Career in Law | Blog

Alternative Jobs For Barristers Without Pupillage

Updated 10 March 2019

If you are lucky enough to have secured a pupillage prior to commencing your BPTC you should be proud of yourself and continue with the hard work. However, not everyone secures a pupillage and the number of available pupillage vacancies against the number of aspiring barristers remains disproportionately high. So, what to do if you do not get a pupillage? Today we will explore several BPTC graduate jobs that you could consider while applying for pupillage.

  1. Explore law research opportunities

If you aim is to continue to search and apply for pupillages you may want to consider a law research position at the Law Commission or even Consumer Group Which? The experience and skills you could gain from such roles are invaluable for a barrister career and it will be an important addition to your law CV.

  1. Consider becoming a barrister assistant

Whilst we acknowledge that barrister assistant jobs are usually very few available but nonetheless, a role in this capacity will be a great benefit to a barrister without pupillage. It goes without saying that the role will offer you direct and relevant experience, present you with an opportunity to network and establish your personal brand and more importantly it could even open the door to a pupillage at the same chambers. Our top tip would be to do quick research to find which sets have previously recruited barrister assistants and contact them directly for opportunities even if they are not currently recruiting. Being proactive will not do you any harm as some chambers may be open to researchers whilst not actively looking.

  1. Focus on litigation related law support jobs

You will also want to keep an open mind to legal assistant and paralegal roles, particularly litigation focused ones. If an opportunity becomes available at a well-known litigation team or better a litigation-only firm, you should seriously consider it, as you will gain valuable experience and continue to demonstrate a commitment to a career in law. Some law firms have in-house barristers even QC’s, so you could pick up some invaluable advice as well as relevant attributes whilst in this role. Although limited opportunities, see if the Free Representation Unit has any legal roles available. Most recently FRU advertised on our job board for a legal officer role for a fixed term contract for 12. A role at FRU would be highly beneficial to your career at the bar.

  1. Take up voluntary positions alongside other paid jobs

Understandably you will ideally want a paid job to repay some of the debts accumulated whilst studying for your BPTC course. However, if the above options are not available, you could take up other types of paid job whilst also volunteering at the Citizen Advice Bureau or the FRU. The point is that you want to continue to be active in the legal field to demonstrate commitment and willingness to hone your barrister skills. Besides, any Pro Bono work on your law CV will always add considerable value to your pupillage applications.

  1. Don’t give up

Our top tip is to keep trying and learn from every pupillage rejection you get. Perseverance is key, and it will pay off in the end. Indeed, many well-established barristers have gone through tens of rejections before securing a pupillage, which goes to show that is not easy but also that perseverance will pay off in the end. One barrister once claimed that when he sees an applicant which has tried several times for pupillage and has not been deterred by the rejections, it could actually work in your favor as it demonstrates a degree of perseverance which is a quality required by a barrister in many ways.

There you have it. Our guide to alternative legal careers in the absence of a secured pupillage. We are always keen to hear your thoughts and comments, so feel free to comment below but also share this article with friends and colleagues. 


Joe Simmons

Legal recruiter and blogger @purelegaljobs

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