In their recently refurbished offices overlooking peaceful Gray’s Inn Gardens, tenants at 3 Verulam Buildings have some of the loveliest thinking spaces in legal London
3VB is highly regarded for its strength in banking and financial matters. Barristers at this set have represented a group of major retailers that took on Mastercard alleging that the transaction fees charged by the company were excessive. They also successfully acted for Citigroup when the private equity house Terra Firma sued the bank for $2 billion, alleging fraud in the financing arrangements made for Terra Firma to buy out the music label EMI.
Respondees to the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey describe this work as “great mix of commercial and public international law work”. Such “ground-breaking, precedent-setting stuff” comes at a price though. Like most commercial sets, you can expect to work between 50-59 hours in an average week. However, junior barristers aren’t just thrown in at the deep end without armbands. If you find yourself struggling, you can expect support from senior silks. An insider tells us a story where he was pacing the 3VB halls thinking about a case one evening. A QC saw this and invited him to start chatting. “Hours later at 10pm we were in his room debating the point and pulling out authorities together. It was immeasurably helpful and hugely generous.”
Outside of work, there is a “good rapport” among tenants. But while individuals may “meet regularly for lunch” or have “beers at the pub” this is not formalised.
The chambers has expanded in recent years, making notable hires such as Farhaz Khan from Outer Temple. Khan specialises in financial services and commercial disputes. 3VB also raided 39 Essex Chambers, recruiting a silk and four juniors in 2018.
There has a been a notable return, too. After stepping down as Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court, Sir William Blair (elder brother of former PM Tony) returned to 3VB at the end of 2017. Emphasising the close links between to 3 Verulam Buildings and the financial world, Blair Senior was appointed Chair of the Bank of England’s Enforcement Decision Making Committee in 2018.
Another Blair (Michael Blair — though no relation to either Tony or William) is a senior QC at the chambers. He along with a fellow tenant Michael Purves were two of three editors of the Financial Services Law textbook.
Since the aforementioned refurbishment, the facilities available have improved. 3VB rookies highlighted the “good-sized to very large” individual rooms. Comments praised the “excellent facilities for meetings and great support staff for IT, billing and facilities management”. Credit for this “‘very well-run operation” goes to the management team led by chambers director Stewart Thompson. Unusually for the bar, the set signed a deal with a tech company to implement a new chambers management system that is “fit for the digital era.”