The journey to pupillage

First class honours student Cara Hall talks through her journey

What have you been doing since you left Kent?

I have had various jobs since I graduated, each of which played an important part in my route to the Bar. For the past three years, I have worked as a Housing Caseworker at Citizens Advice Shepway. I work under a Legal Aid contract and assist vulnerable clients with possession proceedings, homelessness, and disrepair, among other things. I frequently undertake court advocacy in this role, which I feel played an important part in successfully securing pupillage.

I also come back to the University all the time to help judge mooting competitions, including the KLS Thomson Reuters Triathlon!

Tell us about the pupillage offer / tenancy you have recently received?

I will be commencing pupillage at Doughty Street Chambers in October 2023, which was offered to me in May 2022. This is a pupillage specialising in housing law, so I can continue to do the work that I enjoy. I am very much looking forward to getting started in October.

Can you explain how your time at KLS contributed to your recent successes?

I did lots of mooting at university which confirmed that I wished to pursue a career at the Bar and that I enjoy both written and oral advocacy. There are amazing mooting opportunities at the University of Kent, and I was lucky enough to take part in the Law Association for Asia and the Pacific (LAWASIA) International Mooting Competition in Japan while I was there. I always found the internal moots to be the most fun, and there is broad scope to moot in your area of interest – I did numerous land law moots while I was at university.

I also think the structure of the course and the broad range of module choices enabled me to study what I found interesting and to sit my modules in a way that enabled me to secure the best degree classification I could – for example, in my final year, I chose to do numerous long essays instead of exams. One of the modules I chose to study in my final year was Homelessness Law and Policy, and this forms part of my practice now.

Finally, the employability team at Kent were wonderful at sharing opportunities with the students which helped me undertake work experience that went on to inform my career choice.

Do you have any advice for anyone considering studying law / already studying at KLS / applying for the Bar course or pupillage?

My advice to anyone considering studying law is to do so at the University of Kent – there is a vast range of module choices which enables you to choose to write about what you find interesting, and this will enable you to get the best grade you can.

To anyone already studying at Kent Law School, take advantage of all the opportunities that KLS has to offer. If you are interested in the Bar, take part in some moots as not only are they good experience, but they are also extremely fun! I would also suggest that you choose to study modules that you find interesting, rather than modules you feel you should study, as this will enable you to secure the best degree classification that you can.

To anyone applying for the Bar Course, I would encourage you to consider studying it part-time. It was difficult, but it enabled me to work while studying and secure experience that was vital to a successful pupillage application.

To anyone applying for pupillage, there are so many resources available now to help you with the process. One that I particularly found helpful was Middle Temple’s mentorship scheme, and their mock interview scheme.

To anyone who applied for pupillage and was unsuccessful, keep believing in yourself, and use the year before the next round of applications to self-reflect. Reflect on any weaknesses in your application and undertake work and activities to fill any gaps – if there was an application question that you struggled to answer, think about what you can do this year so that you have an answer for that question. Don’t see the year long wait as a gap to fill but an opportunity to undertake work that you enjoy, and which will simultaneously improve your application for next year. I feel that having a job where I undertake court advocacy in my practice area of interest on a weekly basis really changed the game for me.

If you had some first round interviews this year but did not get any further, use this year to have as many mock interviews as possible. Middle Temple offers mock interviews, as do many other schemes such as Her Bar.