Since our foundation in 1990, Doughty Street Chambers has firmly established its reputation as a leading set for civil liberties and human rights law and has also developed a large practice in criminal law.  Long synonymous with the best claimant public law work, we are renowned for having the most “dynamic barristers who forge ahead at the cutting edge of the law” (Chambers and Partners 2012).  Building on its strengths the set has tripled in size, opened offices in Manchester and Bristol and in the last five years had 11 new silks appointed.

In addition to undertaking many innovative and controversial domestic and international human rights cases, we are committed to representing vulnerable clients at all levels. We operate across a wide range of practice areas, including public law and civil liberties, international human rights, crime, media law, clinical negligence and personal injury, prisoners’ rights, police actions, immigration and asylum, social welfare, education, housing, employment, extradition, and mental health. The majority of our work is for claimants in civil cases and defendants in criminal cases.

Chambers also has a specially trained team of barristers who undertake Public Access work within the areas of civil and criminal law. For those undertaking the two main pupillages that we offer, training to become a barrister at Doughty Street will provide the opportunity to experience a broad range of specialist practice areas.  You will work alongside and learn from barristers who are experts in their chosen field, giving you the best possible start to your career at the bar.   To read more about our specialist areas of practice please click here.

Doughty Street Chambers is committed to the promotion of human rights and civil liberties through the law.  The set prides itself in taking a collegial and team-based approach to its work.  It is noted for its intellectual excellence and providing a first-class, fully accountable service to clients.

How is Pupillage Structured?

We offer two general pupillage places per year and when required, a third specialist pupillage. For pupillages starting October 2020, chambers is offering a specialist pupillage in housing and social welfare in which the chosen candidate will train in housing and, to a lesser degree, in linked specialisms such as community care and/or court of protection work.  

Pupillage will last for 12 months and starts in October each year.  The pupillage will be divided into two parts; six months will be spent as a non-practising pupil, and six months will be spent as a practising pupil or ‘on your feet’.  During the first six months you will shadow your supervisor and other members of chambers, conduct research for cases and assist with the preparation of briefs.  You will attend a number of internal and external training sessions.  Once you are ‘on your feet’ you will encounter a steep learning curve as our clerks send you to courts throughout England and Wales to undertake your own caseload and develop your advocacy skills.

For our two general pupillages, during the twelve months of pupillage you will rotate through three placements, each one lasting four months.  You will be allocated a different supervisor for each of these placements and they will be a mix of criminal and civil practitioners to ensure you are exposed to a wide range of experience, gaining a more rounded training.  For the final term we will, where possible allocate a supervisor in the practice area that you have a leaning towards. You will often be matched with a junior criminal practitioner in the last few weeks of non-practising pupillage to ensure you are fully acquainted with the procedures of the Magistrates and Crown Courts.  Prior to each four-month period you will become acquainted with your new proposed supervisor and given the chance to discuss the type of work you would like to be involved in. Throughout the year each pupil will also be assigned to a ‘pupil buddy’. This is a junior member of chambers who is not involved in the assessment process and is there to provide you with pastoral advice and support.

For our specialist housing and social welfare pupillage, your rotation will be two placements of six months each and your supervisors will be housing and social welfare specialists.

For both our general and specialist pupillage you are encouraged to gain experience of a cross- section of work and to experience a range of practising styles.  For our housing and social welfare pupillage that cross-section will concentrate on those areas with adjacencies to that specialism.  Those might include community care, immigration and asylum, court of protection, mental health and/or welfare benefits.

Your supervisor is responsible for introducing you to other members of chambers and once you know your way around you can approach practitioners directly and ask them for work, under the guidance of your supervisor.   Second- six pupils doing our general pupillage will normally have some court work and paperwork of their own.  All second- six pupils will be expected to undertake work in the Magistrates Court and may appear in the Crown Court, County Court, High Court or Privy Council. Those doing our housing and social welfare pupillage will appear predominantly in the County Court and other civil courts. Pupils can expect to be in court 3 - 5 times a week.

When you arrive in Chambers you will be given an induction by the Chief Executive and pupillage administrator, introducing you to chambers’ policies and procedures.  Throughout your pupillage your supervisor will meet with you regularly to discuss allocation of work and the progress of your pupillage.  At the end of the three months your supervisor will conduct a formal assessment of the work you have done.  This will include looking at the feedback of other practitioners, the structure and development of your pupillage and the requirements of the Bar Council checklists.

How is Pupillage Assessed?

Throughout your pupillage, casework and research is normally organised through supervisors (although pupils may approach practitioners directly).  After each piece of work the practitioner must complete an evaluation form.   These forms are held by your supervisor and become part of the final assessment for ‘fixed term tenancy’. Pupil supervisors will write a final report on their pupil and each pupil will also have an advocacy test and an interview as part of the transition to fixed term tenancy.

Fixed Term Tenancy and Full Tenancy

Each pupil has been selected from a considerable pool of applicants; they will have received high quality training, guidance and supervision from a significant number of members of Chambers and should therefore have all the ability and opportunities to succeed.

Upon successful completion of pupillage and the appraisal process, it is expected that you will be offered a Tenancy or Fixed Term Tenancy for 18 months. During which, you will be eligible to apply for tenancy in Chambers. This will not be an advertised vacancy, but an internal progression from one form of tenancy to another. You are not competing against other candidates, but against your own performance to date and demonstration of potential. Selection will depend upon a number of factors, including the standard of performance, the success in beginning the development of a practice and the recruitment needs and support of the relevant practice team(s).

What do we Offer?

The grant paid during the first year's pupillage will be £40,000.00 which will include some element of guaranteed earnings in the second-six practising element of pupillage.  Pupils will receive annual travel cards and appropriate travelling expenses outside London will be reimbursed.  Chambers is committed to selecting the best candidates irrespective of their personal circumstances.  We therefore do not accept unfunded pupils.

Prerequisites for Pupillage

Prior to applying for pupillage all candidates must:

  • Have completed or be scheduled to complete either a law degree or GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law - law conversion course for those who have completed a non-law undergraduate degree); AND
  • Be scheduled to complete, prior to commencement of pupillage, the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) or another England and Wales bar qualification (e.g. Bar Transfer Test).

What are we Looking for in Potential Pupils?

Chambers are looking for intelligent, independent, applied individuals who are interested in our specialist areas of work.  They must be highly motivated, determined, have initiative and of the highest ethical and professional calibre.  They must also be committed to use the law to assist the disadvantaged and support the Chambers commitment to civil liberties, human rights and support for the Legal Aid system.  Ultimately we are looking for pupils who are potential candidates for tenancy. Those applying for our specialist housing and social welfare pupillage must be committed to practicing in that field should they succeed in becoming a tenant in Chambers.

Selection Criteria

When assessing pupillage application forms we score on the basis of two main criteria according to a prescribed points system based on ‘Intellectual Ability’ and ‘Dedication’.

Intellectual Ability
Intellectual Ability is assessed in most cases on academic qualifications supported by research, experience or publications which demonstrate knowledge and use of intellect.  Our minimum degree requirement is a 2(ii) in any subject.

The Dedication category rewards those with demonstrated motivation, commitment and drive, particularly, but not exclusively, in relation to civil liberties and the welfare of others. Individuals with significant achievements or experience in unrelated fields (e.g. playing on a national sports team, winning a national music competition, or being Director of a company) will have these achievements recognised under this heading. However, given Chambers' values, such achievements/experience is not rewarded as highly as those related to our values.

It is not essential to score highly in both categories. A candidate in a professional position may demonstrate high levels of achievement but have had limited time to commit to community or other activities. Similarly a candidate with a 2(ii) may score highly in the other category and be shortlisted for interview.

Specialist housing and social welfare pupillage
Those applying for our specialist housing and social welfare pupillage will additionally be scored on their commitment to practicing in that field.

Mini-Pupillage at Doughty Street Chambers

The selection criteria other sets may have for mini-pupillage can be very different from the selection criteria for pupillage.

In considering applications for pupillage, mini-pupillages whether with chambers or another set are not taken into account.

Our Selection Process

We usually receive about 500 applications. Those applying for our specialist housing and social welfare pupillage cannot also apply for, and will not be considered for, our main pupillages. 

If an application makes it through two paper sifts the candidate will then be invited for a first round interview.  We interview between 20 and 30 candidates in the first round.  After this approximately 10- 12 candidates will be invited for a second interview. Applications for our specialist housing and social welfare pupillage will be considered separately but will follow the same sifting and interview format.

The first round interview will be conducted by a team of two practitioners.  They are scheduled for approximately 15-20 minutes and focus on a hypothetical question which is given to candidates fifteen minutes prior to the interview.

The second round interview is conducted by a panel of 3-5 practitioners, including one Queen’s Counsel.  They are scheduled for 25-30 minutes and involve a presentation by the candidate.  The presentation topic will be provided to the candidate at least 48 hours in advance of the interview.

The hypothetical question and presentation topic require no specialist knowledge. Candidates are however expected to have an interest in, and general understanding of, legal matters. These exercises are designed to test your ability to think on your feet, articulate an argument and demonstrate presentational and persuasive skills, and judgement. They may require a general knowledge of current affairs, equal opportunities, legal issues or law.  Other questions are designed to assess personal qualities such as temperament, sense of humour, client skills, organisational skills, commitment; general knowledge of current affairs, equal opportunities or legal issues; and legal interests.

For those applying for the specialist housing and social welfare pupillage, candidates will be expected to demonstrate their interest in housing and social welfare.

The Pupillage Gateway

Chambers is part of the Bar Council Pupillage Gateway scheme which allows potential pupils to apply to up to 12 participating sets. Full details of our vacancies and awards are published on the Pupillage Gateway website. Please click here for more details.

If you have any queries regarding the pupillage application or selection process, please email Mark Dembovsky or call on 020 7404 1313