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. It is home to more than 60 barristers, including 20 silks, who prosecute and defend some of the most high-profile cases around. Head of chambers Jonathan Laidlaw QC successfully represented News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks in the phone hacking case and acted for the Football Association in the Hillsborough Inquests. Prosecuting, one 2 Hare silk recently secured the conviction of a man for two brutal murders that took place in Clapham eleven years ago. For the defence, two of the set’s QCs got acquittals in a gang-related murder, and the first prosecution of a far right organisation since the Second World War.
Chambers offers 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 in the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey.
On top of assessment by their supervisor and other tenants, pupils take part in an intense in-house advocacy programme, in which they perform monthly exercises in front of members of the pupillage committee and others. One pupil remarks: “It’s like being in a zoo” and is “scary as hell, but totally invaluable”. Another says: “You get taught over a period of months by people doing some of the toughest criminal cases around”.
You will have four supervisors, for three months each, and gain experience defending and prosecuting. Given a B for work, pupils praise the “varied, challenging and interesting” cases and “great opportunities to do really demanding work”. “Even as juniors we have a mixture of regulatory, disciplinary, criminal, inquiry and other civil work. It’s brilliant!’ says one.
2 Hare Court receives As for colleagues and facilities. There is, says one pupil, “a very strong bond at the junior end”, and that supportive environment runs throughout. “You get incredible help from other members at all calls. 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,” says another.
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”.
Located in legal London’s historic Temple area, the set is being spruced up, which according to one pupil, it needed. “A few years ago it looked like The Ritz would have if it had been hit in the Blitz, but the 1940s furniture is now all gone.”
The set recruits outside the Pupillage Gateway system and follows its own timetable. It 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 judgement and a practical approach to problem-solving.