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Interview with a Recent Pupil

Interview with a Recent Pupil

Interview with Amber Turner (pupil 2022/2023)

Your journey to pupillage

I can’t remember when I first found out what “pupillage” was, but I’d say my journey started then. There aren’t any lawyers in my family, and neither of my parents went to university when they left school, so the Bar was a new world for all of us. I decided to do an undergraduate law degree, as it was a subject I was interested in, and I knew that I wanted to practise law. I tried out mooting, had a bad first experience, and received some inaccurate advice from other students about the Bar, which put me off for a while. After doing well in my first-year exams, however, I decided to go for it, knowing that what I really wanted was to be a barrister. I applied for some mini-pupillages in my second year, without much success, but I was fortunate to receive an Access to the Bar Award from Middle Temple, which gave me the opportunity to do a mini-pupillage and marshalling. In my third year, with support from a mentor, I made more mini-pupillage applications, focussing on commercial Chancery sets, and applied for the Bar course. Radcliffe was one of the sets who offered me a mini and, after a Covid-related delay, I spent three days in Chambers in December 2020, during my Bar course year. I applied for pupillage at Radcliffe immediately following my mini, and happily received an offer.

The pupillage experience

My pupillage experience was very positive. One of the best things about doing pupillage at Radcliffe is that the aim from Chambers’ point of view is to get you where you need to be to join as a tenant. That means that the quality of training is high, and everyone is invested in you doing well, but it also means that some of the stress of feeling like everyone is waiting for you to trip up is taken away. It is accepted that you won’t be perfect from day one, but there is an emphasis on feedback to help you improve. This feedback comes from supervisors, and also from other members during the two formal assessments.

Other highlights were the variety of work that I saw during pupillage, which covered the whole spectrum of commercial Chancery, learning from my four supervisors, who were great and taught me different things, and getting to know everyone in Chambers over the course of the year. 

The transition from pupil to tenant

The transition was definitely made easier by the experience of having a practising second six. My first day of tenancy didn’t feel like a big jump from my last day of pupillage given I was working on my own cases and going to court on my own already. Also, even though I stopped officially having a supervisor on my first day of tenancy, I still reach out to my supervisors and other members of Chambers when I have a question, so I didn’t feel like I was suddenly on my own.


In my opinion, the bigger differences have been practical ones. Although during pupillage you aren’t employed, there is still quite a lot of structure; there is a regular income, and a set amount of paid holiday. Self-employment is different: there is more freedom, and there are lots of other things to think about (insurance, tax, etc.). That has been the biggest adjustment for me.

What is the culture of chambers?

In three words: open, social, and supportive.

From day one of pupillage (and even during my mini-pupillage), I felt welcome at Radcliffe. Since then, I’ve appreciated how open people are to giving their time to discuss things with each other, whether it be a tricky legal question or something else. At Radcliffe, you know that someone will always be available, in person or on the other end of a call or email if you need them.

Again, from day one of pupillage, the social culture of Chambers was apparent. There are lots of regular Chambers events, ranging from daily afternoon tea to organised or impromptu lunches and drinks, to enjoy. Being a barrister is sometimes described as an isolated profession, and it can be in the sense that you are often working alone, but I haven’t felt lonely at Radcliffe. There are also plenty of networking events to go to, and no shortage of new people to meet.

Finally, Radcliffe is a supportive environment in which to build a career. The staff are fantastic and helpful, and there is a strong support network among the members. People want others to do well and celebrate achievements, as well as providing support when needed.

I find there is a good relationship between the members, clerks and staff and this is encouraged by Chambers.

Top tips for those wanting to become a barrister/secure a pupillage at your chambers

There are lots of helpful tips out there, and I don’t want to repeat the ones that are obvious, so here are some that I don’t think get rehearsed enough.

  1. Think hard about why it is that you want to be a barrister (and why at this, or any other, set of Chambers). Only once you have a clear idea about that will you be able to articulate it in a way that convinces the person reading your application or meeting you at interview.
  2. Try to understand what makes you stand out from your peers and use it. There are lots of impressive people applying for pupillage; if you have something that makes you memorable (and not for the wrong reasons!), then talk about it. Even if it’s not immediately law- or barrister-related, if you can persuade your reader that it is, then you’ve achieved three things in one: shown relevant experience or qualification, demonstrated your persuasiveness, and (hopefully) made an impression.
  3. There is a time and a place to be modest, and pupillage applications and interviews are not that time and place. Own your achievements.
  4. Be yourself. You might think you know the “type” of person that a particular Chambers is looking for, but: (1) you are probably wrong, and (2) if you’re not wrong, but you aren’t that “type”, then spending the application process, pupillage, and beyond pretending to be is not going to make you happy.

Visit our YouTube channel to watch our Pupillage Q&A videos and gain further insight into pupillage at Radcliffe Chambers, applications and life as a junior barrister.