Life as a pupil at Atkin Chambers
Pupillage at Atkin Chambers
Pupils at Atkin Chambers undertake three separate seats and have the opportunity to work with a different pupil supervisor in each seat.
- The first six months comprises two three-month seats. After this there is a six month review with the Pupillage and Recruitment Committee.
- Pupils then sit with one supervisor for the remaining six months of pupillage.
- Chambers provides each pupil with a KC mentor throughout the course of pupillage.
- Pupils will produce pleadings, advices and other relevant documents arising out of the preparation and management of disputes tried in various types of dispute resolution forums, mainly for their pupil supervisors but also occasionally for other members of chambers.
- Atkin Chambers funds the compulsory continuing education courses which pupils are required to undertake as part of their pupillage.
A day in the life…
Laura studied Economics and Political Science at the University of Washington (USA) before completing the GDL and BPTC at City Law School.
The primary word I would use to describe the pupillage process at Atkin Chambers, is fair. From the initial interview to pupillage and finally the all-important tenancy decision the whole process is designed to encourage you to succeed.
The interview process is refreshingly different as the interviewers are not there to catch you out but instead give you the chance to prove yourself. Pupillage itself is obviously high-pressured but there are no expectations to work evenings or weekends. The tenancy application process is extremely fair. You are given the best chance to do as well as you can, with no other pressures placed on you during this period.
Pupillage at Atkin provides you with a good grounding on which to build a successful and busy practice. During pupillage I had the opportunity to work on many varied and interesting cases. The chance to work on substantial global infrastructure projects worth billions of pounds, cases in the Court of Appeal and international arbitrations in the Middle East and Latin America, exposed me to the high-quality and valuable disputes covered at Atkin.
One of the great features of pupillage is that you are given feedback throughout, my pupil supervisors always took the time, no matter how busy they might have been, to discuss in depth the work I produced. They were always happy to discuss any questions I had, ensuring I got the most out of my pupillage. I appreciated the opportunity to talk through case issues with my pupil supervisors and other senior members of Chambers, and I genuinely felt like my opinion was respected and considered. Straight from the start the members and staff at Atkin Chambers go out of their way to make you feel welcomed and to involve you in Chambers life. Friday night drinks are a great chance to get to know members of Chambers other than your pupil supervisors.
Mathias obtained his LLB from King’s College London and read for the BCL at Magdalen College, Oxford, before completing the BPTC at City Law School, London.
As an international student who had grown up in Hong Kong, I was always told that it would be an uphill struggle to apply for pupillage in London. However, my heart was set on developing a truly international practice, and I was delighted to accept a pupillage offer from Atkin Chambers, given Chambers’ outstanding reputation in construction and commercial litigation and arbitration both domestically and abroad.
Throughout pupillage, I was given a valuable insight into the breadth of Chambers’ practice – from completing my first written advice which concerned delays to the construction of a power plant due to the presence of landmines laid by militant terrorists, to assisting with written opening submissions in Amey Birmingham Highways Ltd v Birmingham City Council  EWHC 2191 (TCC). The learning curve is no doubt a steep one, but the experience is hugely rewarding – particularly given the amicable environment fostered by Chambers.
As a junior, I always feel supported by the excellent professionalism of the clerking team. Since my very first matter which involved a complex dispute arising from the redevelopment of the Rolls Building, I have taken on cases relating to Gatwick Airport, Legoland Windsor Resort and the like. Above all, I have been offered various advocacy opportunities in the High Court from an early stage.
Having now started to build an arbitration practice in Hong Kong, I am fortunate to have the chance to work closely with clients on matters ranging from a major residential complex in Macau to high-profile railway projects in Hong Kong, while having the full support of Chambers. There is no doubt whatsoever that this is the right set for me, and for any prospective pupil who is keen to develop a vibrant and international practice.