42BR Barristers

The Legal Cheek View

42BR Barristers is a large multi-disciplinary set made up of 119 barristers, including 6 KCs. The sheer size of the set and the range of areas it works across is very impressive. The set divides down into seven distinct practice area teams: business and property, housing, employment, family, personal injury and clinical negligence, coroner’s inquests, and animal welfare. Each team contains talented tenants tackling exciting cases. Barristers are not, however, confined to just one team – many work across two or more, allowing them to maintain a broad practice.

Within the business and property team, tenants work on a range of exciting matters ranging from commercial litigation to professional negligence to construction matters. Matthew McDermott and Robert Winspear recently successfully appeared in the Court of Appeal in an important case about the quantum of Rent Repayment Orders. Meanwhile, the housing group deals with common housing disputes surrounding unlawful eviction and homelessness, as well as more specialised disputes such as those related to environmental law or housing discrimination. Christopher Mann recently appeared in an appeal concerning a challenge by the owner of a property to the amount of damages awarded to a tenant for the owner’s breach of duty as a landlord.

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Perhaps the jewels in the 42BR crown are their employment and family teams. One tenant tells us “42BR has great relationships with leading employment law firms – there is plenty of solid work coming through the door”. Tenants work across the full spectrum of employment law and are highly respected in this field. This work can range from claims of unfair dismissal to discrimination to whistleblowing protection. In the family law team, members again work across the spectrum of family law, but have particular expertise in children law.

One junior tells us: “I often deal with complex children matters following the breakdown of a relationship”. Four of the set’s six KCs belong to the family team, adding to its strength. This year has seen three members appear in the Supreme Court on a case involving final care orders and the approach to be taken when children are being removed from their parents. Very important work.

The personal injury and clinical negligence team also houses a KC, Lisa Henderson KC – she has worked on numerous multi-million-pound settlements over the years. Work ranges from road traffic accidents to industrial disease. The coroner’s inquests team has worked on a number of significant inquiries including members being instructed as counsel to The Sandilands Croydon Tram Disaster Inquest. The recently added animal welfare team sees two KCs from the family team, Damian Woodward-Carlton KC and Gemma Farrington KC, wear two hats. The team was founded post-Brexit and in light of the new Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022), and continues to build a strong reputation.

All in all, the work on offer at 42BR is varied and exciting, with one tenant describing their work as “adrenaline-fuelled”. Another goes further, stating that “every case is different and every client is different. If you are interested in people, their backgrounds, their relationships and how they function in society, it is certainly stimulating. It allows you to perform a wonderful variety of different tasks/roles/skills, including advocacy, negotiation, writing, analysis, research, case management and strategy. Life at the family Bar is always stimulating and never dull or monotonous.”

Tenants who mix and match practices seem to be especially pleased with their work, with one telling us: “I am a member of two practice areas and they both offer a complimenting and varied practice”. Whether a specialist or generalist, however, the work is said to be “varied, relevant, and challenging”, with one jolly junior simply stating, “I just love it”. Difficult praise to beat!

As ever at the Bar, striking a good work-life balance can be a struggle. One junior at the set tells us: “as ever, work feels like feast or famine, but the reality is a pretty steady stream of work. Mid trial, there is little work-life balance but if your diary goes quiet then taking a day off to compensate for those late nights and weekends is fine – indeed, encouraged”.

The clerks are said to be very supportive, with one tenant describing them as “probably the best there are”. Another junior tells us: “the clerks are fantastic at making sure we get as good a balance as we need”, and that “there is never any pressure to do more work than you’re happy to do. Our Chambers are very conscious of the importance of a healthy work-life balance and they have been providing massage sessions for a long time as part of the focus on the wellbeing of its members. I feel that I am working in a very supportive environment.”

Ultimately, work-life balance seems to be a matter of personal choice and need. One female tenant confides: “I’m a working mum and I have had the most amazing support when I have childcare to sort, working reduced hours or days. It’s so flexible. There is no judgement. It is just how it is supposed to be”.

As well as the clerks, the tenants at 42BR are said to be a supportive bunch. We hear that there are WhatsApp groups for each practice team where tenants help each other out and arrange socials. One tenant tells us: “we have a lively practice WhatsApp group where you can get anything from the inside track on what a judge is like to a detailed answer to a technical question. If you need a more in-depth answer you can always find a colleague available to chat on the phone or in chambers”. Another tenant, who has moved to 42BR from another set, confides: “as a large common law set there is a huge pool of possible support. In the family group we offer in-house training, mentoring, social events, and a hands-on approach to helping each other – it’s not always like 42BR”.

When it comes to socialising together, we hear that 42BR has come back strong post-COVID, with, at the time of writing, the events roster for the next few months including: a Barristers & Staff Party, Family Party, Employment Annual Lecture, Housing workshop and drinks, Legal Style Awards event, Animal Welfare Party, PI/Clin Neg Party, and (most importantly) a Christmas Party! One junior notes casually that the social life is “definitely on the up”. We think so too. Of course, it’s not for everyone. One tenant jokes “there are some people who never engage and others who’d turn up to the opening of an envelope. You choose how you want your chambers life to go and there is no impact on your development either way”.

In terms of 42BR’s location, they are situated just around the corner from Lincoln’s and Gray’s Inns and, after a very recent move, are crushing cases from a swanky modern premises. The new Chambers is “specially designed” with “every member of Chambers involved in deciding what we wanted in our new premises, what sort of workspaces, technology and design.” This barrister-led refurbishment, we’re told, has resulted in an environment that can only be described as “lush”. Complementary to this new dedicated design is a “brilliant” in house IT team, which juniors can’t seem to rave about enough.

Those looking to apply for pupillage at 42BR should make their application through the Pupillage Gateway. Chambers typically takes on two pupils per year and offers an award of £40,000, in addition to guaranteed earnings in the second six. Pupils can expect to see a broad range of practice areas during pupillage, and can express their preference for particular practice areas. This will be taken into account where possible. In their second six, pupils will appear in court in their own right – we hear that being on your feet around 3 times a week is the average – which provides fantastic advocacy training. Training doesn’t stop at pupillage either, with a range of in-house and external seminars also on offer into tenancy.

42BR are proud to support the 10,000 Black Interns Initiative, participate in the London Legal Walk, and support CHICKS children’s charity, which provides free breaks for disadvantaged children all over the UK. The set also encourages its barristers to participate in pro bono work.

What The Junior Barristers Say

Catrin Howells

Your journey to pupillage

I grew up in South Wales, and attended my local comprehensive school for GCSEs and A-Levels. I had decided from around age 16 that I wanted to be a barrister, having done an informal mini-pupillage, and despite the barristers I met warning me what was ahead! I did my undergraduate degree in Law at the University of Oxford. After my undergraduate, I did the BPTC LLM in London.

During my BPTC year, I volunteered at the University of Law Legal Advice Clinic, where I would attend court with a duty advisor in the family court, and assist litigants in person with their cases by negotiating on their behalf and representing them in court. I also took part in mooting during my BPTC year, both at my Inn and with my BPTC provider. Prior to and during my BPTC year, I undertook several mini-pupillages in mixed-common law sets and family sets.

After my BPTC I worked as a paralegal for two years – my first year at a high street firm in East London in their matrimonial finance team, and my second year at a boutique firm specialising in international family law. Whilst I hadn’t planned to work between my studies and starting pupillage, I’m grateful that I did because of the experiences this gave me. For example, learning from experienced solicitors best practice in conducting litigation, and talking to and supporting clients through difficult times in their lives.

I did three rounds of pupillage applications: the first during my final year at university, the second during my BPTC year, and the third during my first year of work. Due to my interviews being in March to May 2020, my interviews were all virtual, and so the first time I set foot in 42BR was on my first day of pupillage! The pupillage application process at 42BR consisted of a ten minute first-round interview talking mainly about my application. There was then a thirty minute second-round interview where I was given a non-legal discussion question to prepare half an hour prior, and the interview centred on my thoughts on the question, as well as an ethical problem question and more general interview questions.

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The pupillage experience

I applied to 42BR because of its strong reputation in family law, coupled with the chance to explore other areas of civil that are centred around people and day-to-day issues, such as employment and housing.

My first six was divided with three months in family and three months in civil. My pupillage looked perhaps different to how it would today as I started in 2021, and so hearings were still largely remote and many members of chambers were working largely from home. My first three months were spent with a family practitioner, attending court on largely public law matters. I was able to observe a wide variety of multi-day hearings and get a better understanding of the day to day working of the family courts.

My second three months were spent with two supervisors, one specialising in personal injury, and the other, now a silk, specialising in employment and housing. I observed a number of multi-day hearings and conferences on a broad range of civil matters. During the course of my first six, I was given tasks to complete, such as preparing cross-examination, position statements, draft orders, and closing submissions, and I was given feedback on these by my supervisors. These pieces of work were not formally assessed, neither was there an application form or interview for tenancy.

During my second six, I was in court most days on private family matters, RTA small claims, employment tribunal cases, Stage 3 personal injury hearings, and housing cases.

The transition from pupil to tenant

The transition from pupil to tenant was virtually seamless! The only overnight difference I really saw was that I was added to the chambers mailing lists and many WhatsApp groups.

I had a meeting with the clerks to go through practicalities being a tenant, such as communicating with the clerks and chambers fees.

What is your practice like now?

I will usually be in court on average four days a week, with the fifth day being used as preparation time. My practice remains varied, although I have stripped away some practice areas and now work only in private family and employment, with some housing work. My decision to step away from some areas of work came following my 6-monthly review with the clerks around a year after being on my feet. I didn’t find that there was a pressure to specialise, but neither is there a pressure to remain practising in all areas.

My intentions coming into pupillage (as can probably be seen from my background!) were to specialise solely in family, however, I currently enjoy the balance that my family and employment practices give me.

In terms of work life balance, this inevitably varies week on week, as sometimes the unpredictable nature of human-centred law such as family means that evening and weekend work is necessary. However in general, I’ve been able to manage my diary and commitments so that this is the exception rather than the rule, and have always felt supported in doing so.

There is a mentoring scheme in place in chambers, for those who are under five years call to be mentored by those five years’ call and above. My mentor (author of 42BR’s previous Legal Cheek interview!) and I try to meet for coffee once every month or two months, and it’s a space to talk about legal and non-legal issues.

What is the culture of chambers?

From the start I have found 42BR to be a very supportive and approachable group of people. Members of all seniority are available any time to chat through any tricky issues you’re facing or provide that piece of case law that’s on the tip of your tongue.

Many members of chambers are away from chambers much of the time, due to a combination of many of us being in court, or working from home. However, there’s monthly drinks in chambers, and other more ad hoc social events for the junior juniors. Later this year, we’ll be moving into a new building which will be an exciting time for all involved.

Top tips for those wanting to become a barrister/secure a pupillage at your chambers

There’s not much to say about getting pupillage and life at the Bar that hasn’t already been said ten times over. Personally, I found that my interviews at 42BR were the ones I was the most “myself” for, which is perhaps reflective of how at ease I was made to feel during the process!

It can also be helpful to really think about the more practical aspects of life at the Bar, rather than the more obvious legal aspects. For example, your law degree/GDL/BPTC will prepare you well enough for the courtroom, but how will you fare telling clients their prospects of success on the day of trial?



Taking place between May and July 2024
Applications close 21/04/2024


Taking place between September and October 2024
Applications close 21/06/2024


Taking place between November 2024 and January 2025
Applications close 21/10/2024

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 113
KCs 6
Pupillages 2
Oxbridge-educated new tenants* 2/5

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


Pupillage award £55,000
Bar course drawdown on request

The 42BR Barristers award is divided into an award of £40,000 and guaranteed earnings of £15,000.


Female juniors 49%
Female KCs 83%
BME juniors 20%
BME KCs 0%