Pupillage at Deka Chambers lasts for 12 months.

During the first six months, a pupil sits with three supervisors. Each ‘seat’ lasts for two months.

A pupil’s first supervisor is a civil practitioner, who is likely to specialise in personal injury and/or clinical negligence, with whom the pupil will observe written advisory and drafting work, conferences (on matters such as merits, evidence and quantum) and some court work. The focus of this part of pupillage is reviewing and teaching the drafting and advisory skills required to manage a civil practice.

The second and third supervisors specialise in crime and family work. In these ‘seats’, the pupil observes a range of court-based work, including preparatory hearings and trials. The focus of this part of the pupillage is ensuring the pupil has and develops the skills to manage a court-based practice, including analysis, preparation, witness handling and advocacy.

The structure is intended to permit pupils to observe work in our main areas of practice in advance of when they conduct their own work in the second six months.

Alongside working with their supervisors, the pupils take part in an internal advocacy programme. Sessions take place each month. They are led by senior and junior members of chambers and give the pupils an environment in which they can be observed and receive feedback on their speaking and arguing skills. The exercises involve civil, criminal and family scenarios, many of which are based on experiences in previous cases. Towards the end of pupillage, these sessions are assessed as part of the pupils’ applications for tenancy.

In the second six months of pupillage, pupils take their own cases.

Pupils enjoy a varied and challenging practice and often tackle unfamiliar areas of law and procedure, so an exhaustive list cannot be given; however, typical hearings include: application and case management hearings in personal injury (including road traffic accident) claims, disposal (quantum) hearings, residential possession cases and small claims trials in civil work; plea, case management and sentencing hearings, as well as Magistrates’ Court trials (including prosecution trial lists), in criminal work; and urgent removal applications, case management (and other interim) hearings, legal arguments and short final hearings (trials) in family work.

Deka Chambers is one of the few leading sets in London which still offers a genuinely mixed practice to pupil and tenants.

Each pupil is supported in the second six by a fourth supervisor, who often practises in multiple areas of law, and they can contact and take advice from their previous three specialist supervisors and juniors in chambers (including recent pupils). We have an ‘open door’ policy by which any member of chambers or pupil is welcome to ask any other member, however senior or junior, for help.

Pupils continue to produce written work for their supervisors during the busy second six months of pupillage. In each case (in the first and second sixes) written feedback, supplemented by oral discussion with the supervisor (or other person setting the work), is given for each piece of written work, with the aim of acknowledging strengths and identifying potential improvements (and how to achieve them).

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