How to get pupillage? Part 1

I had around ten pupillage interviews, many of them in London, in top chambers. I am not from Oxbridge. I went to Hull, so I consider the key aspect of my success the quality of my applications. 

Example questions and answers

Why do you want to join our Chambers? (200 words)

I am interested in Monckton Chambers because of its commercial practice, which has been involved in many notable cases like the Mastercard case. There are high profile cases in which I could be led by a QC, and smaller cases which could build up my confidence. Monckton Chambers has an excellent reputation as it attracts many well-known barristers who are often leaders in the field. 

What really sets Monckton Chambers apart from any other commercial set is the laid back atmosphere and strong personalities of its members. During my mini-pupillage, I felt I could have really got on with everyone in a more permanent role. 

Barristers in your chambers often become QCs, which proves that Monckton Chambers recruits the best practitioners. When choosing the chambers for my pupillage, my top priority is the chance to learn from the best practitioners and I believe that Monckton Chambers meets this criterion. London is the best place to start a legal career as it attracts many good lawyers. Therefore, there would be many opportunities to build up my practice as a junior tenant and make important contacts in the local legal community.

Please tell us about a case within one of our areas of practice and why you found it interesting? (250 words)

Sevilleja v Marex Financial Ltd UKSC 2018/0178 was a landmark Supreme Court decision which narrowed down the reflexive law principle, lifting a barrier to creditors recovering losses from third parties who have inflicted damage on debtor firms. Marex in this case sought damages in tort from Mr Sevilleja for inducing or procuring the violation of Marex’s rights in relation to the judgment debt and related court orders, and intentionally causing it to suffer loss by unlawful means. Mr Sevilleja tried to defend the actions by means of the no reflexive law principle. By majority, the Supreme Court altered the well-known principle. 

Before this decision, English law held a strong adherence to no reflective loss for corporate loss principle. This was due to many Court of Appeal decisions, which stemmed from Prudential Insurance Co Limited. It has also received a confirmation by the House of Lords in Johnson v Gore Wood & Co. The previous position was based on fears of double recovery, but it often left little remedy to the affected party. There were some exceptions to this rule, such as Giles v Rhindwhich established that the principle did not apply where the wrong caused to the company had made it impossible for the company to pursue a claim against the wrongdoer. 

This decision in Sevilleja was a landmark one because it gave the affected shareholders personal recourse against the wrongdoer and it might help to form a principled approach that could be used in such situations. 

Written Advocacy: What are the main challenges Artificial Intelligence poses for contract or commercial law? Having set out the main challenges, identify which is the greatest challenge in your view, and explain why. Any source materials relied on should be identified. (400 words or less) 

A very good insight on what challenges Artificial Intelligence poses for contract or commercial law was provided by Ezrachi and Stucke in ‘Virtual Competition’, Harvard University Press, 2016. Their book deals with the replacement of the invisible hand by a ‘digitized’ hand and what problems it creates. 

In a comment I wrote on this I note that a good example of this process from Ezrachi and Stucke’s book is ‘A tale of two apps’ … which describes the discriminatory treatment of two applications by Google – Brightest Flashlight and Disconnect. The former application tracks its users’ exact location and sells it to third parties, such as advertising networks, yet Google has never been penalised for this practice. The latter gave users greater control over the extent to which they were tracked while using the internet, but it was prohibited by Google for infringing its privacy rules, which are quite vague.

The list proposed by Ezrachi and Stucke is not exclusive and only restricted to competition. There are many straightforward problems like civil fraud and delays in electronic communication. Although they pose practical difficulties, I consider the issues related to competition more pressing due the fact there is no suitable regulatory framework to tackle them. In my comment, I also note that the monograph could have been insightful if it had centred on solutions that could be rectified. For example, ‘the harm to users that is inflicted through the extraction of data may be easier to address and to remedy under consumer and data protection laws than under competition laws’. 

Furthermore, until a new solution is devised, the only thing that can be conducted is to target scenarios as was done in the Athena case, where the algorithm Gravy was used to manipulate the market, with practice being boasted about in internal e-mails. In this case, the Securities and Exchange Commission for the first time sanctioned the high-frequency trading firm for using complex computer programs to manipulate stock prices, with stocks being bought and sold near the close of trading to affect the closing price. Athena paid a $1 million penalty for this.’ 

Finally, what Ezrachi and Stucke propose is not commercially viable. They propose regulation and although they acknowledge some of the inherent problems of this solution, it is argued that the scale of the problem is largely underestimated as it means taking away the invisible hand altogether.

If you want to read further, click here for part 2.