I have been looking forward for weeks to being able review (I think) the first in-person pupillage fair since the curtain came down last year. The targetjobs National Pupillage Fair on Saturday 27th November did not disappoint.
Fourteen chambers gathered in Lincoln’s Inn’s Ashworth Centre (no need for me to repeat my architectural takeaways) alongside a specialist firm of accountants for barristers and the Free Representation Unit. Six Bar Course providers were also present but, perhaps surprisingly given the location, not the Inns of Court College of Advocacy, which was a tad disappointing. I suspect most City GDL students are minded either to stay where they are, in which case no need to pay particular attention to that part of the fair, or move to the ICCA, the new kid on the block.
This is not the biggest pupillage fair around but it was still well worth the trip up to town. I got there for its start at 10:30 (ok I was fashionably late) and stayed until just after 2pm (chucking out time was 3pm), of which just under an hour was spent listening to the ‘commercial Bar’ panel discussion and the rest going round the stalls trying desperately to remember roughly which field each chambers practiced in so as not to have to sound like some sort of minor royal by asking everyone, ‘and what do you do?’ As usual I didn’t quite manage to hit the sweet-spot on dress-code; I was in a minority in a lounge suit and could have comfortably got away with smart casual.
The trick with these fairs is to treat them as time-saving exercises. Rather than spending hours trawling through websites trying to work out the difference between two sets that each claim to cover every aspect of their overarching field, go to a fair and ask about the cases the barrister has been working on in the past week. With a bit of luck they’ll spell out the exact nuances that distinguish their set from the ones with the neighbouring stall, all first-rate stuff for application forms. The other good thing about being back in person is you get to see the tiny cues that, if you’re a fan of reading into everything, could be very revealing about individuals and sets. Who sits behind their table and who stands in front? Who is happy to make do with the sandwiches and water provided, and who brings their own half-bottle of plonk and cheese platter – à la French motorway services?
So there you have it. The first in-person pupillage fair in eighteen months and I hope I’ve given you a flavour of what to expect from such things. Let’s all hope there are many more to come. I leave the last word to targetjobs, the organiser of Saturday’s fair, who told me they were:
“…delighted to be back at Lincoln’s Inn, especially for our first in person student event since Covid! We’re so grateful for the support of the chambers, course providers and students for making today’s event possible…
Thanks to Matthew Pugh (member of this year’s Lawbore journalist team) for this excellent review of their evening at Lincolns Inn. Matthew is studying for a GDL at City Law School with the intention of going to the Bar. Before coming to City he read Classics and was editor of the Oxford Bar Society’s magazine, The Pupil.