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Aspiring barrister left devastated after receiving pupillage offer in ‘error’

Holly Hickman had already informed her family and friends

An aspiring barrister today urged chambers to take more care when sending pupillage offers out to applicants after receiving one by mistake.

As bar hopefuls across the country found out today if their applications had been successful, paralegal Holly Hickman took to Twitter to reveal she had received a precious pupillage offer and had spent the morning “bouncing off the walls with excitement and elation”.

But the good news, which Hickman promptly shared with family and friends via FaceTime due to the lockdown, was shortlived when she received a follow-up email from the unnamed set that explained that the offer was sent in “error” and that she was actually unsuccessful.

Reacting to the devastating news, Hickman said: “Chambers, I know there’s a lot going on right now, but please check when sending offers out to applicants. It’s not difficult to send the right correspondence to the right people and frankly it avoids the emotional cruelty of what I’ve experienced this morning.”

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The bar hopeful continued:

“Like me, many applicants are in the middle of revision for upcoming exams so we aren’t seeking further aggravating experiences. You demand excellence from your applicants so we expect the same from you.”

News of Hickman’s situation was met with a mixture of sympathy, shock and anger by lawyers on Twitter.

“Really sorry to hear about this Holly,” wrote HM Treasury barrister Michael Harwood. “No excuse here at all for this error, particularly given the gravity of it. Very poor indeed.”

1 Crown Office Row barrister Jo Moore tweeted: “God you poor thing. I’m sure that the chambers in question is distraught but of course that doesn’t change how horrible this must have been. I hope you can do something nice for yourself today. And like you say, sure this will be a future funny story one day. Virtual hug.”

“That’s just awful,” Parklane Plowden pupil Chloe Branton replied. “I am so sorry.” Ellen Gordon-Bouvier, a legal academic at Oxford Brookes University, said: “Oh my god, Holly, that’s horrendous and completely inexcusable of them, COVID crisis or not. I can only imagine how disappointed you must feel and I hope you feel better soon.”

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