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Pupil’s View

  • Year of Pupillage :

The work at Littleton is varied. Chambers’ core practice areas are employment, commercial, and sports law.

One week you might be drafting the pleadings in a case for discrimination and unfair dismissal before the Employment Tribunal; the next, you could be writing to a football club seeking payment for intermediary services in negotiating a player transfer; and the week after that, you could be writing an opinion for misuse of confidential information and restrictive covenants case to be issued in the High Court. Pupillage at Littleton pairs this breadth of practice areas with depth of specialism, and by the end of your pupillage you can expect to have a firm grounding in, for example, the common types of employment claims. 

During your pupillage you will work closely with your supervisors on their cases, assisting them with their work and attending hearings with them. You will also have the opportunity to work for other members of Chambers, exposing you to both the different kinds of practice and the different styles of advocacy within Chambers. An impressive feature of pupillage at Littleton is the lack of dead work: I can only remember doing two pieces of dead work, so that I got to see how the vast majority of the work I did fed into the progression of a live case. In addition to working for members of Chambers, you will sit a number of written and advocacy assessments. These offer a chance to see how your skills are developing, and the areas to focus on for further development. For each piece of work or assessment you do, you will be given thorough feedback. Not only is this incredibly beneficial for learning the tools of the trade, but it provides transparency about how your pupillage is progressing.  

Pupillage is structured into four seats of three months, each under the supervision of a different member of Chambers. The first seat gives you an opportunity to acclimatise to pupillage. During this period you will work almost exclusively with your supervisor and will sit a single assessment. As you progress, you will do more work for other members of Chambers and will sit assessments more frequently. The focus of pupillage, however, is to help you develop as best you can, and this is factored into the amount of work you are given. 

Pupillage is emotionally and intellectually taxing – there’s no two ways about. Not only are you learning new areas of law and new skills at speed, but you are doing so in the shadow of the tenancy decision. However, every member of Chambers is well aware of the stress that pupils face and you will be met with sympathy and support at every step – everyone wants you to succeed. The highest praise I can give to Littleton’s pupillage process is that even had I not been taken on as a tenant, I would have had no complaints and would only have had myself to blame. If you are interested in cutting-edge employment, commercial, and sports disputes, are dedicated to developing your skills as barrister, and thrive in collegiate environments, applying to Littleton is an obvious choice!

An interview with our latest tenant, Alfie Lewis, on his experiences during pupillage and early tenancy can be found here.

"The people, the quality of work and the satisfaction you gain from life at the bar and at this Chambers, for me, made it all worth it!"
Sophie Cashell
  • Year of Pupillage :
  • University:
    University of Bristol
  • Degree subject:
    Law with study abroad

Pupillage at Littleton consists of four three-month periods with different pupil supervisors. Whilst the entirety of the 12 months is crucial for your training purposes, it is only the first 9 months which will count towards tenancy decision and that is always worth keeping in mind.

Whilst I had a practising second six, I did not have my own cases until July. From then on, I continued assisting my last supervisor with his work, but also had the opportunity to do preliminary hearings for myself, and draft pleadings for instructing solicitors.

During pupillage you will be exposed to all the key practice areas of Littleton. I was with an employment practitioner in my first and last three months, and with commercial practitioners in the middle six months.

The general thrust of pupillage is that you do work for your pupil supervisor, whether that be current work they are working on or past work which is used to develop your skills. The type of work and the type of courts or tribunals I experienced varied: I shadowed members of chambers in the Supreme Court; I drafted various pleadings (both for the Claimant and Respondent); I observed trials in the high court (for civil fraud) and also in the employment tribunal (for unfair dismissal, whistleblowing and discrimination); and I advised on various complicated (and sometimes unexplored) areas of both commercial and employment law.

In addition to work for my supervisor, I completed work for other members of chambers. This allowed me to continue to get involved in other areas of Chambers’ practice. For example, whilst I was with a commercial pupil supervisor, I advised on an employment matter, and drafted some pleadings in relation to a sports arbitration.

During the 12 months my co-pupil and I also had assessments, which tested both drafting and advocacy skills, and again involved the different areas of Chambers’ work. Following each piece of work for other members of chambers, and following each assessment, I received a mark out of 10 as well as helpful feedback. The entire process was transparent, and I always knew how to improve.

At the end of each three months, I had a handover with my previous and subsequent supervisors to discuss what work I had and had not done and what I needed to work on. I personally did not have the smoothest of beginnings, but Littleton really invested in me and wanted to see me succeed. The steep trajectory I then experienced was not just because of my own hard work, but also because of the efforts of those in Chambers with responsibility for my training. I am fortunate that I am now a tenant at such a supportive Chambers.

There is no shying away from the fact that pupillage is tough, but the people, the quality of work and the satisfaction you gain from life at the bar and at this Chambers, for me, made it all worth it!

"Chambers really does want pupils to succeed."
Alex Francis
  • Year of Pupillage:
  • University:

My pupillage year at Littleton was divided into four three-month periods, each with a different supervisor. That meant that during pupillage I saw a balance of employment and commercial work, which are Chambers’ core practice areas. Littleton barristers appear in leading cases in those fields.

My work during pupillage typically involved preparing a draft of documents that my pupil supervisor or another member of chambers was working on, including pleadings and other court documents, skeleton arguments and written advice. I also attended a range of court hearings from case management hearings to multi-day hearings on liability, both in the Employment Tribunal and the Civil Courts. I was encouraged throughout to discuss cases with my supervisors and other members of chambers and, to my surprise, found that even from day 1 they were interested to hear my views. It was particularly rewarding when I saw my own work being used in court or in front of clients.

To give a flavour of the kind of work you might see during pupillage at Littleton, the cases I worked on included a 2 week merits hearing in claims of workplace discrimination, a team move case in the High Court, a civil fraud claim involving parties in the UK, the US, Italy and China and a contractual dispute between a premier league footballer and his agent. Littleton pupils are on their feet once April comes around and so I also had my own matters by the end of pupillage. That was a little daunting at first, however, the clerks liaised closely with my pupil supervisors to make sure that the workload stayed manageable, and I received plenty of support and guidance where required.

Chambers really does want pupils to succeed. And whilst it is fair to say that the nine months leading up to the tenancy decision can be stressful, the process at Littleton is extremely well organised and transparent. I received careful and detailed feedback on every substantive piece of work that I did on pupillage. This not only helped me to improve but relieved the pressure of not knowing whether or not I was on the right track (which friends who did pupillage elsewhere described as one of the hardest parts of their year).

Finally, but importantly, Littleton is a very welcoming place and the level of support creates an atmosphere in which pupils and junior tenants are able to thrive. It is also very sociable. I transferred to the Bar after 5 years at a firm of solicitors and had been concerned that it might be a more solitary existence. Fortunately, this has not been my experience at Littleton.

"Members are always happy to help with both practical and legal questions and it is this sense of camaraderie that makes Littleton a great set to be a part of."
Bianca Balmelli
  • Year of Pupillage:
  • University:
    University of Pretoria
  • Degree subject:
    Law, majoring in accounting and financial management

I took a bit of an unusual route to becoming a barrister in that I am qualified as an advocate in South Africa and came over as a foreign qualified lawyer. I was apprehensive at the start of the pupillage about how I would fit in, but everyone at Littleton was very welcoming and that apprehension soon passed.

Although pupillage was a stressful time, with written and oral assessments being done throughout the first 9 months, the members of Chambers who marked the assessments gave comprehensive feedback and the assessments were marked using a grid format so that I could clearly see how the marks were allocated and where there was room for improvement. This helped me manage the stress of the upcoming tenancy decision (somewhat!). Having spoken to pupils at other sets, and heard about how pupillage was handled there, I am very happy that I was lucky enough to have done my pupillage at Littleton.
Having come from practice in South Africa one of the biggest pluses at Littleton, for me, was that during my second six I could take on my own work and get back on my feet in court. This work involved drafting witness statements and pleadings and attending preliminary hearings in the Employment Tribunal.

Like Alex, I also saw a balance of employment and commercial work, which are Chambers’ core practice areas. Additionally, I was also fortunate enough to be exposed to some sports law work – which is one of the areas I would like to develop my practice towards.

During pupillage (and after) the members are always happy to help with both practical and legal questions and it is this sense of camaraderie that makes Littleton a great set to be a part of. Additionally, Littleton has an amazing administrative team that makes all the admin headaches of pupillage and practice bearable.

If I had to pupillage again (heaven forbid!), I would definitely choose Littleton – I can’t give higher praise than that.

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