Life as a Pupil

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A Year in Pupillage

Pupils are allocated four supervisors in the course of their 12 month pupillage. This ensures that each pupil sees a variety of work of differing levels of complexity within Chambers and broadens their exposure to different working styles.

Keating Chambers is committed to providing all of its pupils with comprehensive training in the core skills required for practice in our field. We have been shortlisted as “Best Chambers for Training” by Legal Cheek following their 2021 pupil survey. Pupils are encouraged to prepare drafts of pleadings, advices, letters and other documents that their supervisor or other members are instructed to prepare, as well as preparing skeleton arguments for hearings. They also attend conferences with clients, and hearings in court, arbitrations, adjudications and mediations. In the first three months, the pupil will work almost exclusively for their pupil supervisor. Thereafter, the pupil will do work both for their supervisors and for other members of Chambers.

We place a great deal of emphasis on the quality of our advocacy. We organise a series of assessed exercises in which our pupils compete against each other in mock court hearings based on real cases to ensure that our pupils are fully prepared for practice as specialist advocates. In the second six months, we also get our pupils into court as much as possible.

Where possible, we arrange an exchange week with a firm of solicitors so that pupils can see how a typical construction department operates. We also encourage our pupils to take part in the TCC marshalling scheme.

Five of our junior tenants have provided written accounts of their experience of pupillage and the beginning of their careers as barristers at Keating, which can be found in the links below:

Wellbeing and Support

It is a strong ethic of Keating Chambers and its members to offer a wide network of support from pupillage through to tenancy and thereafter. All pupils have a nominated junior member of Chambers to act as their “mentor” who can offer moral and practical support to them during pupillage. Pupils can talk confidentially to their mentor about any problems they may have. A mentoring scheme also continues in the first years of tenancy. This is in addition to regular structured feedback from pupil supervisors and a pupillage review at the end of the first six months.

Our pupil supervisors are very aware of the importance of putting careful thought and discussion into how work can be improved and put great emphasis on their role in the training and development of their pupil. Individual welfare is also of utmost importance, and we expect pupils to take holiday during the year of pupillage.

Our aim is for pupils to become fully integrated into life at Chambers from the outset and they are therefore invariably involved in Chambers’ social and marketing events. We have a Chambers netball team that plays in a local league every fortnight and a social football team. Both teams compete in friendly matches with clients on occasion. We also regularly enter a Chambers Band at LawRocks! and participate in other charitable events/competitions. Further information can be found on our CSR page.

We have been awarded a Certificate of Recognition from the Bar Council for our wellbeing programme.

Applications for Tenancy

The experience of pupillage at Keating Chambers is a rewarding, challenging and enjoyable one, and as such our pupils invariably want to apply for tenancy. Pupils applying for tenancy are assessed against the Selection Criteria. Each of the pupil’s supervisors provides a report to the Tenancy Committee, as do each of the members of chambers for whom work has been done and the judge of each of the advocacy exercises. The Tenancy Committee then provides a report to Chambers with a recommendation as to whether each pupil should be offered a tenancy. The final decision is then made in a Chambers’ meeting by a vote of all the members, which takes place as early in July as possible. It is very unusual for the Tenancy Committee’s recommendation to be rejected.

Our retention rate of pupils to tenants is high and we have retained 7 pupils in the last 3 years (88%). We recruit our pupils on the basis that they will be of sufficiently high quality to become tenants in Chambers.

However, should you be unsuccessful, we will assist our pupils (as far as possible) in making other applications for tenancy or pupillage, or in choosing alternative career paths. Experience has shown that, due to our position as a leading set, pupillage with Keating Chambers is a marketable commodity. Our former pupils have secured tenancies or further pupillages in other reputable sets of chambers or have secured positions in leading law firms and continue their relationship with Chambers as instructing clients.