The Legal Cheek View
Blackstone Chambers is one of the sets making up what is informally known as the Bar’s Magic Circle. It consists of 62 juniors and 59 KCs — an impressive statistic! – and from October 2022 is headed up by Tom Weisselberg KC and Jane Mulcahy KC. Established more than 60 years ago, it is home to top quality barristers such as Lord Pannick KC, who became something of a household name during the Supreme Court Article 50 case (whether parliamentary approval was required before the government could set Brexit in motion). He added to his reputation as the go-to silk for history-making constitutional law cases when he acted alongside chambers colleague Tom Hickman KC in Gina Miller’s challenge to Boris Johnson’s proroguing of parliament. Other stars in the Blackstone constellation include government go-to lawyer Sir James Eadie KC, high-flyer Dinah Rose KC, and ‘the Godfather of Sports Law’, Michael Beloff KC.
Operating across a broad spectrum, Blackstone Chambers is perhaps best known as a commercial set and has a particularly strong reputation when it comes to financial services, civil fraud, and commercial dispute resolution. However, it has expanded beyond its purely commercial roots and members also have strong practices in employment and public law, as well as media law, data protection, sport law, and competition law, among others. Cases are said to be “incredibly diverse”. This wide range of work is visible even from pupillage. One former pupil tells us pupillage at Blackstone Chambers is “uniquely intellectually challenging, not least because of the range of work that we do”.
As well as being broad in nature, the work undertaken by members at Blackstone Chambers is also “cutting edge” and “often in the newspapers”. This means the work is “hugely challenging” but also often pretty juicy. Some headline grabbing cases over the past few years include acting for the Duchess of Sussex in her copyright claim against the publishers of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, the immigration case involving UK teenager Shamima Begum, and representing the Rugby Football Union in relation to charges brought against Barbarian players for allegedly breaching COVID-19 rules. If those aren’t blockbuster enough for you, two members acted in the copyright and contractual battle over the Star Wars franchise after a filming row broke out at a fan convention shortly before the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
What The Junior Barristers Say
Your journey to pupillage
I grew up in California and moved to the UK to study law as an undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh. After university, I came to London to work as an intern and then a legal researcher at a charity which works to decriminalise homosexuality around the world through strategic litigation. Although I found the law interesting and discovered that I enjoyed advocacy by doing some debating at university, I only decided that I wanted to go to the bar after working with barristers at this charity.
I converted my Scottish law degree by taking exams in land law and trusts and equity and then went to the University of Oxford to study for a Bachelor of Civil Law (a postgraduate taught degree) and a Master of Philosophy in law (a postgraduate research degree). While at Oxford I taught public law, worked as a consultant for another legal charity, and studied for the Bar Practice Course. I then spent six months working in asylum law in Greece before going to work as the judicial assistant to the Master of the Rolls in the Court of Appeal.
I was called to the bar ten years after starting my law degree, and would thoroughly recommend taking the scenic route to pupillage. From my academic study and professional experience, I knew that I wanted to do a mix of commercial law and public law, and did mini-pupillages at a handful of chambers with expertise in those areas.