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 detailed below.
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 33 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 the ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel case the Duchess of Sussex’s privacy and copyright claim, the Duke of Sussex’s libel claim about his security arrangements, the litigation concerning the ‘Putin’s People’ book, the Johnny Depp libel case, the Cliff Richard privacy case and the ongoing phone hacking litigation. In the last few years, members have represented parties on appeals to the Supreme Court relating to serious harm to reputation (Lachaux v Independent Print Ltd), the public interest defence in defamation (Serafin v Malkiewicz), vicarious liability in data protection law (WM Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants) and the reasonable expectation of privacy in information about criminal investigations (ZXC v Bloomberg LP), as well as in many cases in the Court of Appeal. Several former members of 5RB have gone on to successful judicial careers.
We are seeking to recruit up to 2 pupils to start in October 2024, 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 (12/15) and we very much hope and expect that this 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.
All applications for pupillage must be made via the Pupillage Gateway, which closes on 8 February 2023.
For further information on pupillage at 5RB, please see the further information on our Recruitment pages, and our Pupillage Policy.
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 June 2023 mini-pupillage programme please apply by 19 May 2023, 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 therefore offer all mini-pupils, if needed, a grant of up to £100 to reimburse reasonable accommodation and travel expenses. Decisions on 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”):
Word version of 5RB mini-pupillage application 2023
Please email your completed form to email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or by letter to 5RB.
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:
Those members who are currently act as Pupil Supervisors at 5RB are:
Points to note
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.
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.
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.
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 pupil
For an insight into pupillage at 5RB, we asked Hannah Gilliland, one of our current pupils, a few questions:
Where did you go to university and what did you study?
I went to the University of Cambridge where I studied Human, Social, and Political Sciences. Following this I studied the GDL and the BVS at City, University of London.
Why did you choose 5RB?
I chose 5RB because it is the preeminent media and communications set. When looking at the 5RB website, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the interesting subject matter and the breadth of cases that 5RB has worked on. Since starting pupillage, this variety and interesting subject matter has been confirmed.
Media law is also an area of the law that is constantly changing and evolving. The proposed implementation of the Online Safety Bill is just one example of how the law may change in the years to come. When applying for pupillage, I was keen to work in an area which will continually challenge me and about which there is always more to learn.
Finally, I chose 5RB because of my experience on the mini-pupillage. It is an important consideration when applying for pupillage to choose sets where the people are welcoming. The mini-pupillage was a good opportunity to meet members of 5RB and confirmed the friendly and open chambers environment which I have since experienced during pupillage.
What one thing prepared you best for pupillage?
In the gap between finishing my studies and starting pupillage, I worked for ten months as a paralegal at a leading media law firm. This was an invaluable experience for me. The difference between studying law in textbooks and the practical reality of civil litigation is vast, and I am grateful for the skills and litigation experience I gained before commencing pupillage.
What other preparation would have been useful?
When preparing to begin pupillage any relevant work experience would be useful. Working at the Law Commission or as a Judicial Assistant would be beneficial as would, in the case of 5RB, any time spent at newspapers or broadcasters.
Other (less time-consuming) preparation includes setting up legal alerts from Westlaw linked to the area of law you are interested in and subscribing to relevant legal blogs.
What’s the best thing about pupillage?
The best thing about pupillage is the opportunity to learn from the best people in this area of law. The quality of legal training is unparalleled, and I am particularly grateful for the time my pupil supervisor puts in to giving me detailed feedback on my work. This is helping me to improve the quality of my legal work greatly.
What’s the worst?
Pupillage is an inherently stressful time by its nature. This pressure has been somewhat alleviated by the well-structured pupillage at 5RB. Periodic reviews and regular feedback ensure the process is transparent.
Was pupillage what you were expecting?
Yes, in many ways it has been. One thing I wasn’t expecting, however, was how much time I would spend in court. Within my first month, I have attended a High Court preliminary trial, a High Court trial, a Master’s hearing, and even an appeal in the Court of Appeal. It has been brilliant to watch oral advocacy in action.
Further, although Covid has had a lasting impact on many barristers’ attitudes towards working from home, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there have been informal drinks in Chambers every Friday evening as well as various other social events organised at 5RB. I have appreciated being able to meet members of Chambers in a relaxed and friendly setting.
What advice would you give to potential applicants?
First, make sure you tailor your application to the set that you are applying for. 5RB is a specialist media and communications law set and it will help if you can show an interest in media law in your application. Remember that the written application is a piece of written advocacy, and you must take time to ensure it is well crafted.
Second, prepare for the interview. Research the set and the recent cases they have worked on. Anticipate what kind of questions they could ask. A useful tip I always found was to write down every question I was asked during a pupillage interview afterwards. Inevitably the same questions come up between sets and it will be helpful if you have already thought of an answer in advance.
Finally, take care of yourself. The application process can be very demanding, especially if it matches up with law school exams. Take breaks, go on walks, and see friends – it is important to take time to look after yourself!