Written case study

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The written case study is a key part of our pupillage assessment process because it: (a) is typical of a real piece of work which a barrister in chambers would regularly be asked to do, (b) provides a level playing field for candidates, and (c) is entirely anonymised when marked.  We use it both in selecting candidates to go through to First Interview, and again when selecting for pupillage offers.

The written case study will be in the form of a written opinion on a real or lightly fictionalised set of papers.  The focus will be on a basic principle of contract or tort law.  You will be asked to advise your client on the merits of their case on certain specific points.  The aim of the written case study is to assess your skills and ability by reference to the Selection Criteria, i.e. how you think, not your knowledge of the law or experience of opinion writing.  The materials provided and the Mark Scheme are intended to ensure that candidates who have not completed the Bar Course or are still studying the GDL, for example, are not at a disadvantage.

To help with this, the candidates invited to participate in the written case study will be provided with a complete instruction pack which will include (a) a template opinion (to show expected structure and formatting), and (b) extracts from the relevant legal textbook.  We actively discourage you from citing too many cases.

The written case study will have a word limit of 1,500 to 2,000 words, depending on which exercise is set each year, and you will be given 10 days (i.e. at least 2 weekends to assist those who are in full-time education or work) to complete it.  On a discretionary basis and subject to logistical constraints, the time for the written case study may be extended whether in individual cases or generally to all candidates.  If you require a reasonable adjustment to be made for any disability or other grounds, please do contact us (contact details will be given in the letter inviting candidates to participate in this round).

It goes without saying that you must keep the papers completely confidential.  If anyone is found to have cheated (for example, obtaining external help), they will be disqualified.

How will the written case study be marked?

The Mark Scheme against each of the applicable Selection Criteria for the written case study, and some additional specific guidance, is available as a download here.

The written case study is marked separately from the application form by different markers. The assessors will be 3 members of the Pupillage Committee. Following a calibration process to ensure marking consistency, each assessor individually marks one third of the remaining total number of opinions not already marked as part of the calibration process against the Selection Criteria and in accordance with the Mark Scheme.

The assessors of the written case study will not have access to the application form, the marks received for the application form or any other information whatsoever (including monitoring data such as gender, ethnic background etc) other than the written case study itself.

How do you select the candidates who go through to the First Interview?

Selection for First Round Interview will be on the basis of the combined marks from the paper sift/application form and the written case study rounds, weighted so that:

  1. The application form is worth 40% of the marks.
  2. The written case study is worth 60% of the marks.

A minimum of the top 25 candidates on the basis of the combined marks will be selected for first interview, subject always to the Pupillage Committee’s discretion to offer a first interview to some or all of the candidates in 26th to 30th place (in order), up to a maximum of the top 30 candidates. The discretion will be exercised where marking at that level is very close or in other similar circumstances.

Those who have not been selected for interview 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 (ie that it is necessary to show a material change of circumstances for your application to be considered again).