The chambers with the most supportive barristers — 2019 edition

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The new Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey results — analysed

Barristers have reputations for being lone wolves, slugging it out as individuals in court before returning to their lair where they prepare alone for the next battle. This approach to life hasn’t always made for the most friendly and vibrant of workplace cultures. Indeed, chambers can be little more than few corridors of closed doors organised around a central reception area.

And the solitary life might be getting even worse. With the advent of remote working some barristers are rarely at their set — splitting their time between court and home.

How, then, do you foster a collegiate atmosphere? As part of Legal Cheek’s Junior Barrister Survey we asked over 600 bar rookies at over 50 sets to rate their chambers for colleague supportiveness on a scale of one to ten. Eight stood out from the crowd scoring A*s. What is the secret to their success?

Firstly, you need to take active steps to make barristers hang out with each other. Traditionally that has been done through traditions such as chambers tea, where members are expected to congregate with each other daily at a set time. While this custom lives on at many sets, changing working patterns mean that it often isn’t well attended — particularly among junior members — as it used to be. Instead, we’re seeing more law firm-style ‘open door’ policies, where barristers are encouraged to make themselves available to each other.

Where this takes hold, it seems to work. At one A*-scorer, Cornerstone Barristers, one barrister tells us that the open door policy “means I never hesitate to ask questions and seek support”. Another adds: “Colleagues are endlessly kind and generous with their time, as well as genuinely interested in everyone’s endeavours and successes”.

The 2019 Chambers Most List – featuring the Legal Cheek Survey results in full

Ensuring that senior members of chambers are on hand to help their less experienced colleagues is particularly important. That means fostering a culture that frowns on over self-reliance. A barrister at Hardwicke, which also got an A* in this category of the Legal Cheek Survey reports: “Got told off for sitting in silence when I was struggling with a case. Actively encouraged to ask questions and for pep talks, from everyone from reception to heads of chambers.”

QCs and other also need to make themselves visible. As one Devereux insider tells us: “There’s always somebody around to answer questions if you’re stuck, and senior members of chambers sometimes wander in to bounce ideas around — there is a very collegial atmosphere.”

At other sets, such as Outer Temple, the junior end of chambers is said to be “particularly close and supportive”

And it turns out that when you manage to actually get barristers together they can have fun. A dispatch from the Henderson Chambers frontline:

“Chambers is a fun place to work. Part of the reason for that is that all its members are nice people with a sense of humour. These characteristics also make it a very supportive environment. Members and staff are genuinely approachable and have the ability to make problems seem manageable. There is support for pupils everywhere they turn — from the silks, to the juniors to the clerks room.”

Barristers’ sharp wit and penchant for verbal back and forth is also said to be well-harnessed at northern powerhouse sets Exchange Chambers and Kings Chambers, which also bagged A* grades for colleague support.

And even when barristers are not working in chambers they can help each other out. We hear that among St John’s Chambers barristers in Bristol it’s not uncommon for there to be “phone calls with other members at 11:30pm and Bank Holidays”.

The sets that scored an A* for colleague support in the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey

Chambers listed in alphabetical order; winner to be announced at the Legal Cheek Awards on 21 March 2019

Cornerstone Barristers
Devereux Chambers
Exchange Chambers
Henderson Chambers
Kings Chambers
Outer Temple
St John’s Chambers

Peruse all of the chambers’ new 2018-19 survey scorecards — including training, quality of work, colleagues, facilities and social life — via the Legal Cheek Chambers Most List 2019.

Previously: The best chambers for training; the best chambers for quality of work for juniors

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Nice to see a good news article on here.



Shoutout to Cornwall Street- friendliest Chambers in Birmingham!

Also at Oxford and Shrewsbury



Instructing solicitor

Seconded. Lovely bunch.



All of your “most” lists routinely miss out exceptional chambers that should be on them, and then students rely on your lists as though they are exhaustive and no other sets should be considered.

It’s lazy journalism verging on incompetence and it is causing your readers (who you are ostensibly trying to help) to overlook places they could apply.

Be better and ask a wider pool of people, or at least caveat in your article that these lists aren’t exhaustive.



As a junior tenant at one of your listed sets (not the ones above) I can confirm I was never asked about to complete a survey and I don’t know anyone who was.



Then tell your set to fork over some cash next time



A friend of mine was emailed at 10pm on a Saturday by their supo and was told that the work they had submitted was terrible and how dare they. They were again in first half of first six.

Another friend of mine was told that it was inappropriate to ask a question. They were in the first fortnight of their pupillage.

Different sets – which will remain unnamed, not ones in this article.



Sounds pretty hardtköre



Why are there so few sets in this list? What selection criteria did you apply to this meagre showing? What about the scores and scores of other sets who you don’t mention? Why don’t you mention them?



Do Hardwicke still set billable hours targets for their tenants, with the threat of withdrawal of tenancy ever-present?

I’ve asked this before when these surveys are published, but for some reason the question keeps getting removed.

Why is that?



That would go a long way towards explaining it.



My comment in reply to yours has been deleted twice. I’ll let you guess what it said.



I read what it said. The fact that it has been removed reinforces the suspicion that the lists are biased. This is a highly selective money-go-round for the benefit of Legal Cheek, rather than being an authoritative resource that any aspiring barrister would find instructive.



This is pretty scary.



This is a ridiculous comment. I have friends who have been tenants at Hardwicke for a number of years and this has never been a policy during their time.



When did it stop? I learned about this in 2011 from a somebody who was tenant at Hardwicke then and still is now. We’ve fallen out of touch now, so I can’t really ask them.



At least 5 years ago, if this ever was a policy.



It was the then-policy, as explained to me by one of their tenants.


I can also categorically say that they don’t pay 28% rent.



You should do a demographic investigation into bedblocking partners, their guessed ages and levaerage to associate ratios, using guesses to estimate how profitable or how greedy the khunt partners are.

Data, MS excel, boom



Chambers don’t have partners.





Legal Cheek Marketing Department

Are you a Chambers that isn’t on this list?

Would you like to be?

If so, please send your application form enclosed in a brown envelope to Alex Aldridge at:

The Gutter
Cheap Street



What about all the legal aid sets? Where they not part of this survey because their annual turnover isn’t sufficient to put them in the top 30?





The set where pupils asking for help is seen as “mollycoddling” and a tenant’s response to a question about whether colleagues are supportive was met with a “you’re kidding, right?”

It’s sink or swim there, mate!



Just realised they’re a sponsor.

Please feel free to delete factually correct but non-complimentary comment.

I understand.

Commercial awareness and all that!



Not so!

Exchange are a progressive, friendly set but are looking for excellence and will only take on outstanding tenants.

Those who don’t make the grade should not look to blame the way Chambers is run, but rather their own shortcomings (whether inherent or otherwise).

It’s that sort of thinking that drives down standards.



Lord Harley retrial then?

Think he needs to call in the big guns. Reckon D’Souza would benefit from assistance from Sham Uddin. He sometimes works late/on weekends, which sets him apart from all other lawyers. The argument over who gets to lead who will be played out over social media – I imagine a video featuring Uddin’s Range Rover; and someone else’s Ferrari with the number plate from Uddin’s Range Rover stuck on the front . . .

A case of this magnitude would also likely benefit from being “supervised in a number of jurisdictions” by Advocate Altaf Hussein – England’s leading international lawyer.

That’s one hell of a dream team isn’t it.


Leeds barrister

My supervisor during pupillage was very supportive – he‘d voluntarily prop up my breasts without my permission but I let me him continue for fear of not qualifying.

Sad old world.



Regardless of whether this article is biased or not, the insight it offers into the culture at the sets it mentions is painfully thin


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