Gough Square Chambers

The Legal Cheek View

An expert in all things consumer law and finance, Gough Square is a highly specialised set with one of the biggest pupillage awards in the market. Guaranteeing a whopping £100k between direct payments and guaranteed earnings in the second six, recruits can expect to be trained well, worked hard, and invested in from day one. On the smaller side with 27 juniors and 3 KCs, the set is only looking to take on up to one pupil.

This rookie will, however, get the full attention that Chambers can offer. “I had three pupil supervisors who were all highly invested in my development”, reports one, noting how “two of them still lead me in cases today.” “All my supervisors had different specialisms, so I was exposed to all of chambers’ work”, another notes, with a further junior reporting that “my practising second six was invaluable, with lots of instructions from clients who still instruct me now.” Beyond this set and structured training, “chambers also provide regular training to clients and all are welcome to attend thus helping to increase their knowledge base.” Impressive stuff!

The investment doesn’t stop there, however. The tenants at the set, whether supervisors or not, are willing and able to continually help rookies’ development. “Members are always available at the end of the phone or in chambers, where doors are kept open. Members eat lunch together on Wednesdays which always provides an opportunity to ask questions. Individual successes are always celebrated and there is a genuine sense of camaraderie.” This junior isn’t alone in their overtly positive comments either. Another reports that “all members of chambers are ready and willing to assist others with work-related and non-work-related issues, there is always someone to turn to if you need support.” Sounds idyllic! Did we forget to mention that “Chambers is collaborative and knowledge is shared around chambers informally so everyone can keep up to date”? As one recruit aptly put it, “this is a very friendly set and everybody is very supportive of everybody else.”

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All of this preparation, training, and support seems very necessary when you consider the quantity and quality of work that tenants are involved with. “Members are in the privileged position of operating from a specialist set but working in litigation across the civil and criminal jurisdictions. This means that the work is very varied and by virtue of being true specialists, always at the cutting edge of legal developments within our specialisms. One day I might be working on a high value financial services dispute, and another on advising government agencies on prosecuting a rogue trader.” Another happy member simply notes that “the work I do is varied and interesting”, and that “chambers has been instrumental in increasing my practice.”

It’s not all work here though, tenants do have a (very enjoyable looking) life too. “There are always impromptu trips to the pub or out for lunch. Members go for runs together and practice yoga. Personal life events are frequently celebrated with the whole of chambers often invited to wedding celebrations and birthday parties.” We even hear rumours of annual trips within chambers, including an annual conference in Puglia, which is said to “provide the perfect opportunity to socialise and learn from each other.”

Not all of the fun happens in Chambers though. “Members are encouraged to have a life out of work and the clerks are always keen to facilitate life outside of work where possible” chimes one, another noting that the “clerks are always willing to assist to help achieve a work-life balance. Members of chambers are all aware of the need to maintain a work-life balance and none place pressure on others to work excessively.”

To strike this balance, however, rookies will need to drag themselves away from the office. One junior notes how the set’s HQ “shares Gough Square’s charm and refinement.” Others rave about the “beautiful red brick building”, and the recent renovations (with more to come). Situated in historic Gough Square, the home of Dr Johnson, famous 18th century poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, literary critic, sermonist, biographer, editor, and lexicographer, “chambers is a small building but tastefully maintained and decorated to a high standard. The facade of chambers is imposing and in keeping with the area.”

As for the tech and IT offering at the set, juniors again have nothing to complain about. We’ve had reports of Chambers being “responsive and helpful”, with the online libraries being “very useful”.

For those roused to throw their hat into the ring for the coveted single pupillage spot, you can find the set on Pupillage Gateway. Applications consist of two rounds of interviews in front of a diverse panel of members, with candidates typically encountering up to eight members across the two panels.

What The Junior Barristers Say

Ann-Marie O’Neil

Your journey to pupillage

I completed my undergraduate degree with the Open University while working full time as a project manager in the construction industry. During my second year of study, I competed in my first moot competition. I went on to win, with the final being held at the Supreme Court before Lady Hale. That experience was the catalyst for pursuing the Bar. After that, I undertook a series of mini-pupillages to get a flavour of barrister life and narrow down the kind of chambers that I was looking for. I continued mooting to bolster my pupillage applications and won two further international mooting competitions.

After I completed my Bar Course, I spent a year as a County Court advocate – which I highly recommend. In addition, Lincoln’s Inn was an incredible resource. One of the most valuable opportunities was a scholarship which included a three-month internship at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The pupillage application process takes considerable time and effort to stand out, and my Inn of Court was invaluable in helping me refine my applications: I would encourage everyone to ask for a pupillage application mentor.

I had two rounds at Gough Square, both during the height of the COVID pandemic. As such, both of my interviews took place remotely. The first was a short 15-minute interview with three Members. The second round was far more in-depth and included a problem question which was received half an hour in advance. Both rounds were challenging but the panel were approachable and encouraging, an experience that continued throughout my pupillage.

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The pupillage experience

I chose to apply to Gough Square for three reasons. First, because the culture of Gough Square was attractive. I was looking for a Chambers with a focus on collegiality and mutual success instead of internal competition.

Secondly, I wanted a Chambers that was medium sized. I disliked the idea of being in a Chambers so vast that Members may never meet each other, and I didn’t want to be just a face on the Members’ website page to any of my colleagues.

Finally, looking at the Members’ profiles, I found like-minded individuals. For example, Alison Lambert graduated through the Open University as I had. Having been rejected from a Chambers previously with the reason cited being ‘it’s where your degree is from’, I felt confident that Gough Square would focus on my performance and ability instead of more superficial elements. In addition, I saw that many of the newer Members had similar extra-curricular experiences as me, such as County Court advocacy, and all had gone on to have flourishing practices.

Gough Square only takes on one pupil at a time with an expectation that they will obtain tenancy. As such, there is a Chambers-wide focus that every opportunity is a confidence building exercise, setting the pupil up for success.

My pupillage was split into three segments. The first four months was spent shadowing Iain MacDonald whose practice spans civil and criminal. There was a good mix of court attendance, conferences and paperwork to see. Towards the end of my time with Iain, I would draft paperwork alongside him and then compare the finished product. It was exciting to work on live cases and satisfying to see a noticeable improvement in my work in such a short space of time.

The next two months were spent shadowing Lee Finch who has a solely civil practice. The biggest milestone for me was within these two months. Just before my second six was due to start, we conducted an advocacy assessment to make sure I was ready to be on my feet. It took the form of a mock trial and other Members of Chambers played the Judge, opposing counsel and witness. One of my favourite memories during my pupillage was completing the BSB forms with Lee to approve the start of my second six.

The entirety of my pupillage was peppered with opportunities to assist in research for other Members of Chambers as well as shadowing them on interesting cases. These helped me gain exposure to the kind of work I might expect at differing levels of seniority as well as getting to know my fellow Members.

The transition from pupil to tenant

The anticipation of the transition was the worst part. I had expected to feel a big change from being supervised to on my own, but this was far from reality. The bigger transition was moving from first six to practising second six when I started to have my own clients and became responsible for a caseload. I had a busy second six and was in court more often than not. That cadence continued through to my tenancy with the first day feeling no different, other than being a cause for celebration. It’s important to remember that the year of pupillage is intended to gear you up for tenancy. My supervisors and clerks did an amazing job making me feel confident and comfortable during my pupillage so that when the training wheels came off, I already had momentum.

What is your practice like now?

My practice is an extremely busy and varied one which straddles civil and criminal. I have to remind myself that this is a nice problem to have because it can occasionally feel overwhelming. I am in court most days with a mix of applications and trials. When I am not in court, I am usually busy with paperwork and preparation for upcoming hearings. My work/life balance has to have a bit of flex to it. If I’m in person on a Monday morning, it is often the case that I need to cut my Sunday short so I can travel to where I need to be the next day. This is balanced out on days when I have remote hearings which is around 50% of the time. The travel can be a good opportunity to complete other paperwork. For example, I am writing this interview on the 5.30am train to Leicester. In terms of the future, I would like to keep my practice as broad as possible for the next 3-5 years and say yes to every opportunity that comes my way.

What is the culture of chambers?

Gough Square has a pervasive sense of collegiality which is punctuated by an expectation that everyone works hard and to an extremely high standard. I have friends in other Chambers who are surprised when I talk about the camaraderie at Gough Square. Barristers are usually self-employed which can lead to an inherent sense of competition and Members becoming siloed. Fred Philpott, the founder of Chambers, wanted to move away from this more old-fashioned style of operating to one of active support and mutual success.

The foundations of Gough Square are the incredible staff. The clerks, headed up by Bob Weekes, weave magic distributing the work around Chambers and dealing with the myriad issues that arise on a daily basis. The marketing team, consisting of John Clements and Mehak Hussain, push the profile of Chambers in ever-creative ways, most recently booking out the entirety of St Paul’s Cathedral for our summer party.

Top tips for those wanting to become a barrister/secure a pupillage at your chambers

Make sure you check out Gough Square’s pupillage page on our website. It sets out the criteria that we look for when we are marking application forms. We put a lot of effort into making sure we compare applicants as objectively as possible, so helping us to tick off those criteria is the best way to get your foot in the door for a first round. During the interview rounds, we try to make candidates feel comfortable and relaxed as we want to see you perform at your best. I remember leaving both interview rounds at Gough Square having enjoyed the lively debate.



Taking place in July 2024
Applications open 02/03/2024
Applications close 01/06/2024


Taking place December 2024
Applications open 02/06/2024
Applications close 01/11/2024

Insider Scorecard

Quality of work
Work/life balance
Social life
Legal Tech

Insider Scorecard grades range from A* to C and are derived from the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey 2023-24 completed by barristers at the set.

Key Info

Juniors 27
KCs 3
Pupillages 1
Oxbridge-educated new tenants* 2/5

*Figure is for the five most junior members of chambers; does not include postgraduate studies.


Pupillage award £100,000
Bar course drawdown £20,000

This £100,000 award includes guaranteed second six earnings.


Female juniors 33%
Female KCs 0%
BME juniors 20%
BME KCs 0%