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

Avatar photo

By Katie King on

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.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek’s careers events, sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub here.