I&N Blog: Damilola

The journey to pupillage can be emotionally draining, even for the most sanguine applicants.

I made my first effort at obtaining pupillage at the independent bar this year and was optimistic that I’d at least get an interview and find a way to charm the panel once I’d managed to edge my way into the room. But alas it wasn’t to be - at least not on this occasion. I received the rejection notification from my dream set on the day before my 27th birthday and immediately thought “not even an interview?”

The reality is that for every applicant there are the ‘punching above your weight’ sets, the ‘appropriately pitched’ sets and the ‘back-up’ sets, but I had made 4 gateway applications to major human rights and public law sets and completely abandoned any semblance of a sensible strategy. Albeit, I knew that I had consciously applied to those sets of chambers because I recognised that I had the skills and the ability to practice there. I had to reconcile myself to one of two realities, I had either misjudged my own ability or had just constructed a poor application. I eventually arrived at the latter, but not without a pinch of self-awareness and an understanding that external perception is germane to a career at the bar, be that at application, pupillage or at court.

I keep going because it is a joy to advocate on behalf of others, despite forging a mini career doing so in the policy space there is nothing as thrilling as crossing swords in litigation. I am lucky to have met some exceptional women barristers who have been the best mentors, role models and friends and have encouraged me to keep going as – “it is only a matter of time.

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