Cloisters, in the heart of the Temple near to its world famous church, was founded on a commitment to civil liberties and had a historical leaning to the political left. The set’s more than 50 barristers, including 15 silks, are renowned for their involvement in ground-breaking and pioneering cases that regularly make headline news.
Its head of chambers, Robin Allen QC, has been instructed in more than 40 Supreme Court/House of Lords test cases. He represented Doug Paulley in the case where the Supreme Court ruled that wheelchair users have priority over buggies on buses and he acted for Gareth Lee in the “gay cake” case against a bakery that refused to make a pro gay-marriage cake, in the first time the court sat in Belfast.
Cloisters is far from being a one-trick pony — it is the go-to set for employment and discrimination law. Paul Epstein QC was involved in the landmark equal pay claim brought by thousands of female employees against supermarket giant Asda. It has the predominant claimant clinical negligence practice and a reputation for handling multi-million actions. Its professional discipline & regulatory practice is highly regarded and members of its sports, media & entertainment team act for the Football Association and other sporting bodies and personalities. In addition, its mediation practice is led by former Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Sedley.
A set with such credentials and reputation is a good place for rookies to learn and cut their teeth. Pupils and juniors give it a respective B and A for training and work in the 2019-20 Legal Cheek survey. The set takes on two pupils a year who receive £54,000, half of which is guaranteed earnings, and you can ask for £8,000 in advance.
You will complete four three-month stints with four different supervisors, alternating between employment and personal injury, and will also be encouraged to undertake pro bono work through the Free Representation Unit and law centres.
Cloisters bills itself as a “supportive and nurturing set where everyone is given the opportunity to thrive and become the best in their field” and it takes seriously its role to support and develop its pupils. They receive a formal appraisal at the end of each quarter and tenancy decisions are based on a series of assessed tasks undertaken during the second six months, together with feedback from supervisors and others.
Typically, juniors work a pretty average 50-59 hours a week and after hours there are the myriad of nearby Fleet Street watering holes to trot off to your warm and collegiate colleagues. Demonstrating the close-knit and friendly nature of the set, one junior says: “If I had a son I imagine our head of chambers would be happy to be his godfather!”
Cloisters only accepts applications through the Pupillage Gateway and, according to its website, “welcomes applications from outstanding candidates of all backgrounds and academic disciplines”.