The Legal Cheek View
“I never cease to be amazed by the things that go on in workplaces,” one of the Littleton respondents to the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey tells us. This intriguing quote is a clue to a large chunk of what Littleton Chambers does, with over half of the set’s work employment law related. It’s an area that is often factually very interesting, since it involves fundamentally human interests, as well as commercial ones on the part of employers. Some of the cases are high-profile, too: Littleton barristers have been involved in employment law wrangles involving Team GB cyclist Jess Varnish and chief Home Office civil servant Philip Rutnam.
Juniors at the set should expect to gain exposure to a mix of statutory employment work and High Court employment cases. “One day you can be arguing about the effect of a statutory provision, the next day cross-examining a truculent witness and the day after writing an opinion on the construction of a contract,” a Littleton insider tells us.
The rest of the set’s work covers a wide range of commercial law, some of which overlaps with employment. Company law disputes, sports law, financial services and even public law matters regularly come through the clerks’ room door. Rookies can expect exposure to a range of these areas during pupillage, which is split into four three-month seats, each working under different supervisors.
What The Junior Barristers Say
The working environment at Littleton Chambers, according to Kieran Wilson, a junior barrister at the set, is “incredibly friendly and supportive”. He adds: “I don’t have any junior bar horror stories to share, unfortunately!”
All this niceness began before Kieran had even started: the summer before pupillage kicked off, he was assigned a junior mentor who he‘d meet regularly for a confidential chat over lunch or coffee. During his pupillage, Kieran spent three months working with four different supervisors, gaining experience in Littleton’s core practice areas of employment and commercial law.
Aside from the formal assessments (of which there are six throughout the year), every piece of work during Kieran’s pupillage related to a live case. His friends at other chambers haven’t been so lucky he tells us: there’s a lot of “dead work” in which those pupils work on cases which have already ended.
In contrast, at Littleton: “you’re essentially working with your supervisor in accordance with their deadlines — you get to see all the chops and changes that can happen when a case comes to trial”. It’s also a two-way street, “the end of seat debrief provides a holistic overview as to how well you’re doing”. When it comes to assessments and work for other members of chambers, “you’re given a score out of ten,” explains Kieran, which helps serve as a benchmark for future practice.