And now for the results of my pupillage endeavours last year. If you've been reading this blog from the beginning you'll know I wasn't successful - now seems as good a time as any to fill in the gaps.
As I said last time, by the 2nd August I had been rejected outright by eight sets, three sets had offered me a first round interview, and one set seemed to be trying desperately to ignore that I exist. Of the three interviews, in two cases I wasn't offered a second round, but at the fabled "Set 3" I was called back for the final 5. The second round seemed to go pretty well, so I was just waiting for results day to find out my fate.
Results day is a horrible, horrible time.
I have previously alluded to a few webpages that I found particularly useful:
First up is the "The Pupillage Interview/Acceptance/Rejection Thread 20xx" on the "Student Rooms" discussion board. Last year's thread is 238 pages of hope, triumph and despair. The thread seems to be the place that applicants for pupillage will hang out to discuss where they are applying, interviews, application forms and anything and everything in and around the whole process. On results day, from 9am, the place goes nuts. There is a complete vacuum of information - people are desperately trying to find out if they're still in the game. There is a steady stream of questions and announcements, and the constant refrain of: "Well, I haven't heard anything yet, so I guess it's not my year." You can quite literally watch people's dreams being crushed in real time. It must be like catnip to sadists. This year's thread can be found here - at the moment it's still in the post-application euphoria stage. Soon it will become a barren wasteland.
Next up are "The Pupillage Pages". They run a forum called "Have You Heard?" which has a separate page for every Set. You can click on the name of your chosen Chambers and find out how excited everyone else is to be getting called to interview while you're sat there feeling glum. Like the Pupillage Thread, it can be a place of misery on results day.
Lastly, you have the Pupillage Portal itself. It can be a great source of information to see how far you've got, and whether or not any given set has yet rejected you (if they've not bothered to email you), so on results day I'm sure applicants check it every few minutes.
Last year, on the night before the Big Day, I tried to get some sleep. I couldn't sleep. I hoped that I might sleep through til 9 or 10 and thus not be a complete wreck all day. Well, that didn't work either. At 8am I found myself sat in front of my computer, all three websites above open, desperately searching for information on Set 3.
And I found nothing. At all.
No one was discussing Set 3, no one had any information to share. My phone didn't ring all day, and I was descending into lunacy. At about 4pm I received an email informing me that I had a private message over at the Student Rooms. It was one of the final five from Set 3 telling me that she had been rejected the day after the interviews. Her assumption was that this meant good news for me, as I hadn't heard anything. After a day of constantly decreasing hope, I finally allowed myself to think that maybe, just maybe, I might get some good news.
At 5pm the phone rang.
"Hi, is that Mini?"
"Hi, it's soandso from Set 3, can you talk?"
"Okay, here's the situation. Two weeks ago we rejected three candidates, leaving you and one other person. The original plan was to offer both of you pupillages. Last week the finance committee decided that we would only offer one pupillage this year, and this morning we offered it to the other candidate. You are the first, and only, reserve. The other guy has two other offers, so you've got a good chance of being lucky - I'll be in touch".
"Oh, great, thanks."
And then the waiting began.
I heard absolutely nothing from the Set for a week. In the end I bit the bullet and called them.
"Yes! The other chap turned us down so, subject to sign off from the finance committee, the pupillage is yours. It shouldn't take too long, just dot some proverbials"
"That's great news, thanks so much - I accept, of course, so just let me know when you need me to come in"
"Will do, speak soon"
And then the waiting began.
A week later I'd heard nothing more, so called them again.
"Still nothing, sorry, won't be long now"
And then the waiting began.
A few days later I tried calling again, but the head of the pupillage committee was never available, and he didn't return my calls. As we reached mid-September I was trying every other day, but it became obvious that the head of the pupillage committee didn't want to speak to me. In the end, the clerks gave me his mobile number. I left a couple of messages, and he never called back.
On the pupillage portal website your application status is listed next to every chambers. There are a number of versions: Under Consideration, Invited to First Round, Offered Pupillage, Rejected, etc. Before sets can offer a pupillage your status moves from "Invited to Final Round" back to "Under Consideration". This means that the next move will either be "Rejected" or "Offered Pupillage". The Pupillage Portal keeps an archive of your status from last year. My applications still show as "Rejected" (eleven times) and "Under Consideration" at Set 3. They didn't even bother updating the status on the website. 2 or 3 mouse clicks.
The end of September marks the end of the window for offering pupillage. For the last couple of days I was trying desperately to get hold of someone, anyone, to put me out of my misery. And no one ever called. The deadline passed, the Portal closed, and I knew I was without pupillage.
It was a truly, truly horrible experience - frankly I'd rather get 12 rejections pre-interview rather than go through something similar again. Suffice to say, I won't be reapplying to Set 3 when the Portal opens again on Thursday.