Keira Shaw on Moving From 1st to 2nd Six of Pupillage – Pupillage Series

As part of Central Chambers’ ongoing “Pupillage Series” of articles, Keira Shaw shares her experience of her 1st-six and considers the move from non-practising to practising pupillage.

Keira Shaw

As I reflect on my experience of pupillage thus far, I cannot believe how swiftly time has passed. As I write this, I have about five weeks until my first day in the second six. It is a daunting thought, yet I am also filled with excitement.

I vividly remember my first day of pupillage as if it were only yesterday. On that day, I met my supervisor, Mark Shanks, and my co-pupil, Olivia, at Minshull Street Crown Court. This was not, however, the first time I had met Mark; in the months leading up to the start of my pupillage, Mark and I were in regular contact, which helped enormously in alleviating my first-day nerves. An hour after arriving at Minshull Street, we were already observing various Crown Court hearings, such as bail applications and case management hearings. The afternoon was spent in Chambers, meeting the clerks and being briefed on the expectations Chambers has of their pupils, all of which was both insightful and useful.

Throughout my first six months of pupillage, I have had the opportunity to shadow different members of Chambers and witness a variety of Crown Court and Magistrates’ Court cases. Shadowing different members has enabled me to observe various styles of advocacy and case preparation. Olivia and I have also participated in various advocacy sessions within Chambers, which have been overseen by our supervisors and other senior members. This has been immensely beneficial and has aided in the development of my own style of advocacy in preparation for the second six.

Everybody warned me that the first six would be a rollercoaster of emotions, and imposter syndrome certainly sets in at an early stage. Each week, I have oscillated wildly between feeling as though I will never be capable of standing up in court to address a judge, and feeling impatient, wishing I were working on my own cases right now. Today, I would say I am somewhere in the middle, but the imposter syndrome is still very much present – and that’s okay! It is important to remember that you do not know everything, and you will make mistakes along the way, but that’s normal; nobody expects you to be perfect.

Minshull Street Crown Court from the Minshull Street side. Pupillage allows experience of day-to-day courtroom activity.

One piece of advice I would offer all future pupils, irrespective of the area you intend to practise in, is that it’s okay to feel nervous and it’s okay to be scared. Starting pupillage is an enormous milestone and can be a very daunting experience at times, but you are not alone. Enjoy every moment of it, because before you know it, you’ll be on your feet and doing the work yourself. Ask as many questions as possible; no question is a stupid one.

Everyone at Chambers, Mark, the clerks, the crime team, and all members have been incredibly supportive throughout. I know that if I ever need anything or have any questions, everyone will be there to help me along the way. That support also extends beyond Chambers; everyone at the criminal Bar on the Northern Circuit has been extremely friendly and approachable. I know that no matter which court centre I find myself in across the circuit, there will always be someone there willing to help. Future pupillage applicants would do well to attend Central Chambers’ Pupillage Workshop events, too.

I look forward to continuing my pupillage journey and am excited to see what the future holds for me!


Keira and Olivia will be accepting instructions to appear in the Crown Court and Magistrates’ Courts from 2nd April 2024

To instruct either pupil, please contact the criminal clerking team by calling 01612361133 or by emailing