Radcliffe Chambers

The Legal Cheek View

Barristers at Radcliffe Chambers deal with big-money, complex cases that set precedents and make headlines in the business pages.

Pupils are supported, encouraged and well-remunerated. This highly-regarded traditional chancery and commercial set, based at Lincoln’s Inn, has more than 60 barristers including five QCs. One recent high-profile case concerned whether a children’s health charity set up by a wealthy couple could make a $360m grant to a new charity set up by the ex-wife after the couple divorced. Barristers at Radcliffe also acted for the trustee of the Airways Pension Scheme in a major case against British Airways, and for Lloyds Bank in a landmark case regarding equal benefits for men and women. Radcliffe also has a growing reputation in insolvency work. And the chambers has its own mediation suite where business chiefs can resolve disputes without resorting to court.

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Each afternoon, whatever their workload, members try to find the time to meet for a cup of tea, a daily ritual that embodies the spirit of this convivial, civilised and high-achieving chambers. Pupils are encouraged to attend, giving them an excellent opportunity to mingle, make connections and seek advice.

“Radcliffe took an excellent collaborative approach to my pupillage,” says one barrister. “The focus of chambers was to make me the best possible barrister for the commencement of my tenancy.” Another chambers alumnus says: “Some members go above and beyond to help you settle and give you a warm welcome.”

Having previously taken on just one pupil, Radcliffe now recruits two a year. They work with four supervisors across different areas, rotating every three months. They will also be invited to assist other members with their cases, broadening their experience and gaining useful insights. “All members make an effort to give feedback on work you do for them, and that feedback is generally constructive,” says one rookie.

During the second six months, the really exciting work starts. Pupils are given their own cases and must put on their wig and gown and stand up in court before a judge. While no doubt daunting, former pupils have reported that this experience really helped them stand on their own two feet in their later career. It also prompts pupils to develop relationship with instructing solicitors as well as the clerks, and they can of course keep their earnings.

Radcliffe turned in a Rolls Royce performance in the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey 2018-19, scoring As for training, quality of work and colleagues, and A*s for its facilities and social life. As far as the cases are concerned, “chancery work is as intellectually stimulating as it gets,” while the “incredible variety both in terms of practice areas and scale of disputes means you get hands on at a very early stage and have plenty of room to grow”.

Radcliffe Chambers was formed in 2006 from the merger of 11 Old Square and 11 New Square, and has expanded its members in the past few years. The working hours are the average across chambers of 50-59 hours per week.

What The Junior Barristers Say

As well as being a highly respected chancery and commercial set that’s home to some of the big brains of the bar, Radcliffe is one of the most sociable chambers in the Inns of Court.

There are opportunities to meet fellow members of chambers through daily tea and coffee. “About ten barristers go on a daily basis for coffee,” reports junior tenant Andrew Brown. “It’s very informal, and you sometimes just talk about sports, but other times you discuss legal issues from the cases you are working on. When I was a pupil I used it as an opportunity to have many fruitful conversations with silks, which was cool.” Afternoon tea draws a younger crowd. “We talk about funny things at the bar, what we read on Legal Cheek, that sort of thing,” continues Brown.

In addition to these regular get togethers, there are lots of informal get togethers after work ranging from drinks around the pubs of legal London to other events. “We took our pupil to the Proms the other night,” reports Brown.

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One of the reasons that Radcliffe works hard on bringing its barristers together is that it is split across three sites (all in Lincoln’s Inn, so it’s not exactly a long walk between them). This is a legacy of the 2006 merger between 11 New Square and 11 Old Square that formed the set, and the more recent taking on of members from 11 Stone Buildings.

Since the merger 11 years ago, Radcliffe hasn’t outright rejected a pupil for tenancy. So, if you do make it into the set, then you have a very good chance of staying there.

Pupils get a broad grounding in chancery and commercial law thanks to a system that sees them rotate between four supervisors with whom they spent three months each. With Radcliffe doing a fair bit of international work, there are also some opportunities for travel. The set’s current pupil has been to Switzerland and Luxembourg this year, for example. In keeping with a policy that sees Radcliffe cover all pupils’ costs, hotels are typically paid for during such trips.

If there is a quality that marks out Radcliffe rookies from their peers, beyond their sociable nature, it’s their commercial approach. “Ultimately this is a business and at interview one of the qualities we look for is that future pupils could be put in front of clients,” notes Brown.

Deadlines

Mini-Pupillage

Between 18 February 2019 and 6 May 2019
Applications open 27/08/2018
Applications close 11/01/2019

Pupillage

Applications close 04/01/2019

Insider Scorecard

A
Training
A
Quality of work
A
Colleagues
A*
Facilities
A*
Social life

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey 2018-19 of over 600 barristers at the leading chambers in England.

Key Info

Juniors 54
QCs 5
Pupillages 2
Oxbridge-educated new tenants* 2/5

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

Money

Pupillage award £60,000
BPTC advance drawdown Undisclosed

Hours

Average hours 50-59 hours

Average hours are derived from the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey 2018-19 of over 600 barristers at the leading chambers in England.

Gender Diversity

Female juniors 20%
Female QCs 0%