Bristol chambers axes pupillage place for next year — after wannabes had applied

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By Judge John Hack on

Queen Square set’s application required a week’s worth of toil — and then the pupillage was cancelled


A Bristol-based barristers’ chambers has pulled the plug at the last minute on its 2015 pupillage programme, infuriating wannabe barristers who submitted lengthy applications last spring.

Legal Cheek has learnt that Queen Square Chambers — which specialises in Chancery, commercial, criminal, employment, regulatory, personal injury and clinical negligence — recently alerted applicants that it was binning the offer for about a year.

One applicant expressed intense frustration, not least as the student was local to the area and was keen to find a Bristol place. In addition, said the applicant, the chambers required a significant investment of time in the application.

“Each application takes at least every evening for a week,” the disappointed pupillage-hunter told Legal Cheek. “Then it has to go off to be proof read, usually by the careers service at my inn. I also undertook a mini-pupillage, which was a week of my time, unpaid.”

Applications were required by late April for a pupillage that was scheduled to begin this coming January.

Signs of trouble first arose when the chambers postponed its selection process until October. Then, at the end of last month — no more than six weeks before the scheduled start date — Queen Square called off the potential deal.

According to the shunned applicant, the chambers wrote:

“Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, we will not be offering any pupillages to start in January 2015. We apologise for the understandable inconvenience and frustration this will cause; please rest assured that this was not a decision that was taken lightly.”

The chambers went on to say that it intended to recruit pupils for an October 2015 start, kicking off its application process afresh in the new year.

This is not the first time chambers have hit applicants with a last-minute deferral of possible pupillage places — indeed, the Bristol law student community is rife with rumours that at least one other local set has behaved similarly to Queen Square.

For its part, Queen Square, which describes itself as a “forward thinking and dynamic set of barristers’ chambers”, has declined to issue a statement, with head of chambers Christopher Taylor not responding to requests for comment.