Why Coram Chambers?

At Coram, we are very proud of our pupillage system. Our focus during your pupillage year is support, training and learning: we believe that happy, encouraged pupils are the best kind. We want to give you an environment in which to thrive.

Over the past few years, our juniors have won the Family Law Awards: Young Barrister of the Year (2016, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021), Junior Barrister of the Year (2017, 2018, 2020 and 2022), Case of the Year (2020 and 2023) and Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year (2016 and 2017). In 2019 we won Family Law Chambers of the Year: London and in 2021, Family Law Clerking Team of the Year. To us, pupillage is vitally important, not only for our pupils and for chambers, but also in supporting the future of the Bar as a whole.

Our pupils receive practical and theoretical training at the highest level and of the highest quality. Our training is provided by members of chambers at all levels of seniority. We have designed a mock advocacy and written work scheme to take place throughout the year, preparing pupils before they ‘get on their feet’. Formal assessments do not start until you approach your second six, giving you plenty of time to get settled first into chambers’ life.

We have a mentoring scheme which ensures that legal, practical and pastoral issues or concerns can be raised and addressed appropriately. We will always ensure that our pupils are supported, and the ethos of chambers as an approachable and friendly set ensures that this is a reality. Each pupil also has the benefit of a ‘buddy’ (a very junior member of chambers) who will offer more informal support.

Pupils have three supervisors throughout the year and will experience the whole range of work undertaken in chambers. This ensures that pupils gain valuable knowledge and experience of leading cases, high-profile and sensitive work, with complicated legal and factual issues. These cases are often at the very forefront of legal developments. In the past few years, members have been briefed in leading cases in the UK Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, European Court of Human Rights and Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Members of chambers frequently give lectures and write both articles and books, including the Red Book, Hershman and McFarlane, and many others. Pupils are encouraged and supported to participate in and to undertake speaking or writing commitments of their own, guided by members of chambers who are leading authors of many of the best-known books in family law. Pupils and junior members are encouraged too to get involved more broadly in the functioning of the family justice system: we hold, amongst others, the roles of secretary to the President’s working groups on transparency, public children law, supervision orders and adoption. In short, even our junior barristers are involved in shaping law and policy for all.

Unlike many other family sets, a pupillage at Coram offers you a full grounding in the breadth of family law and opens up for you the potential of a junior tenancy in whichever area, or areas, you find most interesting and rewarding. It gives you the option of becoming a private finance practitioner, a specialist in private children or child abduction, or focussing on legally aided care proceedings (or, in many cases, a combination of all). Our view is that the more you see and learn, the better informed you will be to make the important decisions that shape your career and the more rounded a barrister you will become.

The tenancy decision is taken in late June or early July of your pupillage year. We aim to be as transparent as possible. No outcome should come as a surprise: we have mid-seat and end-of-seat discussions with you, where we talk about how it is going, your strengths, and any aspects that we think could be improved. Our hope is that you will remain at Coram and commence your tenancy with us. The whole year is geared towards that aim and ensuring that you meet the objective standard we set. We have a very high retention rate. As an example, over the past four years, each and every pupil has commenced tenancy at Coram. If, at the end of the year, we are not the right fit for you, or you for us, then we work hard to identify a third six or starter tenancy for you in another top set.

Curious to know what life is like for a Coram Chambers pupil? Please read Jake Walker, Srishti Suresh and Sam Watts’ recent blogs on “A week in the life of a Coram pupil.”

We also have produced a video, with some members of chambers talking about the work and life at Coram, which you can view here.

Pupillages Offered and the Pupillage Award

Each year, we offer two fully funded 12-month specialist family law pupillages with a first-six award of £36,000 that can be taken tax free. In addition, we guarantee pupils’ second-six earnings of £10,000. Pupils are entitled to retain any receipts above this. On commencing tenancy in chambers, your earnings are likely to increase significantly and quickly (on recent average: upwards of £100,000 within the first 2-3 years of tenancy).

The Application Process

We are not part of the Pupillage Gateway, but we follow the Pupillage Gateway timetable, available here.

The deadline for applications for a pupillage commencing in October 2025 has now passed.

At all stages of our process we shall make reasonable adjustments for any candidate who requires them. 

Equality and Diversity

Coram Chambers is committed to Equality & Diversity. You can download our Equality and Diversity Policy here.

The Written Application

The criteria that we look for are academic achievement, intellectual aptitude, work experience including an understanding of how such experience equips candidates with the skills necessary for life at the Bar, reasons given for applying to chambers and the answers given to a short essay question. Each answer or box on the form attracts a set number of marks.

The application form is marked out of a total of 35. The marks are apportioned as follows:

Every application form is made ‘blind’ (that is to say, the identifying information is removed), and then separately marked by two members of chambers of differing seniority, experience and background.

The top (approximately) 14 candidates are invited to interview. That process is competitive. In recent years, candidates have needed to receive at least 30/35 on the written form.

Save for in exceptional circumstances, candidates who did not obtain at least a 2:1 at undergraduate level will not be considered. We do have a scheme of automatic interview for exceptional or extenuating circumstances where we feel that assessing on the written form alone would cause a candidate unfairness.

There is no need to have completed a mini-pupillage with us.

The Interview

We care very much about fair recruitment. Our process, whilst challenging and demanding, intends to help you feel comfortable and to give you the best possible chance to shine. The interview structure is the same for every candidate and so, in accordance with fair recruitment principles, we don’t ask you any assessed ‘personal’ questions on your application form, hobbies, likes and dislikes, favourite book, et cetera.  

The first round will be a short interview. You will be interviewed by three or four members of chambers of different seniority and practices. To settle you in, we will ask you a warm-up question that is not marked (this will come from your application form), before asking you a number of formal, assessed questions. Each question is likely to have follow-up questions that may require you to think more deeply and to reason through your answer.

The second is a lengthier interview, lasting approximately 25 minutes. You are asked to arrive a little in advance and are given some legal documents to look at. You will be interviewed by five members of chambers of different seniority and practices. During the interview we will ask you a warm-up question that is not assessed, before asking you a number of formal, assessed questions. Again, each question is likely to have challenging follow-up questions.

At each interview round, we are looking for you to show us the following key skills and every answer is marked on those same criteria:

The two successful candidates will be notified in accordance with the Pupillage Gateway timetable.

If you have any other questions about pupillage or about life at Coram Chambers please get in touch by emailing our Administrator, Ginny Wilson, at pupillage@coramchambers.co.uk.