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.

This chancery and commercial set was formed in 2006 from the merger of 11 Old Square and 11 New Square. It is based at Lincoln’s Inn, and has more than 60 barristers including seven QCs. The work is described by one junior as “highly involved company and insolvency work, which often has a cross-over with civil fraud… Unpicking financial transactions and accounts, and then applying complex insolvency law.”

Barristers at Radcliffe 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.

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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 exciting work starts with pupils given their own cases. 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.

One graduate of the process tells us: “Pupillage was an intense experience where I produced work for 18 different members of chambers, and received feedback from each of them. Subsequently I’ve had to keep up the education for CPD.”

Happily, another adds, “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”.

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. “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.

Insider Scorecard

Quality of work
Work/life balance

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey 2019-20 of over 600 barristers at the leading chambers in England.

Key Info

Juniors 56
QCs 7
Pupillages 2
Oxbridge-educated new tenants* 4/5

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


Pupillage award £60,000
BPTC advance drawdown Undisclosed

Gender Diversity

Female juniors 27%
Female QCs 0%