FAQs

Pupillage

Useful information can be found on the Bar Standards Board website, which is available here.

Fountain Court welcomes applications from appropriately qualified solicitors who meet our pupillage criteria. Many of our members are former solicitors. Click here to read about Marcus Field and Francesca Ruddy‘s transition to the Bar and why they chose to join Fountain Court. We encourage transferring solicitors to make their applications through the Pupillage Gateway.

A candidate will only be offered pupillage if we consider that they have real potential to be a tenant. We do not operate a quota system and make offers of tenancy to all pupils who meet the relevant standard. Tenancy offers are usually made in June or July of each year. In recent times, we have taken on all of our pupils in a given year.

From October 2021, each pupil will receive a total of £75,000, in the form of a first six-month award of £50,000, and a second six-month award of £25,000. The awards are payable monthly in advance during pupillage. The pupillage year runs from October to September.

Pupils are called upon to complete specific pieces of work for members. The work is varied and challenging and most of it is commercial in nature.

A lot of time is spent reading papers, preparing pleadings, advices and notes on specific questions of law are often required. A pupil can expect to accompany members of chambers to trials, appeals and, more frequently, interlocutory hearings. If pupils wish to experience particular areas of work, that can usually be arranged.

We are committed to promoting equality and diversity and recognise the under-representation of various minority groups both in chambers and at the wider commercial bar.

We wish to recruit the best people from the widest possible group of talent and we are involved in a number of programmes that seek to widen the pool of applicants at the commercial bar, including the Mentoring Scheme for Underrepresented Groups, Combar Scholarship Scheme, Pathways to Law, the Sutton Trust and the recently established Women at the Commercial Bar initiative (see article in The Times about this here). You can find out more about our approach to Equality and Diversity here.

We have robust policies and procedures in place to ensure that there is no discrimination against clients, members, pupils, prospective pupils, or staff on grounds of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, or any other protected characteristic. Further information on our policies can be found here.

Applications for pupillage at Fountain Court are to be made through the Bar Council’s Pupillage Gateway. A timetable can be found here.

The criteria by which we select our pupils, and ultimately our tenants are:

  • Academic and intellectual ability.
  • Advocacy and communication skills, including:
    • Clarity of expression;
    • Ability to think and respond under pressure; and
    • Potential capacity as advocate.
  • Potential to be a successful self-employed practitioner at the Commercial Bar, including:
    • Interest and understanding in the type of work done by chambers;
    • Potential ability to work well with members of chambers, solicitors, clients, staff and other pupils; and
    • Determination, resilience and integrity.

Chambers is prepared to advance up to £20,000 prior to pupils starting their pupillage.

At Fountain Court, we offer loans to new tenants to ensure that they receive an income at least equal to the amount of their pupillage award during their first year of tenancy. However, in recent years, it has never been necessary to do so, and pupils have comfortably earned more than their pupillage award in their first year.

New tenants are not required to share the expenses of chambers administration. Contributions are proportionate to income, so the senior members of chambers pay the greater part of the costs. During their first year of practice, tenants may be asked to undertake a modest amount of pro bono legal work instead, for voluntary or charitable organisations.

Junior tenants at Fountain Court Chambers undertake a mixture of led work (working together on a case with a more senior barrister, often also from Fountain Court) and unled work (where the junior barrister is the only barrister on the case). Therefore, a junior tenant’s caseload is very diverse as they are likely to be working on very significant commercial litigation at the same time as handling much smaller, discrete matters on their own.

We strongly encourage junior tenants to undertake as much of their own advocacy work as possible in the first few years of practice, to hone their advocacy skills and gain experience ‘on their feet’.

It is a distinguishing feature of life as a junior tenant that the individual barrister has both a great deal of responsibility from a very early stage and the ability to manage their workload and practice in line with their own commitments and preferences. There are no set working hours, no fixed holiday limits and it is often possible to work from home – all of which gives a junior tenant at Fountain Court a flexibility in their working life, which is seldom found in the early stages of other professional roles.

Click here to listen to our ‘The Life of a New Tenant’ podcast.

Whilst our junior tenants work hard, and their clients will expect them to produce work of the highest standard, this work is carried out within an environment which is friendly and supportive.

Fountain Court operates a mentoring scheme for junior tenants in the early years of practice, whereby they are designated a more senior member of chambers who meets with them regularly to discuss how their practice is developing. The junior tenant is able to discuss in confidence any concerns that they may have and gain support from their mentor.

Mini-Pupillage

If you are a law student, you should look to apply for a mini pupillage in your second or third year of university. For non-law students, as our mini pupillages are assessed and require you to undertake a piece of legal written work, you should aim to make an application once you have begun your legal studies.

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