Aim and remit of policy
This is a Pupillage Policy document explaining the framework of pupillage applications, pupillage itself and the recruitment of tenants at Pump Court Tax Chambers (“Chambers”).
Choice of Pupils
Applications are made via the Pupillage Gateway, as explained on here. All applications are considered by a subcommittee of the Pupillage Committee (which consists of senior and junior members of Chambers). The most promising candidates are invited for interview.
Established practitioners considering applying to join Chambers should read the information here.
Pupils seeking a third six pupillages, and others in their early years of practice, should read the information here.
We look for strong academic qualifications or some clear indication of academic ability in applicants. Other important qualities include the ability to communicate clearly, both on paper and orally, confidence (without intellectual arrogance), teamwork, interest in detail and a desire (and ability) to work hard.
We are also influenced by some evidence of an interest in tax, or at least general Chancery or Commercial law. For example, someone who is clearly interested in criminal or general common law will not usually be happy with the work in Chambers. Prior experience of studying and working in tax is not required.
The Chambers’ Equality and Diversity Policy applies to all pupillage applications. All pupillage offers are made in accordance with this Policy.
Number of Pupils
Chambers normally makes two offers of pupillage (lasting for twelve months).
Pupillage awards are offered for up to £67,500 for 12 months, and are payable in equal monthly instalments in arrears.
Up to £25,000 of the pupillage award can be drawn down in the year prior to the commencement of pupillage. Chambers reserves the right to require the repayment of the whole or any part of the amount drawn down in the event that the pupil does not complete six months of pupillage.
Pupils are not expected to pay for meals, drinks, public transport costs etc. when accompanied by their pupil supervisor or other members. Their travel expenses will be reimbursed if they are required to travel outside London to attend conferences or court hearings. Chambers also reimburses the costs of attending the compulsory advocacy and Forensic Accounting courses.
Roles and Duties
Pupils receive no work of their own and no court work. First and second six pupils are treated alike.
The pupil will assist his or her pupil supervisor, and other members of chambers, with paperwork and preparation for court. In particular, pupils are expected to write opinions, draft skeleton arguments and research points of law as if their pupil supervisor’s case were their own. Unless informed otherwise, they are expected to attend all their pupil supervisor’s court appearances, conferences and telephone conferences. At conferences and in court, pupils are expected to take comprehensive notes. Other than this, pupils have no formal duties. Pupils are not expected to perform purely administrative or secretarial tasks, such as photocopying, for any member of chambers except in relation to matters in which they are involved.
Pupils are integrated into Chambers life as much as possible. They are expected to join the tenants for coffee in the morning and encouraged to participate in Chambers functions (such as dinners and other social events).
Chambers abides by the Working Time Regulations in accordance with Bar Council Guidance and the Pupillage Funding Regulations.
Pupils sit with a number of pupil supervisors and will usually begin the year with a single supervisor for the first two to three months. Each pupil in Chambers works in rotation with the same set of pupil supervisors for that year. This assists Chambers in providing a more comprehensive form of training and in applying uniform criteria in assessing pupils. Fairly formal feedback should be given to each pupil on their written work from his pupil supervisors at regular intervals during his or her pupillage. It is the responsibility of both the pupil and his/her pupil supervisor to ensure that this happens. At the end of his or her time with each pupil supervisor, the pupil is entitled to ask them to give an overall review of the work they have done for them. Towards the end of the pupillage, pupils are invited to do work for silks and other senior members of chambers.
At least one moot will be held during the year involving the pupil(s). This may in appropriate circumstances be held jointly with another set of tax chambers. This provides the pupils with the opportunity to do some advocacy and to demonstrate their ability to members of Chambers who will not otherwise see the pupils’ work. The pupils will be expected to draft skeleton arguments for a moot, which will be circulated to all members of Chambers.
Pupils are entitled to two weeks’ holiday in every six months in accordance with Bar Council regulations. Any requests for further time off should be made to the pupil’s pupil supervisor.
Chambers uses a bespoke checklist to ensure that pupils meet the standards outlined in the Bar Standards Board’s Professional Statement.
A twelve-month pupil has the right to terminate his or her pupillage after six months.
Chambers reserve the right to terminate a pupillage at any time and with immediate effect in the event of a serious breach of Chambers rules or the Bar Council Code of Conduct. This includes circumstances where the pupil engages in unprofessional conduct, is in material breach of rules concerning confidentiality, is rude to staff, colleagues or clients or his or her work is regularly of a highly unsatisfactory quality.
Chambers considers recruiting from among its pupils each year. In recent years there has usually been one new tenant recruited each year, though if more than one pupil is of a suitable standard more than one may be recruited. Recruitment at the bottom end is usually from pupils in Chambers only. Tenancy is voted on in a Chambers meeting.
Disappointed pupils are not expected to continue in Chambers, except to complete their pupillage. As much help as possible is given in finding further pupillages or vacancies outside the Bar. Chambers has an excellent history of finding work in accountancy or law firms, although in almost all cases the work is connected with tax.
Chambers also accepts applications for mini-pupillages. The main criteria are again academic ability and some evidence of enthusiasm for the subject. The Chambers Equality and Diversity Policy applies to the selection of mini-pupils. Mini-pupillages will not generally be offered to an applicant who has not started at university, and when a given mini-pupillage round is over-subscribed, priority is generally given to applicants who are in their second or later year of a law degree or have started the GDL. Chambers will also consider applications from overseas (EU and non-EU).
Mini-pupillages are funded. They are not assessed. Completion of such a mini- pupillage does not in itself affect consideration of any subsequent application for pupillage.
Mini-pupils are supervised by the junior members of Chambers but are exposed to work at all levels. Arrangements are also made for them to follow members of Chambers to court when possible.
This policy is reviewed annually.