With an office in Geneva as well as London, chancery and commercial set XXIV Old Buildings (the number 24 if you aren’t up to scratch with your Roman numerals) is one of the more international chambers at the bar of England and Wales. Barristers at the set regularly appear in offshore courts and tribunals in locations such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Hong Kong. Notably the chambers was instructed on behalf of the Additional Liquidator for the Cayman Islands based Herald Fund, one of the biggest Bernie Madoff feeder funds, and also acted in a US$180 million claim arising from the Kaupthing Bank liquidation in Guernsey’s Royal Court.
The diet of work here means one week you could be advising a family member struck out from a relative’s will and then next, advising a top UK company. Recent member cases include Philip Shepherd QC and Heather Murphy acting for Times Travel in a leading Supreme Court case on the law of duress, in which an airline had been held to have used illegitimate pressure to force an agent into an agreement to abandon claims for commission, and Ian Meakin successfully representing world-record-holding swimmer Sun Yang in an appeal against an eight year doping ban at the Swiss Federal Supreme Court (XXIV reporting that the chances of success on appeal from an arbitration in Switzerland are approximately 1%), go Ian!
XXIV Old Buildings offers three pupillages in each recruitment cycle and those who get through spend three months with each of their four pupil supervisors. During this time, pupils attend court and conferences and are tasked with legal research, writing opinions and drafting statements of case. Due to the very technical nature of the work, opportunities for pupils to obtain their own cases can be limited at first. Instead, the set focuses on gradual development, training and learning with focus on pupils becoming familiar with the day-to-day essentials of drafting arguments and correspondence, and researching novel points of law in overseas jurisdictions. XXIV Old Buildings rebelled against the norm of the bar, by not scheduling any formal assessments during pupillage. Instead, supervisors provide day-to-day coaching and feedback through monitoring progress and assessing work. There are more formal reviews however which take place quarterly.
XXIV pupils can expect to be involved in intellectually rigorous work. They are encouraged to immerse themselves in their supervisors’ practice in order to develop their technical understanding of the set’s specialisms, as well as being encouraged to work with other members, including juniors. For those with the aptitude, the work at the set is a highly stimulating experience — as evidenced by the strong grade which XXIV receives for work in the Legal Cheek Junior Barrister Survey.
Members of XXIV score well in Legal Cheek’s survey for colleague supportiveness, with pupils apparently relaxed about seeking the advice of the 11 QCs and 35 juniors (all of whom have pretty snazzy headshots on the website). This friendly atmosphere spills into a lively social scene with regular events, lunches and drinks after work provided for its members, assisted by the Lincoln’s Inn location. The chambers also holds marketing events and conferences across the world, in locations such as Dubai, the Caribbean and Geneva.
If you believe XXIV Old Buildings is the place for you, then be encouraged by the set’s down to earth approach to applications, where the focus is on giving you an opportunity to show your potential. It runs its own application process outside of the Gateway and invites all those who apply to complete an aptitude test which focuses on verbal reasoning. First round interviews are informal with three members of chambers and then the lucky 12 who progress to the final round ‘selection day’ are tasked with completing several tasks aimed at written and oral advocacy and negotiation skills.
The set looks for outstanding candidates who have “strong academic qualifications”, “intellectual ability”, “sound common sense and judgment” and an enthusiasm for the set’s specialisms. XXIV says it is committed to offering as many mini-pupillages as it can and offers funding to those outside of London, although they are not compulsory for pupillage applications.