London chambers offers aspiring barristers a flavour of life at the bar through new pupillage podcast

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Top tips and insights from 4 New Square tenants

A London chambers is hoping to provide prospective pupil barristers with insights into the commercial bar through a new podcast.

The podcast, ‘Analysis: Commercial dispute resolution and life at the bar’, is a series produced by top-tier commercial set 4 New Square.

It is split into two instalments, life at the bar and analysis on recent commercial law developments, and seeks to demystify the profession with the help of some of its recent pupils, junior tenants, established senior-juniors and silks. New episodes are released every two weeks.

The chambers’ chief exec and senior clerk, Lizzy Stewart, and head of the pupillage committee, Miles Harris, come together for one episode of the five ‘life at the bar’ episodes available so far, to talk application tips and the qualities they look for in future pupils.

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We hear from new tenants Melody Ihuoma and Seohyung Kim in another episode, who share their respective paths to the bar and experiences during the 12-month training period. Pupillage is often referred to as a ‘year-long job interview’, but Oxford and Harvard grad Kim found it “a pleasant surprise”. She continues:

“I think once you get stuck into it you will forget that it’s an interview but in terms of whether that’s any more arduous, I’d say it’s not that different from going through a two-year training contract in order to become a solicitor… Pupillage is a time of assessment but also learning and growth. [It’s] an opportunity to learn from successful practitioners who are devoting their time to go through your work line by line and discuss with you how it can be improved and how it could better serve its purpose. I think that’s a real privilege at this stage of your legal training and career.”

This isn’t the first time a London set has produced a podcast. Earlier this year civil law specialist 5 Essex Court launched ‘The Pupillage Podcast’, featuring guest speakers that provide budding barristers with insights into the pupillage process.

You can listen to 4 New Square’s podcast on Apple Podcasts, Android and Google Podcasts or via the chambers’ website.

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The fact the podcast is being hosted in part by an Oxford and Harvard grad tenant already tells you a lot about what you need at the commercial bar, and what this particular chambers seeks in a candidate.



Looking at the CVs of existing pupils or junior tennants is always sensible. In this case all 4 pupils have 1sts. 3 out of 4 from Oxbridge. The only non-oxbridge pupil has a 1st and PHD. All have a ton of prizes and scholarships. Is this you? If it isn’t then it isn’t a set you should be targeting.


Future Bar

Well said. I’m non-Oxbridge, but prospective pupils need to know the truth. The commercial/public /chancery bar is not for slouches, and you need to be the best. That means an Oxbridge first, or in exceptional circumstances a non-Oxbridge first with other exceptional achievements. As you mentioned, the only current non-Oxbridge pupil at this chambers went to a good law school, got a first, and then got a PhD in insolvency law under a world leading expert. He also won a lot of prizes. He is exceptional. It is possible to make it to these sorts of chambers, but you need to have outstanding credentials if you are not an Oxbridge first, and the easiest way to do this is often via a distinction on the BCL and then an LLM from the US with scholarship and/or experience at a top solicitors firm with expertise in a relevant area. So ignore the idiots who say Oxbridge only and call everyone else second rate, but be realistic and if you are at a redbrick/russell group and want to make it to a top chambers, you need to finish near the top of your year and get a few other outstanding badges.


Training Contract 4lyfe

I swear whenever I read discussions related to chambers / barristers I feel like I’m in my first day of law school; I understand very little and most of the discussion goes over my head.

Also litigation is a smelly word. And judges suck.


John Curran

What would this ‘civil set who do mostly prof neg work for insurers’ need to do to reposition itself as commercial set? How exactly is a commercial set defined – at the edges, is it not a bit subjective?


Former Bazza

Commercial sets can be broadly defined as those sets that deal with contractual disputes as between commercial / corporate organisations much of it cross border in appearance .

Miss Smith suing her solicitor for under settling her PI claim , where the insurer indemnifies the negligent solicitor is not commercial work.
Ditto a claim against a developer for the negligent construction of a office block isn’t commercial work . 4NS is a very good civil common law set with an excellent reputation for prof neg work


John Curran

Thanks for your reply. Dunno why LC deleted my entirely innocuous comment.


Former Bazza

LC deleting valid and proper comments for no reason whatsoever, just shows how clueless they are about the profession.



Like everyone at the legal tribunal charities, none of the staff are qualified solicitors or barristers.



The reason is we are bored of your obsessive moaning about legal charities and your efforts to hijack threads with no relevance to the matter. Shuttle off to somewhere where the readers care.



Are you triggered by not yourself being a barrister or solicitor?



It looks like they delete anything that goes against the huge sums chambers spend on marketing



Fun idea –

Set up a podcast studio that also records videos for YouTube. Bill it as an ‘Advocacy Masterclass’

Invite any barristers self-styling as ‘future stars of the Bar’ and the more ‘vivacious’ members of chambers’ management.

Ask awkward interview questions, but particularly about racial diversity in the profession, old tweets and anything else viewers submit in.

Record the probably funniest walk outs and temper tantrums by grown adults ever put to screen.

Watch on repeat and laugh.


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