12 King's Bench Walk - True Picture

Market-leading personal injury and clinical negligence work awaits incoming pupils at 12 KBW, but it’s also a set where members are encouraged to build out practices in new areas of interest.

12 KBW pupillage review 2024

The Chambers  

“Our historic strength is market-leading personal injury and clinical negligence work,” head of chambers William Audland KC tells us. In a recent case that generated headlines in the media, Audland himself defended the Rugby Football League against claims of negligent management that led to incidences of brain injuries and early onset dementia in former national and international league players. Audland highlights that another strength for the set is employment and discrimination law, where Joel Kendall recently prevailed for his client during a whistleblowing tribunal case against Oxford University’s Said Business School. While these groups bring in a sizeable chunk of work, Audland adds that international and travel law is another growing area, which 12 KBW will use to gain greater traction in the aviation industry. The set’s wealth of expertise is reflected in its Chambers UK Bar accolades, which commend 12 KBW’s personal injury (including industrial disease), travel, and employment practices.  

“...humanity, empathy, and understanding are core skills for our type of work.”   

12 KBW’s client base is relatively balanced in that it represents both claimants and defendants, with the latter spanning large insurance companies, self-insured companies, and the government. Although the set is undoubtedly a personal injury and clinical negligence  heavyweight, it boasts a total of 20 areas of practice, including more recent specialisms like costs, sport, and inquests & inquiries. “If we have practitioners who want to develop into a new area, we support that by creating a practice group and helping them to market themselves,” Audland tells us, highlighting recent growth at the set. Speaking of growth, we were told that Brexit has prompted an increase in 12 KBW’s international work; the split between domestic and international litigation roughly sits at 80/20, respectively.  

As many of the cases handled by the set are of a sensitive nature, Audland advises that “life experience stands you in good stead for our areas of practice. We often deal with people who have sustained catastrophic injuries, or had their lives turned upside down in in some way: humanity, empathy, and understanding are core skills for our type of work.”  

The Pupillage Experience  

Pupils sit with three supervisors for four months at a time. Supervisors are “drawn from a whole range of juniors to seniors who are between eight and ten years call.” At the start of the pupillage there is a practical dos and don’ts session, which gives newbies a chance to ask junior tenants candid questions. Every pupil is also appointed a junior barrister as a mentor.  

“...it’s the point when you go from feeling like a law student to feeling like a barrister!” 

During the pupil’s first six, they’ll exclusively be doing work for their supervisor. As such, the set “tries to sit you with more senior people initially” to ensure a good workflow. During the first seat, “there is a conscious effort to send you out to court with other members,” a source explained. “There’s a balance between doing serious, difficult work; going out with senior members to see interesting trials; and observing the work done by junior tenants (and even those in the year above you) to get a taste of what you’ll be doing.” Head of pupillage Andrew Roy explains supervision is “very hands-on. Supervisors play an active role in everything the pupil does, but less so in the second six. At that point, it’s still supportive, but more hands-off.”   

The second supervisor helps their pupil to develop between the non-practising and practising period of the set’s pupillage. “You start off doing paperwork with them, but they also launch you into practice; it’s the point when you go from feeling like a law student to feeling like a barrister!” In their first six, pupils are likely to meet the insured client (the policy holder) in conferences with their supervisors. By their second six, pupils will move on to representing the insured. There’s also an employment team that acts for both employees and the employers: “There’s a good mix, as sometimes you’re representing an individual and sometimes it’s a huge insurance company.” At this stage of the pupillage, pupils also undergo a mock trial in front of an external judge – last year it was Master Davison of the High Court, a former member of the set. “It’s about making sure you’re ready to be on your feet and handling your own trials,” we heard. “It’s lightly assessed, but good fun!” The fun continues post-trial, as the pupils’ efforts are rewarded with drinks afterwards.  

“They’re judged by high but reasonable standards, and they’re expected to make mistakes and learn from them. That’s what pupillage is for!”  

Pupils are formally assessed on pieces of written work (the number of which varies from year to year). Here’s an example of what you can expect from the assessments: this year, pupils were tasked with producing three standard documents that were derived from real cases concluded by members of chambers. Pupils were given six weeks to complete the task. “It was one of the most useful things I’ve done because I got such detailed feedback,” a source reflected.  

“The best part of pupillage is getting your own cases. I'm now more or less left to my own devices,” a third-seat pupil told us, having just got the good news that they would be kept on as a tenant at chambers. Speaking of tenancy, here’s how the members of 12 KBW make their decisions: all members can submit feedback forms outlining performance according to specific criteria, including 1) intellectual ability, 2) judgement, 3) presentation skills, and 4) dedication. The final decision is made by the pupillage committee, who consider the submitted feedback and the pupil’s three pieces of written work. The latter is “not the be all and end all,” Roy assures us. “We don’t expect pupils to come out of law school perfect and fully formed,” he says. “They’re judged by high, but reasonable standards, and they’re expected to make mistakes and learn from them. That’s what pupillage is for!” In previous years, candidates who have just missed the mark have been given an extra six months (a third six) at the set to prove themselves.  

Of course, work is a fundamental aspect of life at chambers, but sets are also defined by their culture“Socialising is important,” a source confirmed. “We have a significant sense of our identity and brand, which we all want to be part of.” As such, there’s never a shortage of lunches and drinks, and “people wander in and out of each other's rooms at liberty!” Previous social events have seen members of chambers drop the books and hit the ping pong tables, host board game evenings, and play football matches against law firms and clients. Our pupil sources were grateful to have formed close working relationships not just with members of the set, but between each other as well: “You’re immediately given the impression that you’re not in competition with each other.” The set did not disclose retention figure this year, but in 2022, all three pupils gained tenancy.  

The Application Process  

There are three stages to 12 KBW’s application process. The first round consists of a written application that is submitted via the Pupillage Gateway. Historically, the set has received around 200 applications, so attention to detail and accuracy are key. “At that stage, they’re looking for reasons to put applications in the bin, so don’t make that decision easy for them by making a silly typo!” a pupil cautioned. “We use the Rare Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) as part of our pupillage selection process," head of pupillage Andrew Roy tells us. "This isa scientific method for correcting socioeconomic disadvantages and helps to even the playing field.”   

“You’ve got to be prepared for every interview, as there’s always someone there who’s really done their homework. You need to be one of those people!”  

Around 30 applicants are shortlisted and invited to the first-round interview. Candidates are asked to pick out a recent case and present an argument to appeal its judgment in front of a panel of four members. For this round, “you really have to know the work that chambers does,” a source explained. “To prove your competency, everything needs to be relevant to chambers.” The final stage consists of “a more traditional interview,” says Roy. “We ask questions to draw out the candidate's suitability for chambers.”   

“You’ve got to be prepared for every interview,” one pupil advised. “You can’t wing them, as there’s always someone there who’s really done their homework. You need to be one of those people!” This means knowing the cases you’ve mentioned in your application inside and out and being prepared to answer questions about them. There are up to three pupillages up for grabs each year. 

Plan as you mean to go on: 12 KBW is one of the few sets that publishes a Race Action Plan as part of its efforts to foster equality, diversity, and social mobility.

12 King's Bench Walk

Chambers profile

12KBW is a friendly set and has a strong community feel. Clients choose 12KBW to provide the highest quality advocacy and advice within our areas of expertise.

12KBW is a Legal 500 Tier 1 Personal Injury set regularly acting in cases at the forefront of our practice areas and which shape the law.

Types of work undertaken

12KBW is a leading civil set of chambers and has won the Legal 500 Personal Injury set of the year. Our expertise extends across personal injury, industrial disease, employment, clinical negligence, international and travel law.

Members of chambers regularly appear in the most significant cases in these practice areas in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and Court of Justice of the European Union.

Pupil profile

12KBW is looking to recruit first-class pupils who will be able to strengthen our areas of practice.

We are looking for intelligent and motivated candidates with a strong academic record. Potential pupils will need to demonstrate an ability to relate to clients, an interest in building their own practice and a commitment to providing high-calibre service.

Our pupils are selected from a wide range of backgrounds and experience. Our barristers include those for whom the Bar was a second career.

We are committed to diversity at the Bar. We especially encourage applicants from groups under-represented at the Bar and we will make reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates.


As a pupil you will be immersed in our areas of practice from the start and in your second six you will have your own clients and appear in court on a regular basis. You will do written work for your supervisors and other senior members, giving you the chance to be involved with complicated, high-level cases in a wide range of practice areas from the beginning.


Twelve mini-pupillages are offered per year. Four candidates at a time are offered a three-day mini-pupillage for one of the three sessions held throughout the year during university holidays.
o Only those who have commenced or already completed a full-time higher or further education course are eligible to apply.
o Students undertaking a law or a non-law degree are encouraged to apply.
o We consider that those in either their final year of a law degree, or on the law conversion course would benefit most from a mini-pupillage.
o Our criteria for selecting mini-pupils is the same as for selecting pupils, namely academic achievements, non-academic achievements and evidence of motivation and initiative. 12KBW is committed to equal opportunities.
Mini-pupillages at 12KBW are unpaid, but Chambers will reimburse reasonable travel and accommodation expenses incurred as a result of attending a mini-pupillage in Chambers, up to a maximum of £250 per session.

Sponsorship & awards

1. Frank Burton KC social mobility mini-pupillage. We will offer up to three places on the scheme. Each mini-pupillage will be funded by a £250 award and a travel/expenses allowance of up to £250.
2. The Thompson Reuter Tort Law Award 12KBW and Thomson Reuters are delighted to collaborate in the launch of a new annual essay competition focusing on questions of interest in tort law. The title for this year’s competition is:
“Is the ‘duty of care’ an unnecessary element in the modern law of negligence?”
The competition is open to all students registered with UK educational institutions. The essays will each be anonymised for judging. Essays should be no more than 1,000 words and must be received by midday on 30 September 2022. The three winning entrants will be awarded cash prizes of £2,000 (1st prize), £1,250 (2nd prize), and £750 (3rd prize).
The order of the top three essays will be judged by The Honourable Mr Justice Cotter, a High Court Judge specialising in tort law. The winners will be announced in January 2023. All prize-winning essays will be published on the 12KBW website. The essay winning the 1st prize will be published on the Tort Law webpage of the Sweet & Maxwell website. The winners will also be offered the chance to undertake a mini-pupillage at 12KBW.

Funding We offer an award of £55,000 to each pupil made up of a £27,500 grant and £27,500 in guaranteed earnings. £10,000 of the grant may be drawn down during the Bar Professional Training Course.

This Firm's Rankings in
UK Bar, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Personal Injury: Industrial Disease (Band 1)
    • Clinical Negligence (Band 5)
    • Employment (Band 4)
    • Personal Injury (Band 1)
    • Travel: International Personal Injury (Band 1)