Famous as the chambers of daytime reality TV’s Judge Rinder (aka Robert Rinder), 2 Hare Court is one of the country’s leading criminal and regulatory sets. Barristers here have acted in some of the most high profile criminal cases around, some of which have featured in documentaries, both prosecuting and defending. The set is also known for the related areas of health and safety, professional discipline, tax and sports law. 2 Hare Court has 69 barristers, including 22 silks.
This chambers is named after Sir Nicholas Hare, who was elected Speaker of the House of Commons, and later appointed Master of the Rolls back in the 16th century. The judge known as “the Hanging Judge”, George Jeffreys, was once housed at Hare Court. The building which is now 1 Hare Court, was the home of the chambers up until 2000, when the set moved into its current address at 2 Hare Court. Located in legal London’s historical Temple area on Middle Temple Lane, the building is the “epitome of an old school Temple set, which belies the modern environment inside” says one member in the 2021-22 Legal Cheek Junior Barristers Survey. The ground floor rooms have recently been refurbished and “look very impressive” — the 1940s furniture is now apparently all gone. Chambers is also “well supported by an external IT company who respond quickly if there are problems”, alongside “state of the art” wifi, printing and videoconferencing technology.
Head of chambers Jonathan Laidlaw QC successfully defended News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks in the News of the World phone hacking case, and acted for the Football Association in the Hillsborough Inquests. Sallie Bennett Jenkins QC also secured an acquittal in the first prosecution of a far right organisation since the Second World War. Due to the serious nature of the work coming to 2 Hare Court, trials can, unsurprisingly, affect members’ work/life balances.
The work at 2 Hare Court is “high quality and very varied, from Treasury Counsel’s work in prosecuting at the Old Bailey, to serious and complex fraud cases, to professional discipline work (across a range of disciplines) to inquiries, inquests and tax”, as one member says, summing up the work on offer. Recent criminal cases include Brian O’Neill QC successfully prosecuting two men of the murder of drill artist ‘Bis’ and Martin Heslop QC and Merry van Woodenberg representing the acquitted defendant accused of murder following an almighty three and a half month trial.
Inquiries and investigations wise, Kate Blackwell QC was counsel to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, Alison Levitt QC conducted the Independent Review into the Boohoo Group’s supply chain, and several members are also instructed in the Manchester Arena Inquiry. In the business crime areas, Jonathan Kinnear QC and Howard Watkinson acted for the Serious Fraud Office in relation to corrupt offers made to influence the award of contracts in the UAE worth approximately $3.3 billion, and Jonathan Laidlaw QC and Lewis MacDonald successfully acted in a private prosecution for clothing brand Supreme against a company which was fined £7.5 million in respect of counterfeiting across Europe and China. Even juniors are known to have mixed practices consisting of regulatory, disciplinary, criminal, inquiry and other civil work.
Chambers offers up to two 12-month pupillages a year, paying £30,000 in the first six months and guaranteeing £10,000 earnings in the second. While the pay is not the highest (although for the criminal bar it’s pretty good), it is the training that sets it apart, earning an A rating Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey.
Pupils spend time with three teams in total, in equal four month stints, and have a junior and QC supervisor in each. One of the best parts about pupillage here is that all pupils spend an entire month with a Treasury Counsel or Treasury Counsel monitoree, who are specialist advocates prosecuting many of the most serious and complex criminal cases, and often appear in the Old Bailey; the set’s own Oliver Glasgow QC being the First Senior Treasury Counsel. In the first six, pupils read briefs, draft written work, conduct research and attend court and conferences. When into second six, pupils manage their own caseload as well as assisting their supervisors and other members. 2 Hare Court’s website says pupils should expect to be in court “most days if not twice a day”. On top of this, pupils take part in an intense in-house advocacy programme, taught by silks and senior practitioners with feedback given at the end of every session. One pupil told us: “It’s like being in a zoo” and is “scary as hell, but totally invaluable”.
2 Hare Court receives an A for colleagues. One member tells us: “The barristers and clerking team in chambers are very supportive, both in terms of helping others with legal, ethical and conduct questions and, more broadly, in supporting each other to make sure that the set is a happy place to work”. Apparently there is a very strong bond at the junior end and one told us: “I once got instant help on a tricky but relatively minor problem from a leading junior of 20 years’ call, and the former No.1 Treasury Counsel”.
You can expect to work an average of 50-59 hours a week, but it’s not all work, work, work. The set boasts an informal basement bar where, says one pupil, “junior tenants (and some senior) go to on Friday nights before continuing at Daly’s”. Another member tells us the chambers is a “sociable and friendly place, and always has been”.
2 Hare Court regards pupillage as an “essential investment in the future of chambers and the bar” and looks for “articulate and well motivated individuals” with at least a 2:1, sound judgment and a practical approach to problem-solving. The most common way of gaining tenancy here is actually after 18 months, rather than the usual 12, with pupils often being offered a further six months if unsuccessful in their tenancy applications. The set accepts mini-pupils and encourages applications from women, people of minority ethnic origin, people with disabilities, those part of the LGBTQI+ community, and those state school educated. The set is also involved in several community and outreach initiatives including Young Citizens, Bridging the Bar, Women in Criminal Law Group and Barristers in Schools.