5 Essex Court invites wannabe barristers to pupillage interview by ‘mistake’

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Exclusive: Technical glitch leaves bar hopefuls “gutted”


A number of wannabe barristers have been left disappointed after London’s 5 Essex Court chambers invited them to attend pupillage interviews by “mistake”.

Renowned for its work within police law, 5 Essex Court currently offers two pupillage positions annually via the ‘Gateway’ with a financial award of £25,000 each.

Unfortunately, due to a “glitch”, a number of candidates who had applied to the set were incorrectly informed that they had been invited for an interview.

5 Essex Court — which receives in excess of 300 pupillage applications each season — sent out an initial email (pictured below) to a number of aspiring barristers on Monday evening, confirming that they were one of the lucky 31 selected for interview.


Fast forward two hours and ‘successful’ candidates received a second email, this time explaining that due to a technical “glitch” they had been invited by mistake. Lawkward.


To add insult to injury, a third email was fired off to candidates — the one they should have received in the first place — confirming that they definitely did not have an interview.


One student, who was affected by the email cock-up, told Legal Cheek:

I just find it extremely disappointing that such a huge chambers can make such a poor error. Understandably I was absolutely gutted when I got the follow up emails, and it’s actually deterred me from applying again next year.

5 Essex Court did not respond to Legal Cheek’s request for comment.



4 Breams Buildings did this last year too.



He/she should be “absolutely gutted” about not being good enough to get an interview, not about a bloody technical error.



Pretty much one and the same though, aren’t they? “I’m disappointed that a car ran over my leg” and “I’m disappointed that my leg is broken” are different sides of the same coin!



Your analogy is pants.

“I’m disappointed I was run over” / “I’m disappointed I was thick enough to walk into the road without looking” would be better.

Yours suffers for a casual link that is totally absent from someone’s disappointment and a technical error c.f. their disappointment in themselves for not being good enough to obtain an offer.



What an arrogant statement! If you are an aspiring barrister work on your empathy – it’s one of the qualities you ought to have.



The majority of chambers are complete dicks when it comes to the application process, so this should come as no surprise.

They are dicks because it’s a buyer’s market.



Actually, it’s a sellers market for the very best candidates. Chambers compete ferociously for those. And since Chambers doesn’t know who the best candidates are until they have interviewed them, they do their best to make a good impression on all candidates – in case any particular candidate is the star they are looking for.

That apart, I agree with you 100%.



To be fair, 5 Essex have a very good reputation for being the complete opposite, and being very nice to applicants.


A dick

Or maybe because when you’re self-employed and are spending time processing hundreds of applications at your own personal cost, you won’t have the same standards of administration as a firm would?



That’s why barristers pay rent…



Things like this happen. PS – nice fiesta in the pic.



This looks like either an inputting error or something else going wrong with the IT system. It’s emotive I know, but why doesn’t Essex Court interview them anyway as a gesture of goodwill? At least they will get some decent practice in interview techniques that way.




Is that you?


Just Anonymous

5 Essex Court is an excellent Chambers, which genuinely cares about pupillage applicants. Consider, for example, the comprehensive pupillage application feedback they publish annually on their website.

Clearly, this is a significant administrative f*** up, and one for which they should be very sorry. And I have no doubt they genuinely are sorry.

But other than an apology, I don’t think there’s anything else they can do. Inviting everyone to interview is impractical and unrealistic.


Scep Tick

Why not? At least those that got the letter. They’d lose a little time, but would get some practice, the disappointed applicant would perhaps get a confidence boost, and, who knows, maybe someone who doesn’t look stellar on paper is a superstar in person.

If it’s happened to every applicant, perhaps that would be impossible. But if it’s happened to a dozen or so, I’d’ve gone ahead regardless.


Just Anonymous

Well even if it’s only a dozen, if it takes say 30 minutes to interview each candidate and then discuss their performance at the end, that’s still another 6 hours you suddenly have to find. That’s not a trivial amount of time.

And, with the best will in the world, the goal here is to find the best candidate, not provide applicants with interview practice.



If a clerical error is enough to deter you from applying ever again, you really should consider whether you have what it takes for this line of work…


Careers advice

Maybe you should reconsider being a professional November Oscar Bravo???






This happened to me! Given that 5 Essex Street are generally very good throughout the process – giving dates of when they’ll get back in advance, nor rejecting by silence and publishing feedback – I wasn’t too upset by it, anyone can make a clerical error, it’s not as though 5EC are habitually rude/disorganised (unlike some other chambers). Obviously disappointing not to get an interview, but that’s my fault – not theirs.



Oh dearie me the poor snowflakes! Imagine the distress of having to realise that an interview invitation was sent by mistake. Go see your GP immediately, you might have PTSD.



Hmm I know someone who did pupillage there a few years ago. At the conclusion the Head of Chambers said sorry we’re not giving you tenancy because you didn’t get 75% of the vote. He replied that he had two thirds of the vote and that was all he needed to become a tenant. And so he became a tenant. Just saying…….



These are the guys who defend bent coppers?



Gopoopen verpoopen!



Polly Glott

And that language is meant to be?


someone who is interviewing there next week

God you lot are a bunch of delicate little flowers.


5 Essex Court reject

I cried and soiled myself after receiving the second email :’-(


The Advocate's Advocate




At least the email, either success or not, is detailed and comprehensive. And shows rspect for the efforts of the candidate. Compare with sets that still persist in rejection by silence. As email is SO expensive, and as the Gateway system makes it very easy to download all candidates email addresses, this is naturally understandable.



Better than ‘accidentally’ being offered pupillage only to be told the email was sent in error. Trust me…


Smugg of Counsel

Happened to me too, thought the pain was soon numbed by getting pupillage with that Chambers’ biggest rival!


The Advocate's Advocate

How many people were victims of this “glitch”? There were around 300 applications. If all 300 got an invitation, then interviewing them all would simply not be feasible. However, if someone accidentally used the ‘short list’ instead of the ‘short short list’, then it may well have been feasible to provide the victims of the “glitch” with an interview for being stuffed around. There is a certain irony in lawyers trying to avoid the consequences of their own actions…


Victor Timothy

I’m a Victim!



It’s more ironic that barristers generally get so pompous and unforgiving about even insignificant errors in applications. So not only is that a standard they fall below in the course of practice – Advices, skeletons and pleadings often have mistakes in them – but they fuck things up during recruitment!



crap set of chambers anyway…why bother with them?



rubbish set of chambers anyway…why bother with them?


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