COVID-19: Mini-pupillages move online

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By Aishah Hussain on

Much like the virtual vacation schemes now being offered by corporate law firms

Mini-pupillage at a number of chambers has moved online.

This comes after we reported that some sets have shelved their schemes until further notice due to coronavirus.

4 Pump Court opened its (virtual) doors to 16 mini-pupils for one day this month. The group took part in two discussions featuring the chambers’ most junior tenant, its joint head of chambers, joint head of pupillage and a member of its clerking team.

In between, the mini-pupils were each paired with a junior member of chambers: first for a chat about chambers and their career aspirations; and then for an exercise on remote advocacy. The virtual format enabled one mini-pupil to tune in from as far as New Zealand to participate in the paired sessions earlier in the week at a more convenient time.

4 Pump Court hopes to resume in-person minis from the autumn. The barrister ‘supervisors’ felt the format allowed for more focused discussion during the remote one-to-one sessions compared to a traditional mini-pupillage. It also exposed the mini-pupils to more members of chambers at a wider range of seniorities, they found.

Landmark Chambers will similarly welcome mini-pupils to its set, albeit online. The planning and environmental law specialist is piloting a virtual mini-pupillage scheme this week for some of the applicants from its last application round.

Over the course of two days mini-pupils will be supervised and complete work with feedback provided over Skype. Throughout these days the pupillage committee will check in with mini-pupils to answer any questions they might have and to find out more about life as a pupil or baby junior. To conclude the week, the mini-pupils will come together for a virtual coffee and webinars delivered by senior members from chambers.

Falcon Chambers held a virtual mini-pupillage via Zoom last month. Four members of chambers of varying levels of seniority and a senior member from its clerking team joined 37 mini-pupils for a series of talks. The talks provided “a taster of life at the bar and in chambers” and “the opportunity to have their most pressing questions answered”. They aimed to replicate what would ordinarily be given to mini-pupils over the course of their time in chambers.

A spokesperson from the set, which specialises in property law, said “we are already planning more online sessions, so watch this space!”

Secure your place: The Legal Cheek Virtual Pupillage Fairs 2020

A mini-pupillage is a work experience placement for budding barristers to experience life in chambers. During a placement, which typically last from around a few days to a week and tend to align with court terms, they might attend court, assist with drafting or sit in on conferences with clients.

Given the current public health pandemic and the government’s advice to socially distance ourselves as well as work from home where possible, it’s understandable that some chambers have had to put their work experience programmes on hold or come up with new ways to inspire their future pupil barristers — much like the virtual vacation schemes now being offered by corporate law firms.

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