Analysis

The chambers with the best facilities in England — 2019 edition

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The new Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey results — analysed

When it comes to fancy legal workplaces, it’s hard to compete with the world famous skyscrapers that London’s top law firms call home.

But increasingly barristers’ chambers are giving it a go, as the leading sets plough a portion of their hefty resources into pimping up their gaffs.

Add high-end interior décor and slick technology into buildings located in the charming alleyways and passages of legal London, and you get quite an effect.

Ten chambers out of 50 scored an A* for facilities in the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey of over 600 bar rookies.

Among them were two magic circle sets, where barrister earnings dwarf even the megabucks of City law firm profit per equity figures. So little wonder that Blackstone Chambers — home of household name QCs such as Dinah Rose and David Pannick — has the exclusive vibe of Davos private jet frequent flyers’ lounge.

Nor perhaps should we be surprised that Fountain Court rookies rate their surroundings as considerably closer to The Ritz than The Blitz on the sliding scale we used to assess this category of our survey. With admirable understatement one insider told us: “Obviously not like a law firm or a bank, but we have everything we need, and everything works well.”

Some chambers are actually like a law firm or bank. Take 39 Essex Chambers and Hardwicke, which are located in two of the handful of modern buildings around Chancery Lane. A barrister at the former tells us: “Some might prefer the older buildings typical of the bar but it’s always a comfort to have new facilities, an IT team and lots of people working in chambers to assist in its daily running.” A colleague adds: “Very comfortable and lots of staff support.”

A rookie round the corner at Hardwicke reports: “We are fortunate to be the modern building in Lincoln’s Inn which means we do not have any of the drawbacks of being in one of the ancient buildings. We have generous offices with shower facilities on each floor. On the ‘client’ floor we have a large seminar room for events and ping pong as well as six large conference rooms for members use.”

For other sets, the natural beauty of their surroundings is enough. “I have a room overlooking Inner Temple Gardens at the Thames — it is pretty good!” says a 2 Temple Gardens barrister. Another argues that “we’ve got the best views in Temple” while noting the “lovely Dickensian chic atmosphere” of the Middle Temple gateway location that featured in, among other films, Mission Impossible.

Up the road at Gray’s Inn, the vistas are similarly delightful. “We all have our own rooms and they are all good-sized to very large. Most have views over Gray’s Inn gardens. We have excellent facilities for meetings etc and great support staff for IT, billing and facilities management,” a 3 Verulam Buildings junior muses.

Nearby Cornerstone Barristers is one of London’s most recently refurbished. “Lovely”, “very fancy”, “excellent” and “super smart and super well appointed” are just some of the gushing words used to describe the results by the set’s impressed members. A further survey respondent gives an insight into the progressive atmosphere: “Most members share rooms with colleagues but usually in small numbers. Hot-desking facilities are available for the express purposes of reducing costs for (and thus retaining) members who may need to work part-time or who live at a distance from London.”

Continuing our tour, we arrive at Lincoln’s Inn. With three separate sites in close proximity, barristers from Radcliffe Chambers are a common sight. The fast-growing, and fast–modernising, set offers its members some of the best support around — and judging by their survey results they seem to quite enjoy their mini-commutes across New Square Gardens.

Meanwhile, Fellow Lincolns Inn-er, 4 New Square, may be just another Georgian townhouse from the outside, but get inside and it’s 5* boutique hotel meets avant-garde yoga retreat — with functioning IT to match!

Not that all the chambers with the best facilities are in the Big Smoke. Exchange Chambers — with offices in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds — lives up to its Northern Powerhouse grandee status with “mood lighting, plush carpets and vast space”.

The sets that scored an A* for facilities 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

2 Temple Gardens
3 Verulam Buildings
39 Essex Chambers
4 New Square
Blackstone Chambers
Cornerstone Barristers
Exchange Chambers
Fountain Court Chambers
Hardwicke
Radcliffe 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; The chambers with the most supportive barristers.

42 Comments

JDP

I have mood lighting in my office. And a leather couch. So what?

(15)(0)

Anonymous

…and a handycam built into a fake office plant.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

JDP to interviewee: “You’ll get paid 1,000 to 5,000 dollars a day”

(9)(1)

Washed up high street consultant

It’s all relative. I’m just happy to have toilet roll in the bogs now.

(10)(0)

Anon

Legal cheek please disclose how many people you survey, which chambers they are from and how many chambers who make your top rankings have sponsorship ties with legal cheek. It’s only fair for people who are seeking pupillage to have a clear idea as to whether these kind of articles are accurate reflections of chambers or merely paid for plugs.

(46)(1)

Anonymous

Yeah. Even where the criteria are completely objective (e.g. chambers most list, ranked by pupillage award), they just skip over sets with 30k+ awards and list one that offers 25k (at least they did last year).

(13)(0)

Anonymous

Lol. Hardly spoilt for choice when you seek pupillage. If a chambers offers you one and you have to sit on a cactus in a branch on Isle of Wight then you take it!

(17)(0)

Birkenhead Forever

Definitely. I did my pupillage in a shipping container on the Liverpool docks

(17)(0)

Anonymous

Exchange Chambers annexe, was it?

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Sure, but it’s annoying when LegalCheek and other publications ignore smaller chambers. I literally didn’t know my current chambers existed until a BPTC careers advisor gave me a list of Non-Gateway sets she’d compiled. It’s a London set with a solid pupillage award – so there is no clear reason why it’s never mentioned. Getting pupillage is hard. That’s precisely why it’s not helpful when websites like LegalCheek focus only on a handful of sets, which tend to be those where everyone has an Oxbridge 1st and a BCL.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Field Court?

(3)(1)

Anonymous

It’s because mentioned sets are sponsors

(0)(0)

Kronos

So? The Greenberg Glusker LLP office is filled with priceless Renaissance art.

Top, top Titian.

(21)(0)

Anonymous

Hahaha very good.

(1)(0)

Anonymantle

Good for you, this was probably the first GG LLP funny comment I’ve read on this website!

(5)(0)

Anonymous

You unfunny flog.

(0)(5)

A barrister

Chambers which spend lots of fee income of facilities are good ones to avoid! It will be your money they’re spending.

(17)(4)

Anonymous

It really depends. Nice meeting rooms, good environment for a staff and competitive packages for staff, functioning IT etc are obviously decent investments. And frankly, when it comes to the likes of Blackstone it’s not “your” money they’re spending in the main, assuming “you” are a junior barrister. Chambers contributions depend on earnings, and it’s the bsd QCs who contribute the lion’s share, even if there’s a cap on contributions.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Does this survey reflect all chambers, or only those who pay you money?

(10)(0)

Anonymous

The chambers which wasted its members’ rent on Legal Cheek marketing – 2019 edition.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

What’s missing from these LC ranking are those sets who don’t make top dollar.

Elite legal aid sets (like Garden Garden and many of the crime sets) are not part of the “survey”

This is a ranking of good commercial sets only. Not a ranking of chambers generally.

LC should disclose which chambers were approached for the “survey”

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Garden Garden isn’t an elite set by any stretch. Basically full of shouty class warriors.

(14)(3)

Anonymous

Hmm Band 1 for immigration, Band 2 for public law and human rights.

I don’t think there is a case for saying it is not an elite set (in its practice area).

But I agree they are shouty class warriors.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

But where’s the money? You need big cash if you wanna buy a houseboat to fuck chicken in

(2)(0)

Anonymous

???

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Hardwicke – dreadful looking 70s building.

39 Essex – not a building but an anchor dragging them down.

(6)(4)

Anonymous

I’ve been inside Harwicke. It’s no better on the inside than the outside.

(4)(4)

Anonymous

39 have good clerks and a great summer party. Barristers are decent enough.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

No one is saying otherwise.

Failure of leadership. Building far too expensive. Few million walking out the door last year is going to continue to be a problem

(0)(2)

Anonymous

28% rent, £15k dilaps bill every 10 years, need to buy out ur age debt is you leave

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Dilapidations is such a con.

Surely the business pays rent to the building owner and shouldn’t have to pay extra because the building gets natural wear and tear over that time.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Is that the deal at 39? Cripes. Similar set, my rent is 15%. I’ll take failing photocopiers for that difference.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Does the telex machine work?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Byrom Street Chambers have excellent conference facilities stuffed with paintings and other objects d’art, a fairly substantial fish tank full of very pretty fish, and inexhaustible supplies of very good tea, coffee and biscuits. Why are they not on your list? Is it because they have the apparent good sense not to pay you?

(4)(0)

Anonymous

What a load of wank.

(4)(0)

London Solicitor

13KBW (as was) had a fantastic view out over the Thames.

Pity they are no more 🙁

(5)(0)

feasel

More codswallop from the yellowest press in town.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

This. Save for the 5 Paper weird stuff. Go to Hardwicke if you like doing random construction cases despite being told u would do chancery work whilst paying 28% rent and chilling in a naff building

(1)(1)

Temple Tantrum

2TG are top of the list of chambers facilities based only on the fact that they have a view? Hardwicke have a large marketing team that costs far too much and has achieved little more than a few more insurance-backed CFA contracts.

This partial backhander-funded chambers reviewing has to stop.

(5)(4)

Anonymous

2TG is a good set but their toilets are a joke.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

Multiple deletions as usual.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Rather than all of this guff about views, I don’t suppose you could ask people what they are earning? I love the Bar, but let’s be honest, I’m doing it for cash. I would love to know what a 1, 5 and 10 year junior is expected to make on average at various sets. Appreciate it will be an average, but if you are going to rack up huge debts, you need to know whether the pupillage award flatters the set.

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.

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