Few sets can rival Hailsham Chambers’ focus on professional negligence and clinical negligence. The two practices each account for 40% of instructions taken on by the chambers, with the balance being made up of costs, regulatory work, personal injury and commercial.
When the set was established over a century ago, it took its then name from the premises it occupied at 4 Paper Buildings. Though the chambers is still based there, it was renamed in 2001 as Hailsham Chambers, taking its name from Quintin Hogg, a former tenant who inherited the title of Lord Hailsham and went on to become Lord Chancellor. Parallel to this, the set has moved from being a generalist practice covering both civil and criminal work, to specialising in civil litigation.
Today, Hailsham has 50 tenants, eight of whom are QCs. These silks include head of chambers David Pittaway, who was instructed on the Hillsborough Inquests and The Shipman Inquiry, and Julian Picton, the editor of the McGregor on Damages textbook.
The firm has considerable strength in clinical negligence cases. Two junior barristers are qualified doctors. Another trio of juniors also have strong links to the medical field. Clementine Coram James was seconded to the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Financial Conduct Authority; Jack Steer has sat on an NHS Research Ethics Committee and Michael Patrick worked as a student statistician at NHS Blood and Transplant during his undergraduate maths degree. As if to underscore further, Hailsham even has its own X-Ray Lightbox.
Beyond clinical negligence, the work has “real variety”, with a mixed case load that “could involve a multi-million pound matter one day or a tiny one the next”. Pupils can find themselves doing everything from bankruptcy hearings to personal injury claims following a road traffic accident to attending the Court of Appeal on high profile matters.
Barristers at the set clock up between 50-59 hours a week. A rookie tells us that they “have a good work life balance compared to most of their friends at the bar”. Another junior informs us that “colleagues could not be more supportive” and that “you could approach anyone in chambers for guidance”.
Indeed, adds another insider: “there have been many times when I’ve called someone late at night, met for coffee after hours and talked through cases.” Outside of work, the social life is pleasant, with “a good group of friends” who will “often go out for lunch or grab a bottle of wine together in the evenings” and “share a lot of jokes.”
Facilities at the set are acceptable. The building has “plenty of kitchens and loos”. While some tenants have “luxurious” offices with views overlooking Temple Gardens and the River Thames, others have to contend with basement rooms “facing the car park.” One otherwise content rookie informs us that “the only real negative is a printer which keeps breaking down”.
Turning now onto pupillages at the set. Hailsham offers up to two each year, and those selected benefit from what a junior describes as “extremely specialist training in professional negligence, insurance and clinical negligence”. The 18 best applications through the Pupillage Gateway are invited to a single round of interviews. Approximately half of barristers under ten years of call at Hailsham studied at Oxbridge
Pupils at Hailsham have three main supervisors over the course of the year, one in professional negligence, another in clinical negligence, and the final one in another practice. During the second six, pupils are allowed to handle their own cases. Pupils are also expected to complete work for at least ten other members of chambers, who weigh in on the tenancy decision. An insider tells us that “Hailsham takes the training seriously” and pupils “are here to learn on the job.”