Welcome to those who have come to this site from LawCareers.net, which reproduced the Help post and made a donation to the Middle Temple scholarship fund for doing so, which was kind. I am grateful to the anonymous author whose post is reproduced below. One the one hand it does rather justify everything that you love to hate about the profession’s attempt to move your applications into the 20th century. On the other hand, at least it may help you to understand that a failure to communicate isn’t necessarily rudeness. Also: fill in your dates to avoid and – although I find it bizarre that this needs saying – fill in your full contact details. After all, you are hoping that Chambers get in touch with you.
I’ve read your blog for a few years and I thought I might follow your invitation to get in touch to offer a few thoughts about the administration of the Pupillage Portal. I think you have said that you are not involved in recruitment in your sets, so I hope this will be of vague interest in explaining why some things are almost inevitably going to be unsatisfactory and why some are more likely to go wrong than others. Assuming, that is, that you have not heard the others in your set grumbling about them already…A major issue is that the parts of the software which chambers use to run the application process is very awkward to use (I think mirroring the parts which candidates use). To give a trivial example: it is very easy to trip up on its mail-merge facility since it doesn’t have a preview function, making it all to easy to send out messages which start “Dear [name]”. It is also slightly unclear sometimes just how many ‘confirm’ buttons one has to hit before the email actually gets sent, making it quite straight-forward to send out more than one set of rejecting emails. However, that said, if you were rejecting people en masse on the Portal, it did only require the ticking of an extra check box to send them an email at the same time so there is no sensible reason why some sets do not manage to do this, nor change the default Portal text to something a bit more friendly. Equally, for those getting good news, it requires just another tick to send them a text-message; something I think more sets could use.It also appears that the software which runs the Portal was adapted from one designed for much larger organisations, with rolling recruitment and designated recruitment officers. This means it has dozens of features which I don’t think are ever used for pupillage. One example is that each application is allocated a status which slowly advances through the system. However, because there are so many statuses, to reject someone following an interview you have, for example, first to advance them from “invited for interview” to “interview booked” and then “interview attended” even if you were doing all the timetabling off the system. I think this may explain both why so many sets stop using the Portal to process the applications after the first interview stage and why sometimes someone’s status will mysteriously change (e.g. from “under consideration” to “in screening”) if the person administrating it needs to move everyone up before being able to do anything sensible with the applications.In terms of pre-interview and first-round interview rejections, it might be helpful to know that the only sensible way of sending out the messages is to invite those who were going to the next stage first, and then (having double- and triple-checked) do a “select all” on those remaining in the current category and “bulk process” (this being the Portal’s rather charming terminology, not mine) them to “rejected”. This is why rejections can end up being sent a while after invitations for the next round, particularly if there are some borderline candidates whose fate must be determined before the main batch can be processed. Although, as I mentioned above, this is no excuse for sending out any information to those rejected once a final list is chosen since it only requires a couple of mouse clicks.It is also easy to underestimate how much work is required just to keep on top of the applications. For example, when printed out, I think chambers had about 4,000 pages of text to deal with last year, so I can see a strong temptation not to furnish every member of a large panel with every application form before a first round interview. I was also surprised at how extremely keen candidates were: interview slots were booked within minutes of emails being sent out, although surprisingly few had filled in their “dates to avoid” on the form, which would have helped the process enormously. Though not as much as full contact details (e.g. phone numbers where people can actually be reached) and I wonder if a lack thereof might have a detrimental effect on an application if a junior tenant is doing the administration! That said, it was usually straight-forward to accommodate requests to move people around, if necessary, so I perhaps wouldn’t worry about asking (assuming there is a good excuse!) as much as some people obviously do, reading through the posts.