The Legal Cheek View

One of the largest sets in the UK, with 255 barristers spread across London, Bournemouth, Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford, and Winchester, 3PB is not one to be ignored by those on the pupillage hunt. Tracing its roots back to Christmas day in 1892, and with a host of highly regarded former members, including a Nobel Prize winner, the set boasts a broad practice. On the agenda are crime, family, IP, chancery, education, and employment, as well as developing commercial, property, personal injury, and medical negligence practices.

It’s clear that junior members can expect to be involved in a good chunk of this offering. Rookies speak of “an excellent variety of work with high complexity that is challenging and interesting to undertake”, leaving them with “a diverse practice where every day is different and I think there is social value in the work I do.” It’s certainly not take what you’re given, however, with juniors praising the clerks’ ability to tailor and build a personal practice. “With the breadth and volume of work coming in, there are enough new cases in my preferred areas” says one, another reporting that “chambers has assisted me to build the practice I want.” There are certainly no complaints to be found here.

Recent highlights from this national powerhouse include prosecuting a conspiracy relating to the importation and distribution of £118m worth of cocaine, representing the UK government in the Grand Chambers of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to compensation for miscarriages of justice, and representing the Open University in a case against a former employee asserting discrimination on the basis of his English nationalist beliefs. On all accounts, a wide range of juicy work for the lucky tenants.

Continue reading

For those worried that such a broad and complex variety of work may be daunting, fear not, we hear the training is top notch. “Training for pupils and junior tenants is excellent” reports one, “there are lots of training opportunities within chambers, and a great deal of effort is put into training”. Rookies speak of a “thorough, comprehensive and proactive” approach, with Head of Pupillage Cheryl Jones being described as “an absolute force of nature”. Rumour has it, “she makes each batch of pupils the best they can possibly be, with the assistance of the whole of chambers”. Strong words from one, clearly very happy, customer.

The year long pupillage programme comes with a healthy minimum reward of £40k, along with an additional £17k worth of bonuses, including healthcare, training, travel expenses, and financial advice. During this training, recruits spend time with four supervisors, take on their own workload, and are given marshalling opportunities and mock advocacy exercises.

It’s not just the training that helps the 3PB intake cruise to success, we’re told that the support available in chambers is difficult to top. Rookies speak of “an excellent collegiate atmosphere”, where there are always “multiple highly experienced individuals available to assist on any issue with a variety of means to contact people.” As one practitioner candidly put it “I have never been let down by chambers”.

What’s more, the balance created within chambers between work and rest doesn’t seem to be hurting the juniors’ jolly moods. “Clerking is very responsive to our personal as well as professional needs. We have well-being officers and a mentoring system for junior members. Clerks and members encourage balancing work with making sure enough breaks are taken.” This cheery commenter isn’t alone, others similarly speaking of “clerks and members encouraging balancing work with making sure enough breaks are taken”, as well as “lots of great wellbeing talk and info from members”. We have also heard blasphemous whispers of juniors not being overloaded to the point of exhaustion, with one crazy comment even suggesting that recruits “have never encountered a problem taking time off work when they need to”. Who would want to work in an environment where their wellbeing is prioritised, and life comes before work? Actually…

On that note, juniors have little negative to say about the social life available at the set. Whilst there are (unsurprising) murmurings that life was better before covid and working from home, the 3PB bunch are overwhelmingly positive. “Chambers manages to bring people together with lots of social and networking activity notwithstanding the geographical spread”, says one, with another commenting that “Our social life is actually very good. The only reason I have not given 10 is that we are still recovering from the working from home/COVID interruptions so the quantity of socialising has dropped. Quality is still great (our in house band won Battle of the Bands in Bristol last week).” Much like the musical maestros in Bristol, this balanced life and practice is music to our ears.

Continuing with the positivity, juniors rave about the quality of the office spaces. Following a spate of revamps and refurbishments, with more in the pipeline, the offices are now simply described as “very swish!” Whether in these modern spacious offices or at home, rookies praise the IT and tech support on offer. “We have very good outsourced support on tap”, chimes one, with others complementing the support that is “only a call or email away”, and the “dedicated member of staff and full access to online IT support on offer”. Simply put, says one, “I cannot praise our head of operations enough on this”.

The set is also unique as it is one of the few chambers that publishes its financial results. 2023-2024 Saw a new high for the national chambers, with turnover of £35.8m and receipts of £36.1m, a rise of 17.8% and 14.3% respectively from last year’s results of £30.4m and £31.6m.

Those who are looking to join the set should keep an eye out on Pupillage Gateway. After the initial paper sift, candidates can then expect to be given two interviews, the first being more general, and the second focussing on an advocacy exercise and prepared brief. In total, applicants will be marked by up to ten members of chambers across the application phase.



Rolling Deadline
Applications close 30/09/2024

Insider Scorecard

Quality of work
Work/life balance
Social life
Legal Tech

Insider Scorecard grades range from A* to C and are derived from the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey 2023-24 completed by barristers at the set.

Key Info

Juniors 240
KCs 15
Pupillages 6
Oxbridge-educated new tenants* 0/5

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


Pupillage award £40,000
Bar course drawdown £0


Female juniors 44%
Female KCs 33%
BME juniors 7%
BME KCs 0%

The Chambers In Its Own Words