Pupillage

Why choose pupillage at Drystone Chambers?

Drystone Chambers is a leading London-based specialist criminal set ranked in both The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. We have an outstanding reputation in criminal litigation, local authority and trading standards, and regulatory and professional discipline.

Chambers is committed to providing opportunities to the most talented pupil candidates regardless of background or any protected characteristic, which we achieve through an anonymised vetting process and using a diverse range of our barristers at the interview stage.

We are a member of the Pupillage Gateway and accept applications within that timetable.

Three pupils started with us in October 2023 and two pupils are due to start in October 2024 with a third pupil to be recruited to also start in October 2024.  We are recruiting two pupils to start in September 2025.

Training Programme

We offer a structured in-house training programme, run by Karim Khalil KC and Andrew Price. Pupils will therefore benefit from training during pupillage from silks and senior juniors, sharing their expertise in specific areas including disclosure, closing speeches and cross-examination. The training programme also covers different practice areas, such as Trading Standards and Professional Discipline work.

A structured feedback form is provided to each pupil after each session, which is sent both to the pupil and their supervisor for discussion. This ensures the pupil learns as much as possible throughout the programme and Chambers can take their progress into account when making decisions for tenancy.

What we Offer

As a 12-month pupil at Drystone Chambers, you can expect to be in court every working day. For the first 6 months, you will shadow our senior juniors in their busy Crown Court practice. The ‘first six’ is split into two periods of three months, with a different supervisor for each. This is to ensure you experience a wide range of work and meet as many members of Chambers as possible. Previous pupils at Drystone have commented on the strong support and encouragement of their first six supervisors. Structured feedback is always given on any pieces of written work and the pupil’s supervisor manages any requests from other members of Chambers to ensure a fair distribution of work between pupils.

Drystone has qualified Pupil Supervisors in all of the regions where we regularly practice, from East Anglia to the Western Circuit. As such, first six pupils are given the opportunity before they commence pupillage with us to indicate a region where they would prefer to focus their first three months. Given the geographical range that Drystone covers, you can expect to travel a significant amount during pupillage. Although we are based in London, many members practice both in London but also elsewhere.

During the ‘second six’, you will have a busy practice, honing your advocacy skills in Magistrates’ court trials and first appearances. An effort is made to ensure pupils also gain experience in the Crown Court, for example attending mention hearings and bail applications and conducting appeals against conviction/sentence. Previous pupils have also conducted Crown Court trials.

As a Chambers we are friendly and approachable with a welcoming collegial atmosphere. We are supported by a team of experienced and dedicated clerks who will help you to develop and shape your practice, a separate management and finance team and separate billing and fee collection department.

Funding

Our current pupillage award (2023 – 2024 and 2024 – 2025) is £35,000. This is comprised of a grant of £20,000 in the first six months and guaranteed earnings of £15,000 in the second six months.

The award is paid by bank transfer in equal installments each month. The £20,000 first-six grant includes £5,000 to cover the pupil’s travel expenses. Pupils’ expenditure on travel during their first 6 months has been carefully monitored by Chambers in recent years to ensure that the £5,000 will realistically cover all travel expenses.

During the second six, the £15,000 will continue to be paid in equal installments each month, i.e. £2,500 per month. Should a pupil receive fees in excess of £2,500 in a single month, they are entitled to keep the extra fees without paying commission.

Tenancy

Drystone Chambers recruits pupils with a view to them becoming tenants. Every effort is made during pupillage to support an individual to achieve their potential and become a full member of Chambers.

Pupils are usually invited to apply for tenancy by way of a written letter towards the end of their 12 months of pupillage. Chambers does not insist on a pupil completing a further six months of pupillage (a ‘third six’) unless there are valid reasons for doing so. In such a case, the pupil is made aware well in advance of the expiry of their 12-month pupillage that they will be expected to extend their pupillage period before applying for tenancy.

The tenancy decision is based upon reports from each of the pupil’s supervisors and their performance during the in-house training programme sessions, as well as feedback from other members of Chambers and solicitors on any work the pupil has completed for them. All pupils are observed in court at various points during their second six to evaluate their advocacy.

Application Process

We are a member of the Pupillage Gateway and accept applications within that timetable which can be viewed here.

First round interviews are currently scheduled to take place on Saturday 16th March 2024.

Candidates who are successful after their interview will be required to undertake an assessed mini-pupillage in Chambers. This will be for the week commencing Monday 22nd April 2024. We expect candidates to be available for the full week but will consider individual requests for a shorter period. Chambers provides a bursary to cover all travel arrangements for the week. We do this to allow candidates every opportunity to show us their potential and to understand what practice at the Criminal Bar involves.

Offers will be made to successful candidates on Friday 10th May 2024, in accordance with the Gateway timetable.

Benjamin Disraeli famously said “There are three kinds of lies. Lies, damned lies, and statistics”. However used correctly numbers illuminate the truth; here are some about our criminal justice system.

59,687
Cases awaiting trial in Crown Court

2,400
Number of criminal barristers (approximately)

35%
Percentage of the Judiciary who are women

51%
Percentage of women in population in England and Wales

"Drystone Chambers is a 'go-to set' with excellent barristers and a good depth of counsel."


The Legal 500 2023

"Drystone Chambers is sufficiently large to offer a range of counsel with various specialisms to cover most courts in England and Wales."


The Legal 500 2023

"They have a depth of talent and expertise,"


Chambers & Partners 2023

"There are very experienced clerks who communicate efficiently and effectively and keep us informed."


Chambers & Partners 2023

"They are a well-organised clerks' room. They are quick to help and have lots of experience."


Chambers & Partners 2023

''Drystone Chambers is a good reliable set"


Legal 500 2023

"The Clerks are helpful and experienced"


Legal 500 2023

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