Recruitment

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

Given the specialist nature of our set, 5RB has a policy of organic growth, but we are always interested to hear from experienced practitioners of appropriate calibre who feel their practice would add to and complement Chambers’ areas of expertise. Any enquiry or application should be made via Andrew Love (Senior Clerk) on 020 7692 6004 or andrewlove@5rb.com

All enquiries/applications will, of course, be treated in strict confidence.

As with those completing pupillage at 5RB, decisions on whether to admit an applicant as a member of Chambers are taken by a vote of all members.

We encourage applications from people from all sections of society regardless of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief or age.

 

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 field. Our 35 full-time members act for both claimants and defendants and provide advice and representation to the press, television, radio, book and online publishers, as well as to individuals including celebrities and other high-profile people, businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

Our members are regularly instructed in the most prominent and groundbreaking cases, recent examples of which include Sir James Dyson’s libel claim against Mirror Group over allegations of behaving hypocritically in the context of Brexit, the Laurence Fox Twitter trial, the Duke of Sussex’s privacy claims relating to the alleged hacking of his phone, Arron Banks’s libel claim against Carole Cadwalldr over his alleged financial ties to Russia, the ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel case, the Duchess of Sussex’s privacy and copyright claim against Associated, the litigation concerning the ‘Putin’s People’ book, the Johnny Depp libel trial and the Cliff Richard privacy case against the BBC. In the last few years, members have represented parties on appeals to the Supreme Court relating to abuse of process in the context of libel (Mueen-Uddin v Secretary of State for the Home Dept), the correct interpretation of s.3 of the Defamation Act 1952 in malicious falsehood cases (George v Cannell), the privacy of residents of apartments in the vicinity of the Tate Modern art gallery (Fearn v Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery), serious harm to reputation (Lachaux v Independent Print Ltd), the public interest defence in defamation (Serafin v Malkiewicz), the reasonable expectation of privacy in information about criminal investigations (ZXC v Bloomberg LP) and vicarious liability in data protection law (WM Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants), as well as in many cases in the Court of Appeal. Several former members of 5RB have gone on to have successful judicial careers.

We are seeking to recruit up to 2 pupils to start in October 2025, each with a view to tenancy.  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, and we very much hope and expect that this will continue.

The pupillages will carry an award of £50,000. A new tenant can expect their first year earnings to significantly exceed this level.

All applications for pupillage must be made via the Pupillage Gateway, which closes on 7 February 2024.

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.  These are normally held in June, October and December.  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 members of Chambers.

We no longer run remote mini-pupillage programmes.

If you wish to apply for the October 2024 mini-pupillage programme, please apply by 1 September 2024 using the form available at the links below.

5RB strongly believes and is committed to ensuring that students from all backgrounds should be able to undertake mini-pupillage with us at the minimum expense to themselves.  We aim to improve access to the Bar for all.  We will assist successful applicants by making a contribution to reasonable accommodation and travel expenses, if needed, on application following attendance at a mini-pupillage programme.  Decisions on needed grants are made separately from the decision on whether an applicant is invited to attend mini-pupillage.

Applications for mini-pupillage at 5RB must be made using Chambers’ mini-pupillage application form. A Word version is available here (right-click and “save link as”):

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.

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, pupils will be given advocacy assessments focusing on 5RB’s main areas of work and junior members can expect to appear in both the County Courts and High Court in their early years of practice.

Meet our pupils

For an insight into pupillage at 5RB, we asked Katya Pereira and Hector Penny, our current pupils, a few questions:

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

Katya: For my undergraduate degree I studied History of Art at the University of Edinburgh, and for my Masters I studied History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art. After a period of working in the art world, I went on to study the GDL at City and the Bar Course at the Inns of Court College of Advocacy.

Hector: I went to Oxford and studied classics, and later did a LLM at LSE.

Why did you choose 5RB? 

Katya: I chose 5RB for three primary reasons. First, I want to practise in media and communications law and, given that 5RB is the leading set in this field, it was the obvious choice. Further, I am interested in working in developing areas of law, and so I was particularly drawn to the fact that 5RB is at the cutting-edge of developing the law in areas such as data protection and social media. Second, the fact that 5RB offers the opportunity to do a mix of claimant and defendant work was an important factor, as I was keen to be in a set which would give me a rounded training during pupillage and my junior years. Finally, I chose 5RB because it has a genuinely collegiate atmosphere and places great emphasis on the training and the development of its pupils. This was made apparent to me during my mini-pupillage.

Hector: The main decision I made was to go into media law. After that, 5RB was an obvious choice as the only uniquely specialist chambers in this area. I did a mini-pupillage at 5RB before I applied, and the barristers I met (remotely – during Covid) seemed happy and passionate about what they were doing. I looked up some cases members had recently worked on, and thought they had really interesting practices, which I wanted too.

What one thing prepared you best for pupillage?

Katya: During the period between completing the Bar Course and starting pupillage, I worked for nine months as a paralegal at a leading media law firm in the civil litigation team. This was invaluable in preparing me for pupillage in many respects. In particular, it gave me exposure to all aspects of the litigation process in media and communications matters and developed my practical understanding of the legal principles in this specialist field.

Hector: I worked for a year at a firm of solicitors specialising in media law. I learned some useful law and procedure, and got an insight into what solicitors want from barristers.

What other preparation would have been useful?

Katya: The High Court and the Court of Appeal run a judicial assistant scheme every year. I think this would be particularly useful preparation for pupillage in that it provides a rare opportunity to be exposed to a broad range of case law and to observe many different advocacy styles. Pro bono work is also a great, often rewarding, way to keep up and hone your written and oral advocacy skills, especially if you have a significant break between receiving your offer and starting pupillage.

Hector: I think one could learn a lot by going to court and watching some media law hearings and trials. There aren’t many media law trials, but hearings happen quite often (and usually in the same couple of court rooms at the RCJ). They show you the sharp end of a barrister’s work life, and so a kind of target to aim for.

What’s the best thing about pupillage? 

Katya: The best thing about pupillage at 5RB is that you are trained by barristers who are leaders in their field. As a result, the training you receive is of an exceptional standard and the cases that you get to be involved in are both high-level and interesting.

Hector: Learning fast, and trying new things with a safety net, is a lot of fun. I haven’t done most of what I am asked to do before, but have been given time to read cases, think hard, and produce work at a pace where I can do my best. Stretching yourself and getting thorough feedback certainly makes your brain feel alive – but without the pressure of producing work directly for clients.

What’s the worst?

Katya: Pupillage, often referred to as ‘the year-long interview’, can be an intense and daunting experience. That being said, 5RB makes a conscious effort to ensure that the process is as transparent and manageable as possible, which makes a big difference.

Hector: It’s challenging working in awareness of a tenancy decision at the end of pupillage. But lots of jobs put you under pressure, so it’s hardly unique in that way, and useful and friendly feedback helps.

Is pupillage what you were expecting?

Katya: 5RB is very transparent about the format of pupillage during the application process, so in many respects it is what I was expecting. One aspect that has been unexpected though is the collective effort that members of Chambers make to ensure that pupils get to go along to as many hearings and trials as possible. This has enabled me to become more familiar with the court processes and has provided an invaluable opportunity to learn through observing the range of different advocacy styles of members of Chambers.

Hector: I was pleasantly surprised at how soon I was asked to start drafting pleadings and notes of advice, and the variety of work members of chambers (and therefore pupils) are doing. I also hadn’t appreciated that members are really trying to train and prepare you: members make a real effort to give you interesting work, and not the more boring tasks just because they need doing. Otherwise it’s more or less as expected. Your work is largely independent, as you might imagine, but there are always people around for a chat or if you need help.

What advice would you give to potential applicants?

Katya: 5RB is a specialist set, and so it is important to be able to demonstrate that you have a real interest in media and communications law. This can be shown in a myriad of ways, but if you are new to this area of law a good place to start is to familiarise yourself by reading recent relevant judgments (which are often summarised on the 5RB website) and commentary. Blogs such as Inforrm are also particularly helpful, and there are some great podcasts out there such as the Media Law Podcast and the Better Human Podcast which can provide a welcome break from your work and studies. Advocacy, both written and oral, is a key part of the application process. Therefore, I would advise getting involved in as many opportunities as possible to really develop and hone those skills such as mooting or volunteering with the Free Representation Unit. As a final point, applying for pupillage can often feel daunting and somewhat isolating. It’s therefore really important to ensure that you strike the right balance between your studies/work, applications and life outside the world of law. Your peers on the GDL and Bar Course can also provide an invaluable support network as they understand exactly what you are going through.

Hector: Media law is a specialist area, and so making sure you can properly demonstrate an interest in it is important. Generally, reading cases is a great way to understand areas of law less familiar. They mostly have a narrative you can follow, which is much easier than trying to read a textbook, and following up on points you don’t understand in them can lead down interesting paths. Good judgments are clear, well-expressed, and often persuasive, and so can also be good models for your writing (including in applications). Finally, try to take the requirements and instructions chambers give you at face value. If they say they do or don’t expect something, or that you should spend X amount of time on something, believe them. You can go mad trying to second guess, and there is enough stress in applications without it.