The Legal Cheek View
For sheer quality and variety of cases, civil law chambers 5 Essex Court is hard to beat. It is particularly well known for its police law work, which throws up a range of fascinating issues, and also specialises in public inquiries, inquests, employment, public and administrative law, and personal injury and clinical negligence.
With over 40 barristers including five QCs, this London set aims to recruit two pupils each year and offers the chance to get stuck in to interesting cases from the off. “5 Essex offers the most brilliant work — there is no sense of ‘you have to put in ten years’ graft before you get anything juicy,'” one junior tells us.
For a flavour of what to expect once you’ve been offered tenancy, in recent years juniors in chambers have appeared in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the Anthony Grainger Inquiry, the Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry, the Undercover Policing Inquiry, the Al Sweady Inquiry, the Baha Mousa Inquiry, the Leveson Inquiry and the Hillsborough Inquests.
What The Junior Barristers Say
“There’s no pomp and circumstance” at 5 Essex Court, says John Goss, who studied law as a postgrad at Nottingham Law School after serving as a Royal Engineer officer in the British Army for six years, some of which was spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. Having turned his energies to training for the bar, Goss joined 5 Essex Court as a pupil in 2015. “It’s a genuinely unstuffy, open and informal chambers,” he adds.
This is despite the fact that the work is high profile and not for the faint-hearted. In the second four months of his pupillage, Goss was working on one of the inquests to come out of four deaths at the Army’s Deepcut barracks in Camberley in the late 1990s. “I would do a first draft of something and then my supervisor, Francesca Whitelaw, would look at it. So at a very early stage, I had a real sense of contributing to what chambers was doing,” he recalls.
Goss says that the chambers provides particularly broad-based advocacy training: “For a civil set, 5 Essex Court has plenty of opportunity for court exposure. For instance, we do inquests and these are very different from civil courts because they often have a jury where the police are involved. There are plenty of opportunities to really examine evidence. Because they are neither purely civil nor criminal courts, it’s quite an unusual experience.”