(1) Application form
Keating Chambers uses the Pupillage Gateway process to invite applications for pupillage.
In order to ensure that the marking of application forms is carried out in a manner which is as fair and transparent as possible, Keating adopts the following approach:
- Applications are anonymised prior to assessment by redacting the candidates’ names.
- No monitoring data (gender, ethnic background, etc) is available to assessors.
- The “institution” fields on each application form for both secondary and tertiary education are redacted.
How will my application form be marked?
The Mark Scheme against each of the Selection Criteria for the application form, and specific guidance both on the sort of evidence you might deploy to show us that you meet the criteria and to answer any further questions you may have, is available as a download here: Application Form Mark Scheme. We reviewed this mark scheme for the 2023 application round and made some small revisions including to the definitions of working in teams and oral advocacy.
We emphasise that Chambers puts no limitation on the type of experiences and evidence which a candidate may rely on to demonstrate each of the criteria. The examples are given as guidance only and are not intended to be prescriptive.
When assessing the strength of your application, the assessors will be influenced by the number and quality of the examples of experience and evidence given and, in particular, the degree to which you have explained or demonstrated how those examples show that you meet the relevant criterion.
The applications are assessed by four members of the Pupillage Committee. At least one will be a KC and at least one will be a woman. Following a calibration process to ensure marking consistency, each assessor individually marks one quarter of the remaining total number of applications not already marked as part of the calibration process against the Selection Criteria and in accordance with the Mark Scheme. Each application form at the paper sift stage is considered in its entirety (with the necessary redactions) by one assessor, and not split up or divided between various assessors. Following completion of the marking, a further calibration process takes place whereby the final application form from each of the assessor’s allocation is marked by the other three assessors.
The form requires candidates to provide details of academic achievement at school, university, and postgraduate level.
Please include full details of your achievement in terms of the grades achieved at all relevant stages of your academic career (including results of any first, second and third year exams at university).
We recognise that some applicants will not have sat all of their exams at the time of applying, or will not have completed postgraduate study at that stage (e.g. CPE, BVC, Masters). In such circumstances, please include details of predicted grades.
If you do not include details of your achieved grades and (where appropriate) predicted grades, the assessors are not able to award you any marks.
The majority of our applicants are from the UK and sit GCSEs, A-levels/Highers, and the IB. We welcome applicants from all countries and from all educational backgrounds. However, in order to assist the assessors, and to maximise your chances in the application process, where you have not sat GCSEs, A-levels/Highers or the IB, please indicate how your grades compare to those qualifications (e.g. “I achieved an overall score of 74% which is equivalent to 3 As at A-level”).
What about the Keating-specific questions on the application form?
The Pupillage Gateway process allows chambers to include “bespoke” questions in addition to the standard questions and information to be provided.
As you will have seen on the Gateway, our questions are directed specifically at our Selection Criteria. When you are giving your answers, please have the Selection Criteria in mind. The answers to the questions are marked as set out in the Mark Scheme.
We ask specific questions as regards your ability to work in teams, and your experience and achievements in written and oral advocacy. Please do not simply list out what you have done in relation to these questions. Whilst you should certainly identify the experience and achievements in question, assessors will be assisted by explanation as to how those experiences/achievements satisfy the criteria and sub-criteria in question. Assessors will be influenced by the number and quality of the examples of experience and evidence given and, in particular, the degree to which you have explained or demonstrated how those examples show that you meet the relevant criterion.
You should enter the details of proposed referees in the application form at the time of submission of the application, but referees may only be called upon later in the process at 2nd round interview (April).
How do you select the candidates who go through to the written case study round?
A minimum of the top 65 and a maximum of the top 70 candidates will be invited to take part in the next stage of the application process, the written case study.
The selection of the top 70 is by reference to the total application form marks awarded for each candidate, subject to:
- Any candidate who has previously completed the written case study and was rejected by Keating Chambers (whether after the written case study or after first or second round interview) will be removed, unless they can show a material change in their application as stated in the “Extenuating Circumstances” box on the application form.
- Where an assessor has flagged a candidate for review on the basis of the information in the “Extenuating Circumstances” box on the application form.
- Application of the contextualised recruitment system.
For more information on each of these, see further below.
Those who have not been selected for the written case study round shall be informed promptly. Unfortunately, due to the number of applications we receive, we cannot give reasons for rejection or feedback on individual applications. Candidates will be informed of our policy regarding second or subsequent applications (i.e. that it is necessary to show a material change of circumstances for your application to be considered again).
What about the “Extenuating Circumstances” box on the application form?
Please do complete this box either if there any extenuating circumstances you wish to rely on, including any disability. We want to assure you that we are aware that sometimes a candidate has had an illness, or a difficult life event, or other situation, which can affect their application. We do not regard such problems as detracting from your application. Many of us in Chambers have also had such experiences.
When you are setting out your extenuating circumstances, please also explain, by reference to the mark scheme, (i) which of the criteria (i.e. Intellectual Ability, Ability to work in teams, Written advocacy, and Oral advocacy) you consider have been impacted by your extenuating circumstances and/or disability, and (ii) why this is the case, or otherwise why in general terms you consider that it has impacted your ability to meet the criteria (e.g. “I gave birth to a child during my Bar School year, which meant that I was unable to participate in schemes which I would otherwise have liked to, including FRU”).
When marking your form, the assessor will flag your form for later review if it is appropriate to do so having regard to the material provided. After the everyone’s marks have been collected, the assessors and the Head of the Pupillage Committee will consider the information, and if appropriate and if your marks are within 10% of the lowest mark of the top 70 candidates, you will be included in the cohort of candidates who go through to the written case study round.
Any candidates included in the cohort for the written case study by reason of extenuating circumstances and/or a disability will be in addition to the original top 70 and no candidate in the original top 70 will be replaced or excluded.
What is a “material change in circumstances” for the purpose of a second (or subsequent) application to Chambers?
If you are applying to us again following a previous rejection, it is necessary for you to demonstrate a material change in circumstances to justify a second or subsequent consideration of your application.
The material change could be a wide range of matters, from undertaking additional academic qualifications, to experience gained in a job (not necessarily a legal job) or as part of voluntary work, or as part of additional advocacy experience (not necessarily legal advocacy experience). The key matter you must explain is (a) how the change relates to an improvement in the skills we are looking for, as set out in our Selection Criteria and (b) the nature of the change. Simply having undertaken (for example) a further qualification will not be enough to demonstrate a material change in circumstances: you must explain to us how your skills have improved.
Please use the “Extenuating Circumstances” box on the application form to provide this information, and make clear that you are providing information as to a material change in circumstances.
Please note that Chambers checks all applications in order to ascertain if a previous application has been made and rejected. If you have not provided any information as to a material change in circumstances at all, your application will be rejected at that stage without further consideration.
What is contextualised recruitment and how do you use it?
Keating uses a system called the RARE Contextual Recruitment System. This is a way of identifying candidates who have over achieved in the light of their wider personal circumstances, or whose achievements should be seen in the light of specific challenges they have faced.
In order to take advantage of the RARE system, after applying on the Gateway, applicants are also asked to give their consent to share their candidate number, name, email address, postcode, examination grades, education history, information provided in the section titled “contextual information” and the fact that they have applied to Keating Chambers.
Following completion of the marking process, one person from the Pupillage Committee will consider those candidates who have given their consent by reference to their RARE scores and carry out the following actions:
- Any candidate with a RARE PI score of 30 or above whose marks are within 10% of the lowest mark of the original top 70 candidates will be included in the cohort of candidates carrying out the written case study.
- A review of candidates not in the original top 70 candidates will be carried out to see if they have any RARE flags. In appropriate circumstances, and in accordance with pre-established rules, a candidate who is not in the original top 70 candidates but has RARE flags may be included in the cohort of candidates carrying out the written case study.
Any candidates included in the cohort for the written case study will be in addition to the original top 70 and no candidate in the original top 70 will be replaced or excluded.
The information as to candidates’ RARE scores and/or flags and which candidates have been included in the cohort carrying out the written case study under paragraph will not be shared with anyone else on the Pupillage Committee, save only that flag information will be available for the purpose of selection for second interview.