Excited by employment? Got a penchant for public law? You can find both and more at 11KBW.
Dialled up to 11
Brexit, Hillsborough, sex abuse, rail strikes, judges' pensions – just some of the big public law and employment issues of the day that 11KBW's barristers have worked on. Employment and public law are the two areas this set is best known for, but business development director Andrea Kennedy highlights expansion into other fields: “Our commercial offering is continually growing. Equally we have a burgeoning media law practice, launched in 2016, which draws on our significant expertise in areas such as data privacy, freedom of expression and breach of confidence.” On top of that, she explains, “public international law is another area we're building up, for example work in relation to international sanctions.”
Public law and employment remain the set's core strengths – Chambers UK ranks a dozen silks in both areas and they each make up 40% of the practice. But 11KBW also receives a top Chambers ranking in five other areas (community care, data protection, education, local government and public procurement), plus recognition for human rights and European law work. Most work is on the defendant side, though the set says claimant-side work is on the up.
Back to those fascinating pieces of work barristers have been involved in. The set has worked on two Hillsborough-related cases: first, several barristers were active on both sides of a judicial review brought by the police officers on duty on the day of the disaster challenging the withdrawal of funding to support them during the Hillsborough Inquests. Two 11KBW silks were also up against each other in proceedings brought against the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner after he forced the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire to resign because of comments made after the inquests.
Meanwhile Clive Sheldon QC is working with junior Katherine Eddy on the Foot Association's independent review into sex abuse allegations, looking at how clubs and the FA dealt with abuse claims between 1970 and 2005. And last, but by no means least, two members represented the government in the Supreme Court Article 50 Miller case alongside the Attorney General and the Treasury Devil.
On the employment side John Cavanagh QC has been instructed as lead counsel for Govia Thameslink in its dispute with striking staff and was instructed by the Ministry of Justice in the long-running MoJ v O’Brien case over part-time judges' pensions. Meanwhile Chambers-ranked senior junior Jane McCafferty acted for Jeremy Clarkson in the race discrimination claim brought against him by Oisin Tymon after he punched the BBC producer during a so-called 'fracas' (the case was settled on confidential terms). Barristers also work on tons of tribunal and court cases related to discrimination, equal pay, unfair dismissal, pension payments etc, with cases concerning everyone from an Anglican priest to a manager at Sainsbury's.
As for the set's other work: one recent education case saw senior junior Joanne Clement represent Wales' Glyndŵr University in a judicial review related to a scandal over foreign students fraudulently getting English language qualifications; a recent data protection case had Anya Proops QC defending Morrisons against a group claim brought by the supermarket's employees after their payroll details were put online by a rogue staff member; and in a case which mixed commercial and public law concerns, 11KBW's Amy Rogers acted as junior to two top silks from other sets representing Iran's Bank Mellat in a damages claim against the government related to international sanctions.
No sex please, we're barristers
Pupillage is split into two three-month seats and one six-month one. In each stint there's a mix of work from both supervisors and others members, but it does change over time. A pupil told us: “In my first seat the bulk of my work came from my supervisor with a few things from other members. In the second seat it was a half and half split, and in my final one I did two weeks of work for my supervisor and the rest was for everyone else.” All work is managed by supervisors so newbies don't get swamped; from the start they do a cornucopia of written work including pleadings, skeleton arguments and opinions, and shadow other members at court and tribunal hearings.
Pupils don't spend time on their feet until after the tenancy decision during a "lighter supervised final three months.” In this period pupils may head off to the Employment Tribunal on their own and one told us they'd dealt with a case related to cycle paths. Another said they'd advised on “a Tower Hamlets sex club case – the conference was really entertaining as I was sat across from the three guys who ran the club!” Baby juniors are on their feet regularly.
“That's one way to piss off your solicitors!”
All pupils' work is assessed and marked on criteria including analytical ability, oral articulacy and presentation, clarity of writing, judgement, legal research and practical skills. The last of these includes “making sure you don't say you're going to complete a piece of work by a certain time and then not doing so. That's one way to piss off your solicitors!” Work for other members of chambers is double marked for consistency.
While there isn't an official grace period, assessors realise pupils aren't going to turn up as the finished product. "As long as you hit the standard we expect by the end, we understand it takes people different lengths of time to get there,” says pupillage secretary Christopher Knight. The standard is numerically measured by scoring pupils out of seven for each of the above criteria. “You have to get at least five out of seven, so you're aiming for an aggregate mark of 30,” Knight informs us. Each piece of work goes into a pupil's folder, which also comprises supervisor reports and advocacy exercise performance.
There are three advocacy exercises during pupillage, “normally things like mock injunctions in which you're up against your co-pupil" – one is usually a public law matter and one employment. The pupillage committee then looks at all of this and makes the tenancy decision. Knight reveals that “borderline candidates can often be pulled up by their advocacy skills or how well they get on with clients.” In 2017, 11KBW kept on its single pupil as a tenant.
Tea for two
Prospective pupils apply through the Gateway and then face an obstacle course of first-round interview, assessed mini-pupillage and final interview. Around 60 to 70 lucky peeps are invited to the first round which lasts 15 minutes. Candidates pick from three topical issues to argue for or against – “that's not designed to test legal knowledge, but how you form and argument,” says Christopher Knight.
Thirty to 35 make it through to the mini, which lasts three to five days. Mini-pupils are set a legal problem question which they usually have two days to produce an opinion on. “It's a real set of papers but a dead case," we heard. The remainder of the mini is spent visiting court and on the last day there's feedback on the problem question based on the same criteria pupils are assessed on.
Ten to 12 go through to a final two-part 30-minute interview. Finalists are first given an hour to prep an advocacy exercise, which lasts 15 minutes and centres on contract law. The second part is a discussion of another legal problem – normally a case – that's set in advance; hopefuls are asked to discuss things like what they would argue on appeal. Knight advises: “We want people who can spot the right points and then structure a cogent argument around them.”
"Tea, cake... what more could you want?"
As 11KBW definitely puts applicants through their paces, those who survive are obviously intellectual heavyweights. The set's most junior tenants are fairly Oxbridgey, but several did their undergraduate degrees at other top unis like Warwick, Nottingham, LSE, KCL, Bristol and UCL. They have an impressive smattering of postgraduate degrees and scholarships between them; we also note that one is an amateur boxer, one lectured in contract law at KCL and one worked at a string of NGOs before applying for pupillage.
“Everyone is so friendly,” gushed insiders. “There are loads of ad hoc drinks which you can go to if you want. Nothing is compulsory, which is better I think because then you don’t feel like you have to 'perform' and you can relax.” Socials on the calendar each year include a New Year's dinner and weekly chambers tea. “It's really well attended – tea, cake... what more could you want?”
11KBW is one of the sets that sponsors the prestigious Phoenicia Scholarship, paying for pupils and juniors to go to the Bar European Group’s annual international conference.
11 King's Bench Walk,
- No of silks 19
- No of juniors 42
- No of pupils 2
- Contact Ms Claire Halas - Director of Finance and Administration
- Method of application Pupillage Gateway
- Pupillages (pa) 12 months – 2-3
- Required degree First or 2:1 (in any academic field)
- Income £65,000 (up to £15,000 of the pupillage award may be paid to prospective pupils as an advance in their BPTC year).
- No of tenancies offered in last 3 years 6
Types of work undertaken