2 Temple Gardens

The Legal Cheek View

If you wander down Middle Temple Lane from the Strand, you reach a big arch at the bottom over which sit several stories of a grand-looking building. On the other side of the arch is Victoria Embankment and the Thames. Inside that grand building, with views out both up Middle Temple Lane, over the river and onto the neighbouring Inner Temple Gardens, is civil set 2 Temple Gardens (2TG).

It’s not a bad place to go to work every day. “We have some of the best views in legal London,” one of the chambers’ members tells us – the well-appointed arbitration room is a particular fave. Another describes the building as fostering “a lovely Dickensian chic atmosphere”. Although beware that the Grade 2 listed building has “a knack of being cold in winter and hot in summer”.

Founded over 70 years ago in number two, the set has since spread across number one and number three Temple Gardens. It is home to 60 barristers, 14 of them QCs, and offers two or three pupillages each year. They work across two main areas: common law and commercial law. The common law side includes personal injury, clinical negligence and employment. The commercial work centres around company disputes, fraud and banking & finance. 2TG also does a fair bit of insurance work. Insiders describe the work as “incredibly varied”.

Continue reading

“My work ranges from Brexit related international trade agreement work to preparing for run of the mill fast track road traffic accidents that feature fraud,” one reports. This is echoed by another Legal Cheek mole who tells us: “I have undertaken a broad range of work during my pupillage, ranging from small claims under the Highways Act to working on international arbitration disputes”.

Another adds: “I’m regularly working on cases that are making new law, including in all the appellate courts up to the Supreme Court, and have a great opportunity to push my practice into areas I enjoy.”

The range in size of the cases that comes through the clerks’ room door is helpful in that pupil and junior barristers experience being led in the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court by a QC, but also get to handle their own cases in the County Courts, doing things such as taking on fraudsters. “Well-structured and well-supported” training under “friendly and accessible” supervisors help the set score excellent marks for training in the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey. The set has managed to adapt to recent events too: one newbie says “I particularly appreciate the weekly advocacy training sessions over Zoom”.

Here’s another account of the learning experience:

“Pupillage training here was quite intense and formative: for instance, we had a week before the start of pupillage formally started where we sat in the head of pupillage’s office and he personally gave us a refresher course on drafting. We had advocacy exercises to prepare us for our second six and received excellent training in preparing for our first few trials. Feedback throughout the pupillage process was regular and detailed. My first supervisor had a weekly ‘check-in’ with me. Overall I would say that as a pupil I felt immensely supported.”

Morale is doubtless helped by 2TG’s substantial pupillage pay, which is among the highest at the bar. Once fully qualified, tenants can expect to make well into six figures.

Women make up approaching half of 2TG’s juniors and one third of its QCs. An insider tells us that it has never “lost” a woman after maternity leave. That’s backed by chambers’ mothers, one of whom says: “I have three young children and 2TG has been very supportive whilst I was off on maternity leave and when I returned each time”. A pro-flexible working mindset, and reasonable hours (for the bar), helps in this respect.

Bonds are fostered through an active social scene. There are chambers drinks every Friday, chambers tea every Wednesday afternoon, and a party roughly every quarter. “It means you can socialise with work colleagues regularly (but not too regularly!)” one 2TG rookie tells us. Another pupil praises the “open door policy”, adding that “the main reason I accepted 2TG’s offer of pupillage over offers from other sets was its down to earth and friendly atmosphere. I definitely made the right decision”.

What The Junior Barristers Say

It was the quality of work at 2 Temple Gardens (2TG) that drew junior barrister Ruth Kennedy to the set. “Members of chambers have appeared in decisions all the way up to the Supreme Court in our areas of work,” she says.

2TG covers a broad range of practice across the civil and commercial spectrum. This breadth was also important to Kennedy, who was called to the bar in 2015, as she was keen to gain experience in a variety of areas.

Housed in a distinctive white Victorian listed building overlooking the Thames, 2TG is home to 62 practising barristers. They work together in spacious shared rooms; Kennedy has two other junior barrister roommates. “Our room has an amazing view overlooking the wide lawns of Inner Temple Garden,” she says.

During pupillage, Kennedy completed her first seat in clinical negligence and personal injury, and her second in professional negligence and insurance. In her third seat, part of her role included working for the government on the Mau Mau litigation, a high-profile case involving over 40,000 claimants alleging abuse arising out of the 1950s Kenyan uprising, a case which she is still working on.

Continue reading

Chambers tries its best to ensure that the three pupils it takes on each year feel as supported as possible. Upon starting, pupils are assigned a mentor. “My mentor and I would go for regular coffees or lunch together and it was great to have someone I was able to run things past,” recalls Kennedy, who will be mentoring a pupil herself from this year’s intake.

There’s a big emphasis on advocacy experience for pupils, who do a series of training workshops throughout the year. Pupils receive feedback on every piece of work they complete and at the end of each seat there’s a review session with the head of pupillage. “These help identify any areas for improvement so that when it comes to the decision for tenancy there are no surprises,” says Kennedy.

By her second six, Kennedy was taking on her own caseload. So when she secured tenancy, the transition from pupil to junior barrister wasn’t overwhelming. Juniors do, however, have to take control of their practice and manage their diary. But the clerks are helpful in this regard. “The clerks are great at directing the work you want your way and can help steer your practice,” explains Kennedy, whose practice now focuses on commercial litigation and employment law. The clerks also “react” to juniors’ workload and ensure they aren’t laden with too much paperwork.

Kennedy has had a “fantastic” year so far, having appeared as sole counsel in the High Court, Employment Tribunal and County Court; and being led in the Supreme Court. In a typical week, Kennedy will appear in court two or three times. But given the nature of her practice, that can often vary. She finds it’s an even split between court appearances and paperwork and when we speak she is having a “paper day”, which involves prep work for a trial later on in the week and writing an advice on a conflict of laws jurisdictional issue.

There are opportunities at 2TG for international placements at the junior level — some of Kennedy’s colleagues are currently seconded to firms in Dubai and the British Virgin Islands. There are also opportunities at the junior end for working on international cases; Kennedy is currently part of a team working on a joint venture dispute which is the subject of an international arbitration.

Juniors are actively encouraged to give talks to promote their practices and Kennedy has recently given a few alongside senior members.

There’s plenty of interaction among juniors and silks. “I have absolutely no hesitation wandering in and asking a senior member of chambers a question. Everyone is super friendly and supportive and that’s been really invaluable. It makes life great at the junior end,” says Kennedy, who has co-written a number of legal articles and practical guides with leading QCs. “Senior members of chambers really care about us getting our name out there,” she adds.

So what do junior barristers at this set do for fun? Quite a lot, says Kennedy. Beside Friday drinks down the local pub, juniors have got together lately for fancy dress parties, bowling, crazy golf and even outdoor swimming.

For aspiring barristers looking to join this set, the Oxford University law grad recommends thoroughly researching chambers’ areas of speciality. Then it’s important to ensure you have some experience in those areas to demonstrate your interest. Kennedy completed a mini-pupillage at 2TG which helped her get a feel for chambers.

Although the interview process can be “nerve-wracking”, chambers makes sure all interviewees are on a level playing field. Kennedy’s top tip is to relax and be yourself so that your true self can shine through. She continues: “You’ve got to see chambers as a place for life and so it’s important they accept you for you.”


Mini Pupillage

1-3 December 2021
Applications close 22/10/2021

Insider Scorecard

Quality of work
Work/life balance

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey 2020-21 of over 600 barristers at the leading chambers in England.

Key Info

Juniors 48
QCs 14
Pupillages 2-3
Oxbridge-educated new tenants* 4/5

*Figure is for the five most junior members of chambers; does not include postgraduate studies.


Pupillage award £70,000
BPTC advance drawdown £20,000

Gender Diversity

Female juniors 40%
Female QCs 36%