For many years the reputation of Bank House Chambers has been maintained and enhanced through the high calibre of new tenants who have successfully completed their pupillage within Chambers.
To continue this progress requires the selection of pupils who can demonstrate the necessary aptitude and potential for a successful career at the bar. Bank House Chambers are committed to providing the best possible training to develop the skills, knowledge, integrity and experience to achieve this.
Whilst no guarantee can be given that a pupil will be offered tenancy upon completion of their pupillage, investment by Chambers, at an early stage, by ensuring a pupil is educated to the highest standard will only serve to enhance Chambers standing in the future.
Bank House Chambers operates the Bar Council’s “Equality Code for the Bar” and employs an Equal Opportunities Policy. All applications for pupillage are considered solely on merit in accordance with this policy.
Selection of pupils
The Pupillage & Tenancy Committee is appointed by members of Chambers at a general meeting and reports to Management Committee.
Its duties include:
- recruitment of pupils and their induction into Chambers
- monitoring of pupils and the completion of checklists
- providing an annual report to the Management Committee
The Pupillage & Tenancy Committee appoints a Pupillage Officer who is the point of contact for all enquiries and chairs Pupillage & Tenancy Committee meetings.
Members of Chambers, in a Chambers meeting, decide the number of pupillage vacancies annually, in line with Chambers' business plan and the views of the Senior Clerk.
All dates for the recruitment process are available on the website. Applications are to be submitted by way of the Pupillage Application Form. All applications will be acknowledged within 28 days by the CA.
All applications are considered by at least two members of the Pupillage and Tenancy Committee who use the criteria set out in appendix 1 under the four broad categories of academic achievement, legal knowledge and experience, commitment to the bar and other experience and achievements. All applications received will be anonymised. This system should be viewed as an opportunity for the Applicant to present a number of positive personal attributes. Applicants are solely judged on the selection criteria outlined in appendix 2.
The Pupillage Officer co-ordinates the scores; candidates with the highest scores are invited for interview.
The interview panel consists at least five members of Chambers drawn from all areas of specialisation. The same panel will interview all the candidates in any one year.
Interviewees may be asked to prepare written work and/or an oral piece of work as part of the selection procedure. The standard set of questions and guidelines for scoring are discussed and agreed by the Pupillage & Tenancy Committee before interviews begin.
Applicants can expect to be asked about themselves and some ethical and legal questions. Each interview lasts for approximately twenty minutes.
The selection criteria (appendix 3) consist of nine elements. Panel members, individually and objectively, score each applicant out of maximum of five marks per criterion. The score sheet is collected before the start of the next interview.
The Pupillage Officer co-ordinates the scores; candidates with the highest score are offered a pupillage. If considered necessary candidates may be invited back to spend a day in Chambers after which soundings will be taken from members of Chambers as to whether a pupillage should be offered, applying the aforesaid criteria.
At each of the above stages, those candidates who are unsuccessful will be notified promptly. Requests for constructive feedback from applicants will be answered as soon as reasonably practical.
All pupillage applications are retained in Chambers for one year after the selection process has been completed.
Financing of pupillage
Sponsored pupils may be considered.
The pupillage is financed by an award of £6,000 for the first six months and guaranteed earnings of £1,000 per month during each of the second six months, which gives guaranteed earnings of £12,000. Pupils pay 5% of Chambers expenses and clerks fees on fees received during their pupillage.
Role and duties of Pupil Supervisors
Bank House Chambers ensures that its Pupil Supervisors have been approved by their respective Inns of Court, and their names appear on the current list of Pupil Supervisors.
The Pupil Supervisor should offer friendship, guidance and support to the pupil and ensure that the pupil’s physical, professional and social environment is conductive to effective preparation for professional practice at the Bar.
The Pupil Supervisor will require his pupil to read his papers and draft paperwork and accompany him to conferences and to Court to enable the pupil to gain insight and experience.
In the early stages of a pupillage, a pupil may expect to spend most of his time with his Supervisor. It is however Chambers’ practice to encourage pupils to shadow as many members of Chambers as possible to enable the pupil to observe different styles and practices.
During the second six months, the Pupil Supervisor should give assistance before the pupil goes into Court and be prepared to discuss the experience afterwards.
It is the duty of the Pupil Supervisor to monitor the supply of paperwork from other members of Chambers to ensure that the pupil is not over-burdened.
Role and duties of pupils
All client matters, and internal matters pertaining to Chambers are confidential and pupils shall maintain that confidentiality. Pupils shall not discuss cases with the professional client except in the presence of the member of Chambers who has the conduct of the matter.
Pupils are expected to be in Chambers or at Court between the hours of 9.30am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday but must also be available to work during evenings and weekends as necessary (as is the common practice at the Bar). Pupils are entitled to public holidays and five weeks holiday per year but such holidays may only be taken at times agreed by their Supervisor. If a pupil is absent through sickness for more than five working days in either six-month period of pupillage, the term of that part of the pupillage will be extended by the period of sick leave.
By arrangement with their Supervisor, a pupil may arrange a period of marshalling with a District Judge or Judge or to attend in a solicitor’s office for short periods during pupillage.
Pupils must be familiar with the Code of Conduct of the Bar and behave in accordance with it. When in Chambers or on Chambers business, pupils must dress in a manner befitting of the Bar. At all times, the behaviour of pupils must meet the standards befitting of the Bar.
In addition to the Common Law checklist, Chambers uses the Criminal and Family checklists. It is the responsibility of every pupil to obtain the necessary checklists for use of that pupil and his/her Supervisor, and to ensure that they have been completed and signed by the pupil and Supervisor and submitted to the Pupillage Officer and the General Council of the Bar at the end of the 12 months pupillage. The checklists will be considered at each appraisal with the Supervisor.
Chambers will pay course fees for all Bar Council compulsory continuing educational or professional courses that a pupil attends during pupillage. The pupil will keep records of such courses attended.
Monitoring of Pupillage
This is a continuing process. At the end of every three months the Pupil Supervisor, the Pupillage Officer and the pupil meet to review the pupil’s progress and to prepare a brief written report for the Pupillage & Tenancy Committee detailing:
- the impressions and views of the pupil
- the pupil’s strengths and areas for improvement
- any work required for the subsequent period.
Distribution of work
To ensure fair distribution, work distributed among working pupils is carried out by the clerks on a rotational basis, subject to availability of the pupil.
Work distribution is monitored by computerised records of:
- the number of chargeable items of work
- the main reason for the clerks’ choice or pupil, i.e. availability, or their relevant experience, or whether it was a career development opportunity.
The computerised records are reviewed every three months by the Pupillage Officer with the Pupil Supervisor to ensure fair distribution and equal opportunity. If any discrimination is identified the equal opportunities officer ensures that action is taken to prevent recurrence.
During the pupillage, it is expected that the pupil and the Pupil Supervisor will establish a good professional relationship and mutual confidence and respect. Grievances, whether concerning work, conduct in Chambers or any other matter should be raised by a pupil, in the first instance, with the Supervisor. If it is for some reason inappropriate to do so, or if the pupil remains dissatisfied, the pupil may take the matter to the Pupillage Officer or the Pupillage & Tenancy Committee. The Pupillage Officer or the Pupillage & Tenancy Committee will discuss the grievance with all parties concerned and endeavour to resolve the grievance. If possible, those with whom they are raised, will treat grievances in confidence.
If the pupil remains dissatisfied with the resolution proposed by the Pupillage & Tenancy Committee, he should appeal the matter to the Head of Chambers, who will, together with the Management Committee and other members of Chambers as appear appropriate, endeavour to resolve the matter.
If the pupil is unable to pursue their grievance through the Pupil Supervisor, Pupillage Officer, or the Pupillage & Tenancy Committee, or upon appeal, or if the pupil remains dissatisfied, the pupil may take the matter to the North-Eastern Circuit Pupillage Committee by contacting Mr Alistair McDonald QC.
Pupils and membership
A pupil’s application for tenancy will be considered by the members of Chambers as detailed within Chambers’ constitution. At the end of the eleventh month of pupillage, pupils will be informed whether their application for tenancy has been successful by their Pupil Supervisor.
The Pupillage & Tenancy Committee will assist any unsuccessful candidate to find pupillage, tenancy or other work elsewhere.
Other Applications for membership
Bank House Chambers may, at times, wish to take on experienced practitioners. This is achieved by receipt of formal applications, whether unsolicited, in response to an advertisement or by approach to appropriate candidates.
The Pupillage & Tenancy Committee discuss the applications and where appropriate invite the candidate for interview to discuss their professional history and experience.
An offer of membership is made following consultation and voting process detailed in Chambers’ constitution.
Confidentiality is preserved in all cases when dealing with applications from experienced barristers or solicitors.