28 October 2019

At the beginning of Michaelmas term, I attended the Exchange Chambers Pupillage Forum at their Liverpool Chambers. The forum is held annually, providing aspiring barristers with a unique insight into life at Exchange Chambers and the pupillage application process. The opportunity was both insightful and inspiring and I would encourage any law students considering a career at the Bar to make an application for the 2020 event.

The day began with a welcome from Bill Braithwaite QC, Head of Chambers, who spoke of his own pupillage experience, a timely reminder that everyone starts somewhere and that with motivation and determination, success is achievable. Throughout the day, we were fortunate enough to hear from various members of Chambers, notably Andrew Jebb, whose hints and tips on advocacy provided invaluable guidance on one of the key skills required of a barrister.

Perhaps the most distinctive talk of the day was that given by Chambers Director, Jonathan l’Anson, who explained how Chambers functions as a business, a side of the profession I had not previously been exposed to. As a large set, with Chambers in three different locations, Exchange Chambers takes a progressive approach to life at the Bar, maintaining a senior management, marketing, and business support team, working alongside its barristers and clerks. Learning about the management side of Chambers was incredibly interesting, offering a different perspective on the direction of a career in Chambers.

As a third-year law student now beginning to seek pupillage, the various perspectives on the pupillage process given by members of chambers were of great benefit. We heard from members of the Pupillage Committee within Chambers who provided practical advice for interviews at Exchange specifically, but also guidance that will be invaluable for the pupillage application process in general.

Having no prior connections to the Bar, the opportunity to network with junior tenants, as well as current and future pupils, proved most insightful. Hearing of their various journeys to the Bar served as reassurance in what is a daunting time for any aspiring barrister. Having experienced the Pupillage Forum, not only am I more informed as to the process itself, but I also feel much more at ease in what to expect when approaching applications, interviews and hopefully, pupillage itself.

Whilst I learnt a lot from the various informative talks throughout the day, it is perhaps the insight into the culture of Exchange Chambers for which I am most appreciative. Having undertaken mini-pupillages with various other sets, all experiences for which I am very grateful, the opportunity to engage with so many members of Chambers throughout the day provided an honest and well-rounded picture of Chambers’ ethos. From the QCs in attendance to the pupil barristers yet to begin pupillage at Exchange, every member of Chambers shared a friendly and welcoming attitude and a genuine willingness to help, all of which means a lot to those striving to succeed in a tough and competitive profession.