How to apply – I have done about 6 mini pupillages so far and by far the most time consuming part is the application process. Not only should you apply for mini’s at least 6 months in advance, you should also expect your printing bill to go through the roof!
Unlike solicitor internships, mini pupillages are very ad hoc and usually they only want your CV and cover letter. Sounds simple right? It’s anything but! The problem is, if you write a CV in September when you just start university, but the time the mini comes around, you are bound to have done countless more things than what you put down. It is a constant updating process, so make sure your CV is always up to date: if you go to any event or achieve an award say, your CV should be your first port of call!
I had to send out over 40 applications just to get my 6 mini’s, but, in the first year, my CV was quite empty, but it is never too early to start. As a general rule, once you get one mini, others will follow.
Also, don’t be afraid to go for the highest chambers you can, all they want is to know they are giving a good opportunity to someone who deserves it and is interested in it. Even if your CV isn’t brimming with things, your cover letter could make up for it.
A few chambers may allow you to send your application via email. In this case, be aware! It is quite easy to send an email without attachments or for things to go wrong! Take your time, just because it is an email, don’t get complacent, always be polite and respectful, these people might be the ones to offer you pupillage in the future!
How to set out your CV/cover letter
As a general rule, for a cover letter, make sure it is a letter, with addresses and dates – presentation is everything! Your first paragraph should be what you are writing for i.e. to gain a mini pupillage and why. The second should go on to say why that chambers, so do your research. Chambers are constantly annoyed by having people coming up with excuses rather than reasons as most information about a chambers is on their website. They do realise you have probably sent a lot of applications, but tailor make each one to that chambers – there is no point saying they are a world class international specialists in business crime when they only do local white collar crime.
The rest of your letter should demonstrate you have the skills needed to make the most of your mini pupillage, show off your volunteering, your achievements in academics, and your ongoing goal to go into that type of law. Or, if you are unsure, say why you would be interested to learn more.
Finally, close with your dates you are available and a polite line like I look forward to hearing from you etc. Always end ‘yours sincerely’.
A structure for a CV is quiet simple, what most inns and barristers recommend is to first forget a personal profile, chambers hate this and with so many applications this could be the only thing that gets yours put aside. Start with your education, then your legal experience, then your other experience, then mooting – this is essential! Then go on to state your volunteering experience or positions of responsibility, then awards and finally, your interests and references.
On CV’s it is most important to be succinct. Your CV should be no longer than 2 pages. For each aspect put down, try to have only one or 2 lines of explanation. It should be a short, easy to read list. Bear in mind, chambers will go through it in about 30 seconds. Make sure it stands out and makes you look as good as possible.
Try and send as many as you can and try to get about 4 mini pupillages in an area you like, but also have a range of areas. Good luck!