
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Sue r pipe

If any body else made these allegations they would be before and officer of the court in no time , that’s just it its one law for barrister and solictor an one for the regular man fighting for justice.

(0)(1)
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Genial Genitals of Grays Inn Square

Sue r pipe, I know who you are, you are a barrister at 3PB.3PB must be going down, they trying to raise funds from pupillage applicants! how very sad. To all aspiring pupils, please apply to Mansfield1GIS, a proper set.We are well known for giving our pupils treats, like giving finger sandwiches in the park after court and great advocacy skills.

If this applicant was a pupil at 1 Gray’s Inn Square, we would treat her like a queen. Treat her like a queen and she will treat you like a king, treat her like a game and she will show you how it is played!

(2)(2)
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Anonymous

I don’t know if the above exchange is a p*ss take or a genuine mudslinging match, but if it’s the latter, I echo Sue’s comments – you’re members of (or affiliated with) one of the most respected professions there is, and this comment section is embarrassing.

(0)(1)
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Anonymous

When Alex gets back to work on Tuesday, the comments on this piece are either going to be deleted in 11 seconds, or they’re going to provide the material for a week of stories…

(1)(0)
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Anonymous

These exchanges are amusing. I am a solicitor and I have spoken to the clerks of 3PB in the last few weeks and I was intending to instruct 3PB on a number of matters. after reading this, I have decided not to instruct them. As a neutral, I have to say 1GIS are definitely winning the match on here so far!

(1)(1)
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zan

I apologise in advance but can someone answer this q. No more q’s to follow I promise lol.
If obligations under a contract are divisible/severable then the contract itself is not severable, but just the obligations under the contract. Is this correct? The lecturer keeps saying that where a contract is severable, it consists of separate contracts -How does that make sense, or should I just give up now lol.

(1)(3)
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ICO

They have basically charged the admin fee allowed by way of the DPA etc for data subject access requests. This is fine if this is what the candidate was asking for. She wasn’t. She was asking for rhyme or reason for the nepotistic process we all know and oddly accept.

(0)(1)
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zan

I find it quite unbelievable when people are genuinely shocked if they get a rejection. It’s as though they actually believe they are the ‘best’ candidate and there has been some kind of injustice. There are a bunch of candidates on the right side of the bell curve who would probably be as good or maybe would turn out to be better than the chosen few, but that’s life. Why be a pain in the arse asking for such requests…move on. Self-belief is essential but not to the point of being delusional lol

(1)(0)
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Anonymous

The key is deciding when to move on. Some opt for a career at the Bar in a passing fancy – for others, it’s an ambition they’ve held onto tightly for years.

(0)(0)
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Backdoor Charlie

Everyone knows that many barristers have applied to 3PB from Mansfield1GIS, some who are current members of their MC. One particular barrister who touts himself as a specialist “employment” barrister with a redundant practice has constantly tried to get into 3PB. One of their clerks was begging to get into 3PB. They were shown the backdoor by 3PB!

(0)(0)
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nocaan do

I’m outraged by your reference to unethical practices, I caan assure you that proper front door procedures are always followed at 3pb

(0)(0)
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snowball

oh this is a great little bit of bickering. Mansfield is a god but IGIS is not Tooks.

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)
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I am not the barrister you are looking for

Interviews conducted by chambers are extremely time-intensive and involve independent practitioners giving up their time to sift, interview and re-interview candidates. They do not get paid and in fact give up billable time to do this.
Any large set gets a lot of enquiries and will try to interview a sizeable number of candidates.
Our set (I’m not in 3PB) has a modest number of requests for feedback but if they became sizeable, its a huge administrative task. Unfortunately, a lot of the request for feedback become argumentative very quickly (“I can’t believe you didn’t consider I had good inter-personal skills, all my friends love me…”) and therefore chambers become ever more reluctant to give feedback as a matter of routine to pupillage interviews
That said, it is clear from the story that 3PB did not charge anyone anything for feedback.
The interviewee says they have had 100 interviews and always ask for feedback.
How about not doing that?
If you’ve not worked out the issues after 100 tries with multiple feedback replies, maybe the problems lies not with the chambers?

(1)(1)
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Back door tenant

The reality is that commercially driven sets don’t have time for feedback. Not sure why you’re attacking the person who sought feedback though given your priveliged position

(0)(0)
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