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 in the last five years had 10 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. We have previously offered specialist pupillages in housing and social welfare, and crime.
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 drafting. 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 endeavour to 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 both our general and specialist pupillages you are encouraged to gain experience of a cross-section of work and to experience a range of practising styles.
Your supervisor is responsible for introducing you to other members of Chambers and will oversee work allocation to ensure an appropriate amount of work. 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, and other specialist courts and tribunals. 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, introducing you to Chambers’ policies and procedures, and other members of Chambers. Throughout your pupillage your supervisor will meet with you regularly to discuss allocation of work and the progress of your pupillage and in addition, you will receive support from the Pupillage Committee with advocacy and business development training. 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 Professional Statement.
How is Pupillage Assessed?
Throughout your pupillage, casework and research are normally organised through supervisors. 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 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 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 either offered Tenancy, or Fixed Term Tenancy for 18 months. During a Fixed Term Tenancy, 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 £10,000 of guaranteed earnings in the second-six practising period 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 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 is looking for intelligent, independent and dedicated 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 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 a specialist pupillage must be committed to practising in that field should they succeed in becoming a tenant in Chambers.
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’.
From 2021, we will also be using the Rare contextual recruitment system.
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.
Those applying for a specialist pupillage will additionally be scored on their commitment to practicing in that field.
Our Selection Process
We usually receive about 500 applications. Those applying for a specialist pupillage cannot also apply for, and will not be considered for, our general pupillages.
If an application makes it through two paper sifts the candidate will then be invited for a first round interview. We usually interview around 20 to 30 candidates in the first round. After this approximately 6 to 8 candidates will be invited for a second interview. Applications for a specialist 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. This may be followed by topical questions.
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 based on a written submission. 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 intellectual and analytical skills, written and oral advocacy. They may require a general knowledge of current affairs, equal opportunities, legal issues or law. Other questions are designed to assess your ethical judgment and personal qualities such as resilience, motivation and dynamism, and commitment to civil liberties and human rights.
For those applying for a specialist pupillage, candidates will be expected to demonstrate their interest in that subject area.
The Pupillage Gateway
Chambers is part of the Bar Council Pupillage Gateway scheme which allows potential pupils to apply to up to 20 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 Recruitment@doughtystreet.co.uk or call on 020 7404 1313.