Top London commercial set cancels pupillage recruitment round due to COVID-19 outbreak

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Henderson Chambers says it cannot be confident video interviews will fairly reflect aspiring barristers abilities

Henderson Chambers has cancelled it pupillage recruitment programme for this year as a result of the extraordinary circumstances presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

The leading London commercial set confirmed all members of chambers were now working from home in line with government guidance and interviews would therefore need to be conducted by three or four-way video conferences.

“In view of increasing pressures on telephone and video conferencing facilities and their capacity”, the chambers said, “we simply cannot be confident that interviews conducted this way would be a fair reflection of candidates’ abilities”.

In light of this, Henderson confirmed it was with “much regret” it had taken the difficult decision to withdraw from 2021-2022 recruitment cycle.

It confirmed it will restart its pupillage campaign for 2022-2023 in November 2020.

Legal Cheek’s Chambers Most List shows the Temple-based set recruits two pupils each year on awards of £70,000, and accepts applications exclusively through the Gateway.

The 2020 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

Today’s statement added:

“As ever, we remain committed to supporting and encouraging the careers of aspiring barristers. Candidates who had been selected for interview with us have been notified and offered support. We will also be running an online advice clinic for anybody concerned about their career in the current circumstances, via our Twitter feed.”

In the wake of the pandemic, chambers now face a difficult balancing act between honouring pupillage interview offers and adhering to ever stricter government advice. Legal Cheek understands a number of the country’s leading sets are now assessing their options, with further suspensions and cancelations likely in the coming weeks.

To further complicate matters, the Bar Standards Board confirmed earlier this week that all centralised assessments on the Bar Professional Training Course (civil litigation, criminal litigation and professional ethics) had been postponed until at least August 2020. This in turn has raised concerns among bar hopefuls that they may not be able to honour pupillage start dates.

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