Recruitment

Applications for pupillage are via the Pupillage Gateway. Please see the information under the headings below.

Any vacancies for established practitioners or third six pupils will be advertised here.

 

Pupillage

Pupillage

5RB is the leading set specialising in all areas of media and communications law, including defamation, privacy, breach of confidence, data protection and information law, harassment, contempt of court and reporting restrictions. We are the only chambers to specialise exclusively in this fascinating area. Our 35 full-time members act for both claimants and defendants and provide advice and representation to the press, television, radio, books and online publishers, as well as to celebrities and other individuals, businesses and not-for-profit entities.

Our members are regularly instructed in the most high-profile and groundbreaking cases, recent examples of which include the Johnny Depp libel trial, the Duchess of Sussex’s privacy and copyright claim, the litigation concerning the book ‘Putin’s People’, the Morrisons data breach, the ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel claim, the ongoing phone hacking litigation, and the Supreme Court decisions on serious harm to reputation (Lachaux v Independent & Evening Standard) and the public interest defence to defamation (Serafin v Malkiewicz). Several former members of 5RB have gone on to successful careers on the Bench, including the inaugural Judge in charge of the Media & Communications List, Warby J (now Warby LJ); the current Judge in charge of that List, Nicklin J; HHJ Parkes QC; and former media law judges Sir Charles Gray and Sir Michael Tugendhat.

We are seeking to recruit up to 2 pupils, with a view to tenancy, starting in October 2023. Applicants will be expected to demonstrate very high intellectual ability, usually via academic achievement, and excellent interpersonal and advocacy skills (written and oral). We look for applicants with an aptitude for, and an interest in, practice as a barrister in our specialist areas; however prior knowledge of the law in these areas is not a requirement.

Pupils at 5RB benefit from spending periods with four different pupil supervisors, seeing a variety of styles and perspectives and receiving expert tuition in practice in media and communications law, including advocacy. We are proud of maintaining a very friendly and collegiate atmosphere, and that extends to how we interact with our pupils: we see pupillage very much as a learning experience rather than a gruelling examination, although pupils will need to demonstrate the high level of skills and conduct necessary for a successful practice if they are to be taken on as a tenant. The vast majority of our pupils in the past decade have been recruited as tenants (12/14), and we hope and expect that that will continue.

The pupillages will carry an award of £40,000. A new tenant can expect their first-year earnings to significantly exceed this level.

We are a member of the Pupillage Gateway (www.pupillagegateway.com) and all applications for pupillage must be made via the Gateway. Applicants should consult the Pupillage Gateway website for full details of the scheme and the pupillages on offer.

For further information on pupillage at 5RB, please see the further information on our Recruitment pages, and our Pupillage Policy.

Mini-pupillage

Mini-pupillage

5RB usually runs three mini-pupillage programmes each year. On these programmes we accept up to 6 mini-pupils for 2 days. During the 2 days you will have the opportunity to attend court hearings involving members of 5RB, to learn about our work, and to meet various members of Chambers.

In person programmes have been postponed until further notice. A remote programme will take place in late 2021 or early 2022. Please do apply if you are interested in attending our next available programme.

Applications for mini-pupillage at 5RB must be made using Chambers’ mini-pupillage application form.

Here is a link to a pdf version of the application form.

Please email your completed form to mini-pupillage@5rb.com.

If you would like any further information about our mini-pupillage programme, please contact Chambers by telephone on 020 7242 2902, by email at mini-pupillage@5rb.com, or by letter to 5RB.

Tenancy

Tenancy

5RB seeks primarily to recruit tenants from our pupils. 12 of our last 14 pupils have successfully become tenants. We apply a very favourable rent regime for new tenants.

We are not currently inviting applications for tenancy from other practitioners. 

Pupillage Committee and Pupil Supervisors

The Pupillage Committee

The Pupillage Committee is made up of several members of 5RB intended to represent a spread of seniority across the set. Members of the Committee are responsible for conducting the pupillage application process and interviews.

The current members of the Committee are as follows:

Pupil Supervisors

Those members who are currently act as Pupil Supervisors at 5RB are:

Points to note

Recruitment

Equal Opportunities

5RB is committed to diversity and to equal opportunities for all, irrespective of race, colour, creed, ethnic or national origins, sexuality or gender, marital status, disability or age. We welcome applications from all backgrounds. 5RB is committed to and has implemented the Bar’s Equality Code.

Closing Dates

It is important that you take careful note of any closing date that applies to an application. Save in exceptional circumstances, we will not accept applications received after this date. If you anticipate problems in complying with the deadline, please contact our Administrator before the deadline expires.

Interview Arrangements

If you have any particular requirements in respect of your needs at interview (e.g. sign interpretation, wheelchair access etc.) or regarding the scheduling of your interview, please include details in your application or let us know separately. We will do everything we can to accommodate your requests.

Data Protection

We comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 and UK GDPR. Information derived from application forms/CVs/the recruitment process will be used for recruitment purposes only and will not be passed to any other organisation.

Frequently asked questions

Recruitment – FAQs

Is any prior experience of media law required?

No. It is not necessary for you to have a law degree, still less for you to have studied law relevant to our practice areas. However, any relevant interest or experience you can demonstrate will certainly be considered.

Do I need to do a mini-pupillage at 5RB before applying for pupillage?

No, particularly not in the current circumstances. Our mini-pupillage programme has never been a requirement; it is not assessed. Of course, one of the factors we consider in the application process is the degree to which an applicant has demonstrated in interest in and aptitude for our areas of work which can, of course, include having completed a mini-pupillage with us. A mini-pupillage can really help you in ascertaining whether you would enjoy working in any particular chambers. We recommend that you apply for a mini-pupillage wherever you are thinking about applying for pupillage.

Can I make a deferred application for pupillage?

We do not encourage such applications. It is difficult for us to make decisions about recruitment so far in advance, particularly when this decision has necessarily to be made without the benefit of seeing the full range of potential applicants for the relevant places. If you consider that there are special reasons why you need to make a deferred application, we would encourage you to contact us before submitting your application.

Do I need a first or a 2:1?

Competition for pupillages at 5RB is fierce. Ordinarily we would expect a 2:1 degree or better. However, a candidate’s performance at degree level is just one of the factors that we consider. We do not screen out applicants that do not have a 2:1 or first, but we do encourage applicants to be realistic about their prospects if they have a poor academic background, and we would expect a convincing explanation as to why an applicant with the necessary intellectual ability did not achieve such a result.

What is pupillage at 5RB like?

You can expect to spend your 12-months broken up into four 3-month periods with different pupil supervisors. During the first six months you will spend most of your time working for your own pupil supervisor, although in the second six we will encourage you to do work with and for other members of 5RB. You will gain a unique insight into practice at the highest level, and will be given expert tuition in practice in our specialist areas, including drafting and advocacy. Your work will be regularly reviewed by your pupil supervisor and guidance and feedback provided. During your pupillage it is likely that there will be a number of in-house training seminars, as well as opportunities for you to broaden your experience by spending time at the in-house legal departments of national newspapers and broadcasters. For further details please see our Pupillage Policy and the ‘Meet our Pupils’ section below.

What opportunity will there be for me to get advocacy experience in my 2nd six-months?

Very limited. The nature of our work means that advocacy opportunities for pupils are rare. The focus of pupillage throughout the 12 months is on learning about practice in our particular highly specialist areas. However, 5RB has strong links with Islington Legal Advice Centre, which can offer pupils in their 2nd-six the opportunity to provide pro bono advocacy. In addition, we actively supports pupils volunteering for FRU.

Meet our pupils

For an insight into pupillage at 5RB, we asked Gemma McNeil-Walsh (left) and Hope Williams (right), our current pupils, a few questions:

Where did you go to university and what did you study?

HW: I studied a Bachelor of Arts (History) and Bachelor of Laws at the University of Sydney, Australia. My undergraduate thesis charted the rise of ‘new true crime’ podcasts and the impact of contempt law on their viability in Australia. I moved to the UK to study a Cambridge LLM, where I wrote a thesis on political criticism of the judiciary and the constitutional protection of speech in the UK, US and Australia.

GMW: I did my undergraduate degree in Development Studies and Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London and then studied for a Masters in the Social Science of the Internet at the Oxford Internet Institute. Following that I completed the law conversion course at BPP Law School and the Bar training course at the City Law School in London.

Why did you choose 5RB? 

GMW: My academic and career interests have always been in media and privacy – so as the leading set in this area of law, 5RB was a clear choice. When you scroll through the website and see the sheer number of topical and leading cases that members of 5RB have worked on, you cannot help but be inspired.

Prior to applying I did a two-day mini pupillage in Chambers. Everybody was welcoming and down-to-earth, which confirmed that I wanted to start my legal career at 5RB.

HW: I wanted to join a set with expertise in both traditional media work and growing areas of practice such as data protection. I was particularly drawn to 5RB’s record advising on human rights issues related to media and privacy, including landmark Article 10 litigation.

What’s the best thing about pupillage? 

HW: Being exposed to my supervisor’s busy practice, and learning from watching his interactions with judges, clients, and professional clients. I feel fortunate that in just 3 months, I have already had invaluable opportunities to observe and work on matters that span multiple causes of action, and are at various different stages of the litigation process.

I have particularly enjoyed the challenge of applying areas of media law that I have previously studied in academic settings to real-life disputes. One example is the GDPR, which often felt nebulous when I was reading about it at University. Observing the way that my supervisor interprets and applies the GDPR in his cases has given me a new practical perspective on how this tricky area of law operates.

GMW: You feel ‘in the thick of it’ from the beginning. As a student, you will have read plenty of judgments and legal textbooks and hopefully you will have had the opportunity to see a case in court. But pupillage is a real behind-the-scenes insight into how a case comes together and how a barrister works on a day-to-day basis. The work that 5RB does is often in the news and the area of law itself is dynamic and evolving, so it is an exciting environment to work in; almost every day there is a new legal development to discuss and think about.

What’s the worst? 

GMW: It is always nerve-racking handing in a piece of work to my pupil supervisor or to another member of chambers, but that is part and parcel of the learning process. I am told that these nerves never go away, so I suppose I had better get used to it!

HW: Unfortunately, the start of my pupillage has coincided with London’s second lockdown. However, technology has smoothed the transition – I have Zoomed into court hearings, dialled into client conferences with my pupil supervisor, and caught up with members of Chambers for “virtual coffees”!

Was pupillage what you were expecting? 

HW: A common misconception about pupillage is that you will simply sit in silence and watch your supervisor working. I have been pleasantly surprised by how “hands on” the pupillage experience has been so far. Of course, there is an enormous amount to be learned from observing, especially in hearings or in conferences with clients. However, I have found pupillage to be incredibly practical. From day one, I have been encouraged to roll up my sleeves and draft letters, pleadings and skeleton arguments. I also enjoy discussing cases with my supervisor, and learning about the various legal, strategic and evidential considerations at play.

GMW: I am sure that pupillage has been different for everybody this year given the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. 5RB have been fantastic in ensuring that I get as close to a ‘normal’ pupillage experience as possible and I am grateful for that. Prior to starting pupillage, I had several introductory calls with my supervisor and other members of chambers, so by the time I started I felt fully prepared.

It is strange to think that when I applied for pupillage, ‘hybrid’ and ‘remote’ hearings were discussed as a thing of the future – and now they are the norm. In my first few months of pupillage I have observed a range of in-person, hybrid and fully-remote hearings, which has all been invaluable experience.

What advice would you give to potential applicants? 

GMW: In terms of preparing to make an application, I would recommend taking advantage of opportunities afforded by your law school and your Inn. For example, through my Inn I shadowed a judge in the Queen’s Bench Division and I was involved in several mooting competitions. I would also recommend keeping up to date with legal news in the field of media and privacy law. The 5RB website, Inforrm’s Blog and Times Law are all good starting points.

In approaching the application form itself, one of the best pieces of advice I was given was to think of the pupillage application as a piece of written advocacy. It is not just what you write on the application that is important; but also how you write it. You don’t need to use fancy ‘legal’ language. You just need to explain as clearly and directly as possible why you are well suited to a career at the Bar and to this area of law.

HW: Think about what interests you in the media law space, and be prepared to speak knowledgeably on issues relevant to 5RB’s field of practice. Beyond the 5RB website, sources like Inforrm and the Media Law Podcast are great places to start.