What do we offer you?
During the year's pupillage we aim to give a pupil a broad and thorough training in the types of work done by chambers. This also enables members of chambers (in selecting tenants) to make the best possible assessment of the pupil's abilities.
Pupils spend the first three and last three months with the same pupil supervisor (who has overall responsibility for seeing that they are getting proper experience) and the middle six months with two different pupil supervisors. A pupil will be called upon to do specific pieces of work for other members of chambers, particularly the Silks. In this way pupils will get to know and to be known by Chambers generally and experience the full spectrum of work done in Fountain Court. If pupils wish to see more of particular areas of work, that can usually be arranged.
The work of pupils is varied and challenging. Much of it is of a commercial nature and the Bar Council's "Commercial-General" pupillage checklist is used at Fountain Court. A pupil will spend much time reading papers and preparing pleadings and advices. Notes on specific questions of law are often required. This work is reviewed and discussed with the pupil supervisor. A pupil can also expect to accompany his or her pupil supervisor to trials and appeals and, more frequently, to interlocutory hearings.
One consequence of the nature of the work at Fountain Court is that it is unusual for pupils to get work of their own. However, it is Fountain Court policy to encourage pupils during their pupillage year to undertake a limited amount of work for the Free Representation Unit which trains and facilitates pupils, students and others to undertake advocacy on behalf of clients in employment and social security tribunals. Some pupils choose to undertake other pro bono work.
Pupils are not encouraged to undertake any paid advocacy work (or, for that matter, required to undertake any competitive advocacy exercises against each other) prior to the tenancy decision, usually made in June or July. Our recruitment process is designed to help us select as pupils those we think will make good advocates. During pupillage, we feel there are enough pressures on pupils without adding to them unnecessarily. This does not mean there is not a heavy emphasis on small advocacy work for junior tenants here once they have completed pupillage. It is vital that junior tenants get into court on a regular basis on smaller cases at this stage in their careers. Fountain Court is unusual in having a dedicated clerk whose principal role is obtaining and clerking small advocacy work for the most junior tenants and in recent years we have been very successful in deepening and broadening our range of small advocacy work.
Fountain Court is willing to consider making an advance to award pupils for the vocational course year, and has done so on numerous occasions in the past.