Landmark Chambers is perhaps best known for its highly regarded planning practice. “We’re involved in matters you’ll often see on the news, such as the decision to build a new runway at Heathrow,” says junior barrister Anjoli Foster.
Spread across eight floors on London’s bustling Fleet Street, and just a stone’s throw from the Royal Courts of Justice, Foster says chambers has a more “modern” feel to it than most. “We’re based on a busy road among banks and various other non-law institutions. It’s a nice change from the Inns of Court,” she explains.
The floors aren’t separated by practice area and most tenants (there are 95, including 35 silks) tend to share a room. Luckily, planning law specialist Foster shares a room with a senior barrister who happens to work in a similar field to her. This allows them both to bounce ideas off each other, she explains. Most doors in chambers are made from glass which “gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘open-door policy,’” quips Foster, but this helps give chambers a more “open-plan feel”.
What’s more, Landmark has recently opened a new office in Birmingham’s City centre. Understood to be the first top tier London set to do so, Landmark hopes to capture the growth of the Midlands market and make chambers even more accessible to clients. There’s also a strong international offshoot in the form of Landmark Chambers International. Foster tells us barristers have been instructed in several jurisdictions, including the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
So what’s pupillage at this high-ranking set like? “It’s commonly referred to as a year-long interview process, but I really enjoyed mine,” says Foster. During the year, pupils rotate between four seats. The first three are in chambers’ key specialisms: planning and environmental law, property law and public law. Pupils then go on to complete a fourth seat in an area of their choosing. Pupils support the caseload of their supervisor and most of the work they take on relates to a live case. This, as well as the fact that Landmark barristers act in both the private and public sphere, appealed to Foster.
There’s a real emphasis on training in chambers and supervisors are approachable and want pupils to succeed. As well as rolling feedback throughout the year, pupils complete three written assessments and an advocacy task during each seat. Following the completion of each seat, pupils receive more detailed feedback on their performance from the pupillage committee. Going from pupil to junior barrister was “exciting” for Foster. Having secured tenancy, she found herself appearing in court around twice a week and prepping advocacy for fast track trials. But it’s a steep learning curve: “You’re now in charge of your own caseload and have to take responsibility and make decisions. But you can always turn to your supervisors and colleagues for help,” she adds.
Indeed, Landmark is a supportive environment. Pupils are assigned mentors with whom they meet up with once a month to discuss any pressing professional matters over lunch. Once qualified, Landmark rookies can opt to receive mentoring from a more senior barrister in their preferred practice area, who’ll help guide them through their first few years of practice. There are also mental health and wellbeing workshops for barristers to turn to should they need the additional support.
Foster is already making a name for herself, despite being in the relatively early stages of her career at the bar. She has built up a significant practice in planning and environmental law and was recently ranked as one of the top juniors under 35 in Planning Magazine’s planning law survey. Planning law isn’t a module that is taught during the undergraduate law degree, explains Foster, but it was the seat the first-class Oxford law grad enjoyed most during pupillage. Now, she’s acted on a number of public inquiries into planning appeals, ranging from housing developments to listed buildings and planning criminal proceedings. It’s the “real life impact” of her work that Foster finds rewarding.
The work hours vary. When she’s not in court, Foster will usually arrive in chambers at 9am and leave around 7pm. Being self-employed means there is a lot of flexibility, and barristers are able to work from home. “The practice managers are accommodating when you’re tied up and aren’t able to come into chambers,” explains Foster.
It’s not all work and no play. Landmark’s central location means there are plenty of local pubs and restaurants in which juniors can unwind and discuss the day’s work over a drink or two. Other perks include a “massive” fruit delivery that arrives at the office every Monday and Wednesday, and the weekly “Monday cakes” social. Chambers also hosts events. There’s a monthly drinks reception and a number of big parties every year — last year’s summer party was held at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. “This was a great way to network with our solicitor clients,” says Foster. But if standing around making small talk over drinks isn’t your thing, chambers also organises competitive table-tennis and soft-ball matches for its clients, and regularly holds internal lunch events.
There’s no sense of hierarchy within chambers, says Foster. “We’re all friends at the junior end, and I also have a lot of friends who are more senior.” There’s also plenty of interaction between barristers and staff. “Your practice manager will usually be of a similar age to you,” explains Foster, who has a good relationship with hers, not least because the staff room is located next to the best coffee machine in chambers!