2 Temple Gardens muscles to top of pupillage pay table

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As 2TG award hits £67,5000, Hardwicke and 11 Stone Buildings also boost pupil money triggering a potential cash arms race for top talent


London common law set 2 Temple Gardens has leapfrogged to the top of the pupillage pay league table, with the chambers doling out awards this year of £67,500 — £2,500 more than the chasing pack.

Joining 2TG in the dosh arms race is Lincoln’s Inn commercial and Chancery set 11 Stone Buildings, which has shot up the table by boosting its pupillage award this year to £65,000 — placing it in line with a host of top sets.

The others offering £65,000 whacks are: Fountain Court and 4 Pump Court in the Temple, Quadrant in Fleet Street and Lincoln’s Inn’s Wilberforce.

Neither 2TG nor 11SB feature in the established “top 30” chambers as their overall revenues fall short of larger sets with more barristers. They also offer less pupillages than the biggest sets, with two 2015 pupillages available at 2TG and one at 11SB. By contrast, the so-called “magic circle” sets offer 4-5 pupillages each year. As such these smaller operations are sometimes overlooked by students. With that in mind, their pupillage award increases can be understood as publicity-grabbing plays to lure crème de la crème candidates through cash.

However, 2TG chambers manager Shona Kelly suggested to Legal Cheek that the upping of the award — which already stood at £60,000 last year — was simply evidence of the set, which has 12 QCs, gaining ground as a serious player in commercial law.

Chambers within the “top 30” often offer substantially less — although still weighty — sums to their new recruits. However, there are signs of movement within that group, too, with Hardwicke this week announcing that it was upping its 2015 pupillage award from £40,000 to £45,000.

The last pupillage pay war took place in 2009-11, when some of the leading sets put upwards of £10,000 onto their awards and Wilberforce shocked the market with a £17,000 increase — going from £48,000 to establish the newly-broken benchmark of £65,000.

Below the five other chambers which continue to offer that figure come ten which pay a £60,000 award: Blackstone Chambers, Brick Court, Essex Court Chambers, 20 Essex Street, Keating Chambers, 7 King’s Bench Walk, Maitland Chambers, Monckton Chambers, 4 New Square, One Essex Court, Serle Court, South Square and 3 Verulam Buildings.

Another 13 sets offer awards of £55,000, with the remainder of the top 30 spread between £52,500 and Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester set Exchange Chambers propping up the bottom of the list on £25,000.

Pupillage awards cover a contribution towards Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) fees as well as a stipend during pupillage. Most of the latter goes towards the first six months of pupillage, with less devoted to the second six as pupil barristers are allowed to get on their feet and bill during that period.

For more information about the top 30 chambers check out the new the Legal Cheek Top 30 Chambers ‘Most’ List and accompanying chambers’ profiles.