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In our selection process we look for intellectual ability. In particular, the ability to apply complex legal analysis to practical problems and to develop and defend arguments, both orally and in writing. In recent years we have used set problems which we have found to be an effective method for identifying those who do well in pupillage.
We normally interview about 25 candidates. In making our initial selection for interview, we consider a candidate’s CV and covering letter. We look for proven academic ability, but also for some evidence of commitment to (and interest in) practice at the Bar. We do not require prior experience of studying or working in tax. We are interested in assessing candidates’ potential to develop as tax barristers, not their current level of legal or tax knowledge. However, we do expect candidates to have given sensible thought to why they might be suited to and interested in a career at the Tax Bar.
Our first-round interviews are based on a short problem given to the candidate twenty minutes beforehand. Typically, it will be a question of statutory interpretation with a relatively simple set of facts. This exercise is designed to test the candidate’s ability to work through statutory provisions, and to weigh the merits of different interpretations. We may also ask about CVs and covering letters, but we only expect a candidate to be able to talk sensibly about what they have written: our main focus is on the problem.
Our second round (of around ten candidates) usually consists of a written exercise to be completed within a set time. We may use this exercise to test how the candidate deals with case law, including how the candidate analyses and applies relevant legal principles. Relevant cases and materials are provided: it is not intended to be an exercise in research. Written answers are anonymised before being marked by the committee, but the final decision is taken in the light of the candidates’ performances over both rounds.
Where necessary, we hold a third round of interviews, where candidates are questioned on their written answers from the second round or are set a fresh problem.
Based on the performance of our pupils in recent years, we expect to take on at least one new tenant each year. However, if both pupils met the required standard for tenancy, we would expect to offer tenancy to both.
All enquiries relating to pupillages and mini-pupillages should, where possible, be made by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.