Common law set 9 Gough Chambers is a great place to start your career if you want to experience a breadth of memorable cases. Clinical negligence, professional disciplinary and personal injury make up the majority of instructions at the chambers, with pupils experiencing work across the civil, criminal and family disciplines. Tenants appear in a diverse range of courts, including before special professional disciplinary panels such as HCPC and employment tribunals, spurred by the growth of the set’s regulatory team.
Recent member appearances include representing families of those who died in the Croydon Tram derailment during a 12 week inquest and acting for current and ex-professional sports stars in the high profile class action suit concerning brain injuries caused by contact sports. Another member also successfully settled a ‘cauda equina’ clinical negligence claim for £2.75 million after the claimant suffered a spinal disc prolapse.
On the criminal side, Tom Little QC prosecuted in the high profile murder of Sarah Everard, three members successfully prosecuted an organised criminal network in relation to “Operation Edge”, while Claire Harden-Frost prosecuted a man for operating a cannabis factory in the first case of police seizing a cryptocurrency wallet containing £1.2 million in the form of Bitcoin. Family law is a fast-growing practice at 9 Gough Chambers, and incoming rookies can look forward to attending the Court of Protection or the High Court on care proceedings. 9 Gough also receives instructions in public and local government.
Commenting on the work available in the 2021-22 Legal Cheek Junior Barristers Survey, one member says: “The variety of work is amazing”. Another junior adds: “[T]he work is very varied, between civil, family and criminal cases. We also do a diverse range of paperwork.” Other members commented how their work makes them feel they are making a difference with new challenges every day and opportunities to meet “the most interesting people”. The quality of the personal injury and clinical negligence work available is shown through members being instructed in cases worth six-figures.
The set is relatively large, containing 75 tenants, of whom seven are silks. A third of members are able to take direct access instructions. Barristers at 9 Gough Chambers usually work between 60-69 hours a week, an above average number at the bar. Outside of these long hours however, they benefit from a vibrant social life, where there is “always someone to go to the pub with on a Friday!” which is “great for a pupil because that is where you can learn a lot of tips and shortcuts on how to do the job”. Another insider tells us “there is a strong junior end developing who socialise together” but also with “many members of chambers at all seniority socialising frequently together”. Apparently there is also a penchant for karaoke. The strong collegiate environment continued during the pandemic with virtual meetups and a “very successful wine tasting night”.
After having previously been located at 9 Gough Square (the set’s original name), it moved to a new 8,000 square foot, newly refurbished premises at 5 Norwich Street in 2020 and changed its name to 9 Gough Chambers. The new digs is situated over three floors, has six conference rooms and boasts a large roof terrace overlooking the Royal Courts of Justice and London Eye, leading one member to say “it is the envy of other chambers”. The new building brought with it “state of the art video conferencing”, cloud storage and support available by phone and email meaning “any IT hiccups are short-lived”.
Culture is a strong point at this set. As one respondent to the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey puts it: “The support in chambers is one of the most attractive things about 9 Gough.” Apparently the junior end is “incredibly supportive” alongside the more senior members where “no one is too high and mighty to spend ten minutes on the phone”. No matter the triviality of the problem, there is always someone willing to assist.
Pupils spend four months with three different supervisors across the year. The second six sees pupils gain considerable advocacy experience, acting in both county courts and magistrates. During pupillage, rookies complete a number of assessed exercises and are provided with feedback. Once in, tenants practise across all areas of the set’s practice areas for the first three years and are provided with a designated mentor to provide help along the way. Demonstrating the calibre of those who gain pupillage, former pupil Thomas Jones worked as a stagiaire at the European Court of Justice following an LLM at the College of Europe in Bruges.
Rookies at the set praise the training provided, highlighting the “good seminars internally and externally”. One newbie to 9 Gough who didn’t complete pupillage with the set says: “I have received regular internal training sessions, which have allowed me to progress into multi-track personal injury work.” Balancing work, training and life can be challenging at the bar but 9 Gough Chambers barristers say the clerks help them to find that balance and ensure “time taken as holiday remains just that”. One tenant told the Legal Cheek Junior Barristers Survey: “Young children and a heavy caseload can be difficult to juggle. Family nearly always comes first and clerks understand that”.
9 Gough Chambers looks for “highly-motivated candidates” with “proven analytical and intellectual ability” with “a flair for advocacy”, who can “demonstrate a commitment to the Bar” alongside “common sense” and “sound judgment”. The set operates its own application system but inline with the Bar Council’s Pupillage Gateway timeline. For those aged 16 to 19 who attend a non-fee paying school in Greater London, check out the set’s ‘Aqeel H Noorali’ essay competition, which was launched in memory of one of the set’s barristers.