4 Pump Court offers a “very diverse high-end commercial practice”, in the words of one junior tenant, and diverse is definitely a decent summary of a set that tackles both shipping and professional negligence, along with the likes of IT, insurance and construction (probably its biggest cash cow). Newly minted barristers at this full-service chambers can expect a variety of commercial work to come their way: “One day I am working on a multi million dollar dispute set in the Middle East, grappling with difficult issues of international law and the next day I am on a train to a different part of the country to appear solo in a one day trial”, says a respondent to the 2018-19 Legal Cheek junior barrister survey.
Classic commercial cases of late include litigation time bars under the Hague Rules and freezing injunctions following an arbitration award, while 4 Pump Court barristers also wigged up for the Court of Appeal’s landmark recognition of a Chinese arbitration award earlier this year. Disputes over fraud in classic car sales are less common, but those instructed in construction cases could find themselves nose to nose with Danny Murphy or arguing causation at the Supreme Court. The set also boasts of its expertise in Islamic finance disputes, for those who can tell their murabaha from their sukuk.
Away from the bar, the 4 Pump Court social life is hopping: “Chambers has a table every day at lunch, there are drinks every week, and regular marketing events and parties”. The chambers gets a coveted A* for social life in our survey – no slumming it with solicitors here. “However”, cautions one of the more reputationally aware advocates, “you’re not going to find half of chambers in Dalys at 6pm on a Tuesday, which I think is a good thing”. All the same, “chambers is extremely friendly”, with a cast of tenants “who can’t do enough to help pupils and junior colleagues”.
Most of your chambers buddies are likely to be blokes: only one in four juniors is female, and even with the addition of Fiona Sinclair last year you can count the female QCs on the fingers of one hand (although in the latter respect they’re no more male-dominated than many commercial sets). Facilities-wise, insiders admit that “we’re not the glammest place, but generally tenants get their own room after two year”.
Pupillage here involves two three-month stints shadowing a supervisor, followed by a full six months on your feet in the County Court, with formal assessments in written and oral advocacy. The pupillage award is Champions League, at £70,000 plus any fees earned in the second six. Even more importantly, pupils say that they’re given “largely proper work on active cases” – an implicit rebuke to some competing sets – and the “extremely supportive” supervisors “take time to give real feedback on work”.