This leading public law set is home to 30 juniors and 24 QCs. It offers two pupillages per year, each with an award of £60,000, and recruits outside the Pupillage Gateway. It has a strong reputation for high quality advice and representation, and boasts particular expertise in planning, land valuation, infrastructure, environmental, public law, licensing, religious liberty and ecclesiastical law and regulatory law. Planning makes up the majority of the work, and barristers may need to make site visits. Francis Taylor Building members have worked on cases involving everything from wind farms, mines, social housing and the controversial but ultimately never-to-be London Garden Bridge to Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
This set often takes on cases where the issue is the subject of a fiercely fought public campaign, is controversial or will have an impact far beyond the parties involved. Recent examples include a judicial review against a decision to downgrade a walk-in medical unit in Corby, a benefits victory that will improve the lot of low income pensioners and the Supreme Court case on Northern Ireland’s abortion law.
Francis Taylor scores Bs for training, work and colleagues, an A for facilities and a C for social life, in the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey 2018-19. Don’t, however, let this rather average scoring put you off.
For a start, you get to work in a “beautiful building” in London’s elegant Temple, and the clerks (often crucial to a fledgling career at the bar) are “brilliant”. In fact, one former pupil describes a pupillage at Francis Taylor as “invaluable”. The work consists of a “really varied diet of interesting cases, inquiries and advice”, and the average working hours are par for the course at 50-59 hours. Moreover, tenancy is nearly always offered to pupils on completion.
Overall, it is “a pretty happy ship” where “very supportive” colleagues will congratulate members of chambers on appointments, good cases etc.” If stuck on a piece of work or looking for inspiration, then “you can ask colleagues for views on issues you have to deal with, and will get a high-quality response”, according to one former pupil. Another rookie explains that the “open door policy is not just recruitment spiel. Everyone is very willing to give up time to help. Members get stuck into talks and training seminars.”
On the social side, you can look forward to “Christmas dinner, drinks with colleagues and clerks from time to time, and a lot of solicitor/client socialising”. That said, you certainly won’t find yourself press-ganged into Friday night drinks. In the words of one pupil, “everyone is very friendly, but people keep themselves to themselves. A lot of members work from home, and they live all over the country,” which bodes well for any pupil looking to move out of London and the South East at some point.
Pupils work closely with their supervisor, and their 12 months are divided equally between three different supervisors. After four months, pupils will take on written work for other members of chambers as well as their supervisor. In the second six, pupils take on their own work and may be on their feet in a variety of courts, tribunals and inquiries. Pupils attend a series of seminars on the main areas of chambers practice. They must also complete a number of formal advocacy exercises within chambers during their year, including cross-examination of expert witnesses, at mock public inquiries and mock High Court hearings. This highly regarded chambers provides an excellent training and will be a prize draw for anyone considering a career in public law.