The Legal Cheek View
Nestled in between Chancery Lane and Lincoln’s Inn, and accessible through the Dickensian Bishop’s Court’s alley, Gatehouse’s environs are about as barristery as it gets. So, entering the set is something of a surprise. Rather than wood panels and portraits of great judges of yesteryear, the visitor finds themselves in what feels like a little piece of the City of London transported to the Inns of Court. Previously named Hardwicke Chambers, on discovering that its namesake Lord Hardwicke, the 18th century Lord Chancellor, was one of two authors of the Yorke-Talbot opinion 1729 which was relied upon as providing legal justification for slavery, the set decided it was “time for a change”. The new name signifies “strength and trustworthiness” and “access to new adventures and opportunities”.
Responding to the 2020-21 Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey, a barrister praises the “spacious rooms and superb client facilities”. Internal bike racks and a table tennis table add a hipness rarely found in this part of town, while a full-time chef is on hand to cater for regular events. Unlike many sets, Gatehouse has full disability access.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, of course, Gatehouse tenants worked from home. So, how did that go? “IT provision is excellent and served us very well in lockdown,” says one. Moreover, the affable nature of the set helped ease any sense of isolation. “We have an open-door policy and give support with legal issues, ethical issues, practice issues and also have many members who are happy to provide emotional support,” a barrister explains. “During lockdown there have been many small and large groups providing support to each other via WhatsApp and Zoom as well as individuals.” Another barrister says: “My colleagues are part of my family and this view has only been reaffirmed since lockdown. We have multiple virtual meet ups per week and my Microsoft Teams account buzzes throughout the day with messages and call requests for catch ups.”
What The Junior Barristers Say
Simon Kerry spent four years as a tax associate at accountancy giant PwC before joining Gatehouse as a pupil. A “love for advocacy” prompted his career switch, he says, adding: “I like the excitement of being on my own and being responsible for performance and advice.”
The support during pupillage “could not have been better”, Kerry reveals. The 12-month pupillage sees pupils complete three City law firm-style seats with three different supervising barristers. This unique approach allows pupils to develop a broader understanding of Gatehouse’s specialisms and the different ways its tenants approach their work.
Pupils start their first six observing and learning from barristers in a “safe space where there’s no stupid question”, according to Kerry. This coupled with continuous feedback and open communication means pupils at Gatehouse are given the best possible start. “Everyone wants you to succeed and to give you every reason to succeed,” he adds. Pupils receive specialist advocacy training at the start of their second six through a series of advocacy exercises held in chambers. This prepares pupils for court and ensures they avoid simple mistakes.