They really don’t tell you that graduating amidst a pandemic is probably one of the most anticlimactic experiences you could have, but I knew that the biggest challenge of all was yet to come; that gruelling process of applying for pupillage.
I told myself that I was just a baby doing her undergrad and this was just a practice round, an opportunity to give it my all but be realistic about my chances. After 16 applications to London criminal sets, and plucking up the courage to apply to my dream Chambers, the rejections began rolling in.
But then came not only two first round interviews, but one with the dream Chambers. Covid meant that this glimpse of hope was short lived; one set withdrew post first round and dream Chambers postponed their first round indefinitely.
By now, it had been months since any sense of normality and the possibility of pupillage was seemingly long gone. That was when dream Chambers rescheduled their first-round interview, following which, I breathed for the first time since finishing my degree, confident that a second round wouldn’t come.
But it did, and it was accompanied by a moment of realisation: I, a non-white undergrad at a non-Russell group university, might actually have a chance at securing the holy grail, with my dream Chambers?!
I prepared for about 6 hours a day every single day for an entire month. I read every piece of legal news that my brain would absorb, taught myself what a plea in mitigation even was, begged LinkedIn connections for mocks and took my Chambers stalking skills to a new level. The words “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” constantly rang in my ears and I left that interview room feeling privileged to have met a wonderful panel that had given me an incredible experience, as well as even more determination to apply to dream Chambers next year.
Some days later, I picked up the phone and it was the Head of Pupillage. “I hope you’re free in September?” Was he offering me pupillage? Had I jumped to conclusions? How do I stop replaying the first line of Bohemian Rhapsody? I couldn’t believe it. I had gotten pupillage with 2 Bedford Row.
I share my story to encourage others, whether new to this gruelling process or all too familiar with it, to take every opportunity. Even if you think it won’t happen, even if you think the odds are against you, give it your all and just try. A pupil barrister once told me that it’s not a case of if, but just when.
Now, to face that dreaded White Book that I’ve heard so much about.
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