Applications: FAQs


How many pupillage places are available each year?

One Essex Court offers up to five commercial pupillages and one intellectual property pupillage.

How do I apply for pupillage?

One Essex Court participates in the “Pupillage Gateway” system.  Through this online system, you may apply using a single application form to up to twenty sets of chambers or other pupillage providers.

Each chambers may ask you to answer chambers-specific questions.  One Essex Court asks several such questions, including one which asks you to write a mini-essay of up to 400 words. This is intended as an opportunity for you to demonstrate your skills in written argument.

Candidates who are exempt from Pupillage Gateway may apply by contacting the Secretary to the Pupillage Committee, who will invite them to complete a form equivalent to that required by the Pupillage Gateway.

What is the selection procedure?

The first stage involves a careful review of your application form by three members of chambers, each of whom makes an independent assessment, by reference to the selection criteria, to decide whether you should be offered an interview.

The second stage, for those who are selected, is the interview, by a panel which will include members of chambers of different seniority and typically also a member of the clerking team. You will be given a legal problem question to consider within a set period of time. 

For commercial pupillage, there are normally two rounds of interview.  For intellectual property pupillage, there is normally one round of interview.   Please see under “What should I expect at interview?” for further information.

Offers of pupillage are made to successful candidates on the basis of their application form alongside their performance at interview (both rounds, in the case of commercial applicants).

By what criteria does One Essex Court select pupils?

Applications are assessed by objective criteria and in line with Chambers' Equality and Diversity Policy

Our selection criteria are as follows: 

  • Intellectual excellence: practitioners are required to absorb large quantities of complex factual information speedily, to identify relevant issues of fact and law, and to analyse complex legal arguments;
  • Presentational ability: excellence in discussing and presenting complex and extensive issues of fact and law both on paper and orally with clarity, economy and persuasiveness;
  • A knowledge of the law appropriate to the level of legal education and experience of the candidate;
  • Practicality, maturity and common sense: practitioners are required to give practical advice, not engage in legal theory;
  • Motivation; practitioners require high levels of drive and determination;
  • Courage and independence of mind: practitioners may be required to tell clients and courts things they do not want to hear;
  • A reasonably unflappable temperament: practitioners need to gain and retain the confidence of colleagues and of professional and lay clients;
  • An ability to get on with other people;
  • The applicant’s likely ability to build and maintain a successful practice at the commercial bar.

One of the criteria is intellectual excellence, usually demonstrated by having obtained (or expecting to obtain) a first class degree, or equivalent. In practice, One Essex Court receives more applications from candidates with first class degrees than we have interview places and, accordingly, a first class degree does not in itself guarantee an invitation to interview.

How many pupillage applications does One Essex Court receive?

We typically receive between 170 and 200 applications for pupillage each year.

How many candidates are interviewed for pupillage?

For commercial pupillage, we usually conduct first-round interviews of about 40 candidates and second-round interviews of about 10 candidates.

For intellectual property pupillage, we usually conduct interviews of about 7 candidates.

What is the timetable for the selection procedure?

As soon as the Pupillage Gateway closes, we will email all candidates and ask them to complete a brief questionnaire in a short timeframe.  Completion of the questionnaire is voluntary. The information supplied is provided to a company called Rare which helps One Essex Court to put candidates’ academic results into context, where possible, in particular regarding any socio-economic, personal or educational disadvantage to which a candidate may have been subject.

When we have reviewed all applications, we contact all candidates, either to invite them to interview or to inform them that their application has been unsuccessful.

For commercial pupillage, interviews are usually conducted from mid-March to early April.  For intellectual property pupillage, interviews are usually conducted in mid-March.  We aim to give candidates at least seven days’ notice and to offer them a choice of date.

What should I expect at interview?

After welcoming you, the chairperson of the panel, will invite you to give an oral presentation of your analysis of the problem question.  This is not a role play exercise: you are not expected to pretend to be a lawyer advising a client; instead you should explain to the panel how you analyse the problem and what your views are as to the best course of action. 

You will be asked to respond during your presentation to questions from the panel about your analysis.  They will want to understand more about how you are approaching the problem; they are not trying to catch you out.  You should feel free to take a moment to consider the question or, if you do not understand, to ask for it to be repeated or rephrased.  The interview panel want to see your best performance and will try to offer you the opportunity to give it.

In the first-round commercial pupillage interview, the problem will typically involve the interpretation of a fictional statute, regulation or other set of rules.  An example of such a problem can be found here.  This example is provided in order to give you some idea of what to expect. The actual problem questions used at interview will differ. In the second round, the problem typically involves the application of basic principles of contract law in a commercial context (a contract law textbook will be provided so that you may consult it, if you wish).   

The intellectual property pupillage interview problem involves the application of basic legal principles in the intellectual property context.

There is not a single, correct way of approaching or answering the problem question.  Rather, it is intended as a vehicle for you to demonstrate to the panel your intellectual abilities and presentation skills. 

The problem question is not intended to be a test of your recollection of the law and you are not expected to cite case-law or statutes in your answer. We recognise that some candidates may have completed their formal legal studies some time ago while others (particularly current GDL students) may be at a relatively early stage of their legal education. The problem question is intended to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your skills regardless of the stage which you have reached.

Towards the end of the interview, you may be asked questions arising from your application form, and you will have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have (but please do not feel that you are expected to ask questions for their own sake).

How do I prepare for an interview?

You do not need to prepare for an interview at One Essex Court.  However, you may feel more confident if you have reviewed the example problem question provided above and, in the case of a second-round interview, reminded yourself of the basic principles of contract law.

What type of person is One Essex Court looking to recruit?

One Essex Court is not looking for any “type” of person; we are simply looking for the most able candidates according to our selection criteria.

Chambers has grown and thrived by recruiting on the basis of merit alone.  One Essex Court has a long history of offering pupillage and tenancy to individuals from a wide range of backgrounds; for many members worried that they might not “fit in” elsewhere at the bar, One Essex Court was a natural choice. 

One Essex Court is committed to affording equality of opportunity to all applicants.  Chambers encourages and welcomes applications from women, people of minority ethnic origin, people with disabilities, LGBT+ people, and other groups under-represented at the commercial Bar.

Moreover, we routinely welcome as members of One Essex Court individuals who have not followed a typical career path to the commercial bar, including mature applicants, applicants from overseas and applicants without a law degree.

How far in advance of starting pupillage should I apply?

Pupillages start in October.  Apply in January/ February of the year before the year in which you want to begin pupillage (e.g. for pupillage in October 2022, apply in early 2021).  Check the Pupillage Gateway website for the application deadline.

Does One Essex Court offer deferred pupillages?

Yes.  Consideration is given to requests for pupillage to be deferred by one year.

Are students without a law degree at a disadvantage?

No.  We welcome applications from candidates who are studying for or who have completed a GDL.  Our selection process is designed to ensure that such candidates are not at a disadvantage.  A significant proportion of members of One Essex Court have the GDL (or its equivalent) rather than a law degree.

Does One Essex Court require candidates to undertake a mini-pupillage?

No.  We do not have assessed mini-pupillages.  However, a mini-pupillage is a good opportunity to find out more about what we do.  More information is here.

I have a disability.  Can I apply to One Essex Court?

Yes.  We welcome applications from all candidates, including candidates with a disability.   If you are invited to interview, you will be asked whether you need us to make any reasonable adjustments and we will discuss with you how we can accommodate your needs. 

In the past, for example, we have made adjustments for candidates with dyslexia (who may need more time to prepare), with impaired sight (who may need the problem question in electronic format so that it can be read to them) and with impaired mobility (who may need assistance with access).

Disabled applicants who would like to discuss in advance reasonable adjustments to the application process are welcome to contact the Secretary to the Pupillage Committee here.