Old Square Chambers

The Legal Cheek View

In the ‘gig economy’ era of zero-hour contracts and flexible working, the employment cases handled by Old Square Chambers are at the cutting edge of law. Oliver Segal QC and Melanie Tether acted for a group of Uber drivers in the landmark case of Uber BV v Aslam and others, in which the Supreme Court found that drivers are workers and therefore entitled to the minimum wage, statutory annual leave and protection from detriment under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Other employment law highlights include Robin Moira White successfully representing the claimant in Taylor v Jaguar Land Rover in which the tribunal found that gender reassignment includes gender fluid and non-binary individuals, and Ben Cooper QC and former tenant Mark Greaves’ work on a huge multiple equal pay claim against UK supermarkets, the largest private sector claim of its type having been estimated to cost the retail sector up to £4 billion. Ben Cooper QC also appeared alongside Anya Palmer in the high profile Forstater v CGD Europe & others case in which the EAT held gender critical beliefs as protected under the Equality Act 2010.

Old Square Chambers has other expertise in personal injury, clinical negligence, professional discipline, travel, product liability, environment, health & safety and public inquiries, and a balance between claimant and respondent/defendant positions. Members have also amassed considerable experience in sports law. The set performs litigation in football and rugby as well as in athletics, boxing and motor racing, among others. The list of other clients represented by Old Square reads like a ‘Who’s who’ of Premiership football, with Sir Alex Ferguson, Roberto Martinez and Roy Keane among them. Mary O’Rourke QC and Nicola Newbegin represented Dr Eva Carneiro in her infamous unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination case against Chelsea Football Club and Jose Mourinho, which was settled on confidential terms.

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Other fascinating cases include James Chegwidden acting pro bono in a case where the court ruled a father’s religious beliefs did not justify him forcing his sons to be circumcised, and Nadia Motraghi and Rachel Owusu-Agyei being instructed in a case regarding school uniform religious discrmination. Legendary trade union and labour law barrister Lord John Hendy QC and Lance Harris worked as senior and junior counsel for the National Union of Journalists during the Leveson Inquiry, with the former’s cross-examination of Rupert Murdoch being available to watch on youtube. As one can see, members here often work in teams.

Though the work is fascinating, it demands long hours. Members at the set can expect to rack up between 60-69 hours a week, above average at the bar. The set is relatively large, with almost 80 members, 17 of whom are QCs, and says it is “committed to expansion” with it taking on two pupils each year. Old Square Chambers has two premises, with the head office on Bedford Row in London and an annexe in Bristol. Pupils here experience a “wide variety of court and paperwork” and have the opportunity to “work closely with silks on complex and sometimes high profile cases”, according to the set, alongside a “significant amount of second six” work. Pupillages focus on employment and personal injury.

Applicants for pupillage should be ready to demonstrate intellectual ability, written skills, the potential and motivation to be an advocate and a commitment to the set, but not necessarily all of the practice areas. Feedback following an unsuccessful interview can be provided on request.

Insider Scorecard

A
Training
A
Quality of work
B
Colleagues
A
Facilities
A
Work/life balance
B
Social life
B
Legal Tech

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey 2021-22 of over 600 barristers at the leading chambers in England.

Key Info

Juniors 60
QCs 17
Pupillages 2
Oxbridge-educated new tenants* 1/5

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

Money

Pupillage award £50,000
BPTC advance drawdown £8,000

The Pupillage award includes £10,000 guaranteed earnings.

Diversity

Female juniors 47%
Female QCs 30%
BME juniors 10%
BME QCs 18%