What does pupillage at 39 Essex Chambers involve?

The pupillage award on offer for the pupillage year is £70,000 of which £5,000 will be by way of guaranteed earnings in the second six, payable in equal monthly instalments across the twelve month pupillage.  Earnings for your own work in the second six months is additional to this award (above the £5,000 minimum).  Up to £15,000 of the £70,000 award may be drawn down in advance over the BPTC year and/or for relevant postgraduate study in the year before commencement of pupillage (with pro rata reductions during the pupillage year).

In the course of the twelve months, each pupil will sit with four successive pupillage supervisors. The tenancy decision is normally taken in July, and it is important that each pupil has roughly the same length of time with each pupillage supervisor. This means that each pupil will sit with each supervisor for a little under two months. After the tenancy decision is taken, pupils normally remain with whoever is their pupillage supervisor at the time, although alternative arrangements can be made at that stage if desired.

One of our greatest strengths is the range of areas in which we practice. We structure pupillage and select our pupillage supervisors to reflect that range. As a broad indication, however, pupils can expect to sit with two barristers working in the public law arena, and two barristers working in the private law field.

Pupils can therefore expect to see a wide variety of work, both public and private law, in the course of their pupillage, though each individual’s experience of pupillage will be different.

Pupils shadow their supervisors in Court, in conferences and in their professional lives in Chambers. They get the chance to prepare written submissions, pleadings, advices and other paperwork in the cases in which their pupillage supervisors are involved, and will have the chance to compare their work with that of their supervisors.

As a general rule, we do not permit our pupils to work for members of Chambers other than their current pupillage supervisors, with the exception of work for the shadow pupillage panel. We believe that pupils learn most from following one person for a sustained period of time to experience the practicalities of life at the Bar, gain invaluable experience of different styles of advocacy and drafting and, last but not least, to build up a rapport with that supervisor.

We also believe strongly that our pupils should gain experience on their own account at the earliest possible stage. Pupils can therefore expect to be in Court on small claims cases or interim applications in larger matters in the second six months of their pupillage. They may also get the chance to draft pleadings or advices. The precise amount of work pupils can expect to receive varies from year to year, but they can expect to be in Court once or twice a week toward the end of their second six months of pupillage. Pupils keep all earnings from such work and do not pay any contribution to Chambers on those earnings.

As part of the training requirements laid down by the Bar Council, pupils must also attend the advocacy training course provided by their Inn of Court and an “Advice to Counsel Course” provided by the Bar Council. Pupils also usually complete a forensic accountancy course during the second six months (it must in any event be completed by the end of the third year in practice). All these courses are paid for by Chambers.

Our pupils work hard, but they are also fully integrated into the life of Chambers. We have a reputation as one of the most approachable sets of Chambers at the Bar, and we aim to ensure that our pupils share that experience.

Every Friday the Chambers hosts either lunch or drinks for barristers, pupils and staff and members of Chambers are actively encouraged to maintain their outside interests. Some recent examples of the more alternative aspects of Chambers’ life include members being sponsored to run the London Marathon and Oxfam 100km trailfinders; entering several teams in the London Triathlon; and sponsoring the performance of John Taverner’s “The Veil of the Temple” – an all night performance of an extraordinary piece of music.

For a snapshot of the experiences of one recent pupil, click here.


We generally pay our pupillage award in 12 equal monthly installments commencing at the beginning of the pupillage, but can arrange different options to suit particular cases. We expect our pupils to pay their travel expenses out of their pupillage award, but do not expect pupils to travel far from London or to stay overnight.


Tenancy decisions are normally taken in July. The pupillage supervisors play an important role in recommending pupils for Chambers approval, but pupils are also asked to carry out assessed pieces of written work for members of the shadow pupillage panel. This panel consists of between four and six members of Chambers, including at least one silk. This allows a broader range of members of Chambers to have direct experience of pupils’ work. As part of the decision-making process, we also ask our pupils to undergo an advocacy assessment, full details of which will be provided during pupillage.

We select our tenants using the same criteria as we use for selecting our pupils and our mini-pupils. Wherever possible, we aim to recruit junior tenants from our own pupils, and pride ourselves on the fairness and rigor of our selection procedures. In the past, we have made 0 to 3 offers of tenancy per year. However, we do not have a limit on the number of new tenants accepted in any given year, and will make our decision based on the strengths of each individual pupil who applies for tenancy.

We have a very strong tradition of providing effective assistance in finding third six pupillages or tenancies for those who are not successful in obtaining tenancy with us and who wish to pursue a career at the Bar.

Call +44 (0)20 7832 1111 for more information

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