Outer Temple Chambers and the Free Representation Unit (FRU) will unite to offer a combined pupillage this year.
The prospective pupil will spend 18 months in total at the organisations, beginning with six months at FRU then transferring to Outer Temple Chambers for another six months before returning to FRU for their last six months.
Barrister, Outer Temple tenant and former FRU worker Naomi Cunningham was instrumental in establishing the joint pupillage, which aims to combat the oversupply of work to FRU as legal aid cuts take hold and also provide one pupil, who has shown commitment to pro bono work, with the opportunity for 18 months of paid experience and training.
She said: “FRU is an extremely effective little charity but has a problem with getting volunteers to do more than one case. And there are a lot of excellent candiates who are just getting overlooked but who work their socks off and are great with clients but who are just not getting pupillages, for whatever reason.”
Although the pupil will receive £25,000 scholarship funding over 18 months, there is no plan for either the unit or the chambers to recruit them once their pupillage has ended. Cunningham stressed that there was no guarantee of employment although if a person was exceptional there was a chance of recruitment.
She added that the six-month alternations between chambers and FRU were engineered to make sure that pupils spent the maximum amount of time possible at the unit and to enable them to learn more effectively at chambers by tackling the practicalities of FRU beforehand. She said: ”My personal view is that training and then practice does not work so well. You learn in a more engaged way if you’ve had a crack at it yourself before learning.”