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Mini Pupillage – What to Expect

by Charles Nwabueze
Reading Time: 4 minutes

What is a Mini-Pupillage

A mini-pupillage or mini as it’s sometimes called is a work experience program designed to provide students with valuable insight into the realities of life at the Bar and improve their understanding of how the Chambers’ areas of expertise operate in practice. A mini-pupillage involves shadowing a barrister, possibly with the option of attending court hearings. The length of a mini-pupillage can vary from a day to two weeks. The mini-pupillage is geared towards people aspiring to be barristers. It is the equivalent of a vacation scheme for aspiring solicitors.

Who is Eligible for a Mini-Pupillage

Mini-pupillages are generally open for mini pupils who are in the first, second and third year of their LLB programme. Students who are undertaking a non-legal undergraduate course are also catered for. Existing legal professionals or non-legal professionals who are considering taking the LLB or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) are also included. Those already studying for a postgraduate or a GDL or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) or have completed any of these programmes are also eligible. 

What to Expect

While mini-pupillages vary from chamber to chamber what to expect on one will not be far from the following. During your mini-pupillage, you might be supervised by a junior member of Chambers who will be responsible for making sure that a broad cross-section of work is made available to you. The favourite structure for mini-pupillages is to be placed with a practitioner who specialises in at least one area of expertise in which you are interested and, in doing so, allow you to explore what life is like at the junior end of the Bar. It is also possible that in some chambers, arrangements for a more senior member to act as your satellite supervisor on more complex cases will be made available. Furthermore, you might partake in reviewing the paperwork of the barrister that you are shadowing. Completing administrative tasks, carrying out legal research and drafting documents are things to expect. If your mini falls on some of the social events of the chamber, you might get lucky and be invited – a good place to network. 

You should also note that in some mini-pupillages, you might never step foot in the location of the chambers. In my mini-pupillage, this was the case, every day for an incredible period of two weeks I met the barrister assigned to me at different court premises around the country or the police custody when dealing with clients that were charged with crimes. I loved this structure because it exposed me to the incredible amount of self-independence that barristers enjoy. 

When you look at some chambers’ websites, they might claim that they do not assess their mini-pupils in any way, as such, the minis do not form part of their selection process for a pupillage. This may be so, but it will be best to act like you were being assessed, and put in your best effort. 

Benefits of Completing a Mini-Pupillage

The insight that you gain from a mini-pupillage will provide you with the opportunity to determine to a certain extent if a career as a barrister is what you want. As I stated earlier, barristers enjoy an incredible amount of self-independence, and through shadowing one you’ll be able to picture if being independent in such a way would beneficial for your career growth. Some people do not like too much independence but would rather prefer a structure of the 9-5 job, and so forth. Another benefit is that a mini offers you specific insight into specific practice areas of a barrister that you may be interested in. The mini also helps you to broaden your network and meet experienced barristers who have been in the game for a while. I remember that during my mini, after attending court hearings, the barrister I was assigned to would invite me to for a meal with him and the opposing barrister. In a particular situation, as a result of being at a meal with the opposing barrister, I found out that we were neighbours – he gave me a ride home, and on the way, I asked tons of questions that received answers.

Furthermore, by way of participating in a mini, you avail yourself of the opportunity of impressing the chambers that might be offering pupillages. If the chambers see that you are committed to the path, and a good fit, any subsequent application from you will be looked upon favourably.  In certain chambers, to be offered a pupillage at their chambers you may need to have taken part in a mini-pupillage in their chambers or at any other chambers. 

Application Process

Some chambers may require that you send the following documents to the department in charge of mini-pupillages: a CV and covering letter or an application form. A lot of chambers seek to make sure that aspiring barristers from underrepresented backgrounds are given a chance, so you might be required to send in an Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form or Diversity Form. Sometimes the application process may not be necessary as some mini pupils never had to apply for a mini-pupillage but yet got one. I did not have to apply for my mini-pupillage at a leading Chambers in London; I was offered the mini-pupillage as a result of achieving the best grades in my second year of the LLB programme – the chambers I did my mini at and my university had a partnership. Thus, it will be good practice to refer to the various other posts on Congrapps which will help you get excellent grades in your degree. Who knows as a result of getting great grades (and if your university has a partnership with some chambers) you might never need to apply to get a mini-pupillage.


Charles is a writer, practising lawyer and personal trainer who loves learning and developing himself. He graduated from Middlesex University, London with eight first-class grades in the second and third years of his law degree, and received a postgraduate offer from Cambridge University. He loves strength training, boxing and encouraging people to succeed in their pursuits (legal ones)


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