Landmark is a triple treat for those interested in planning, property and public law.
180 Fleet Street is three doors down from Sweeney Todd's infamous barbers, a five-minute stroll from St Paul's, and two minutes from the Royal Courts of Justice – in this quarter of London landmarks jostle for attention, but at the Bar there is only one Landmark. The set excels at planning law, environment, local government and community care, and has no problem drawing a range of lay clients to its doors, from big planning players, government agencies, private clients and charities.
Prompted for a breakdown of the set's work, chief executive Paul Newhall says planning accounted for around 60% of revenue – that includes environmental work which, like planning, earns a shiny top Chambers UK ranking. For pupils, this translates into opportunities to work on some fascinating cases. Barristers Chris Katkowski QC and Charles Banner recently acted on a public inquiry into a planning appeal by Candy & Candy’s CPC Group (the developers of the famous One Hyde Park complex in Knightsbridge) regarding its proposals for a new luxury apartment building by Holland Park. The inquiry delved into the controversial 'buy-to-leave' phenomenon whereby wealthy foreigners buy prime London properties as an investment and then leave them empty.
On the environmental front, Charles Banner has continued to work on with the HS2 Action Alliance in its various environmental law challenges to the project including a Supreme Court case on whether the white paper for HS2 should have been subject to strategic assessment.
So what about the other 40% of the set's work? Well, 20% is public law including judicial review, social welfare, healthcare, procurement and immigration work, while the remainder is property. Paul Newhall says all these practice areas complement each other, pointing to the firm's work on fracking-related matters as an example: “We have acted for shale gas drilling companies and pressure groups opposing exploration.” David Forsdick QC also recently worked on a cross-disciplinary case, representing a local council in challenges to the government's affordable housing policies, drawing on both property and public law expertise.
Don't cross the streams
Landmark's application process has undergone a shake-up recently and now has two separate streams. Applicants interested in property law can apply outside the Pupillage Gateway from 1 November 2017 by a deadline of 31 December 2017 for a 2019 pupillage. Landmark's remaining two pupillages are up for grabs via the Gateway system in January/February. Paul Newhall informed us that the new property trainee will still undertake seats doing public law and planning work.
"They even laughed at my jokes!”
Once the initial applications have been whittled down, candidates are invited to sit a written exam, normally around an hour long. “The written assessment is on a current issue of legal interest and doesn't necessarily require any specific previous knowledge,” pupillage committee secretary David Blundell explains. Past papers have required candidates to discuss anti-terror legislation, cuts to legal aid and the relationship between the environment and property. Current baby juniors advised candidates to “be as concise as possible and avoid waffling!”
Those who show promise are invited back for a panel interview with five to seven barristers and the chambers director. “Some sets deliberately try to make things intimidating, but that's really not the case here – they even laughed at my jokes!” one junior tenant recalled. Blundell says that the set's interviewing style is "rigorous but never hostile." Remember: resilience is certainly a quality you'll need. "The self-employed Bar is a difficult career," Blundell reflects. "The hours are tough and it’s difficult to get established so it’s imperative that pupils show enthusiasm."
So academics aside, how can your prove your interest? A few days observing a local planning committee or shadowing a County Court judge are good places to start, we were told. Among the pupils the set recently recruited are one individual who worked as a legal consultant for an LGBT charity and at the war crimes tribunal in Cambodia, one who was previously a trainee at the Ministry of Defence, one who interned at Ofcom and a human rights charity, and one who volunteered for Streetlaw and an advice line for parents of children with special needs.
When we pressed baby juniors for interview tips, we heard that “formulating an argument and sticking to it” is the best way forward. David Blundell elaborated that the ideal candidate will have a “sharp intellect and the ability to express opinions and arguments with precision.”
From face off to bake off
Pupils undertake four three-month seats. The first three – completed before the tenancy decision is made – see pupils spend time with supervisors in planning and environment, public law and property. The fourth seat focuses on an area of the pupil's own preference, insofar as that's possible. “In your first seat you are literally just shadowing your supervisor – but responsibility increases quickly as pupillage goes on,” juniors explained.
One pupil's seat in public law involved “drafting lots of skeleton arguments, which were then compared to my supervisor's. I also attended High Court hearings a number of times.” In addition, all pupils get the chance to shadow and work for a QC for two weeks, either towards the end of their second seat or at beginning of their third.
"You fumble your way through but you don't feel too stressed as the matters are normally small fry like possession hearings.”
There isn't a huge difference in workload between the first and second six, though the latter comes with the chance of court appearances “depending on what's around.” Getting up on your feet is neither enforced nor necessarily encouraged though. “They let you focus on doing well in your pupillage rather than piling on the extra pressure of having to run your own cases,” a junior told us.Still, some opportunities do arise – one junior recalled “going straight into court as soon as the second six started. You fumble your way through but you don't feel too stressed as the matters are normally small fry like possession hearings.”
There are three written and one oral advocacy exercise during pupillage. Pupils get two to three days for the written tests which are usually advices or opinions based on papers from a real case provided by a silk. The oral test sees pupils using another real set of papers from a recent case to argue in front of a part-time judge. “It's made to feel very realistic,” juniors told us, relaying that the 20-minute performance is made less daunting by not having the whole set present and watching. Supervisors are encouraged to give feedback continuously throughout the year with formal feedback sessions at the three and six month mark. The final tenancy decision is made by a committee and in 2017 two of the three pupils gained tenancy.
The set's laid-back atmosphere should help calm any nerves concerning assessment. As one tenant noted: “I'm normally walking around in jeans and a hoody.” The 2016 summer party at the V&A provided a chance for pupils to dress up a tad smarter, as they mingled with clients and colleagues in the museum's courtyard. 'Monday cakes' – they're baked lovingly by one of the clerks' mums – is a chance to catch up more informally and “provides a great opportunity to mix with people from the rest of chambers who you might not see on a day-to-day basis.”
Landmark recently upped its pupillage award to £65,000 – that's over 50% more than it was five years ago.
180 Fleet Street,
- No of silks 32
- No of juniors 54
- No of pupils 2
- Contact Carolyn Entwistle, HR and administration manager
- Method of application Pupillage Gateway
- Pupillages (pa) Up to three of 12 months duration
- Tenancies in the past three years 7
Landmark is ranked as the number one planning and environmental chambers in the UK by the top legal directories. We are consistently regarded as one of the leading sets in our other two main areas of work: property and public.
Members have been involved in some of the most significant cases and inquiries in recent years, including the Supreme Court Bedroom Tax case, High Speed 2, the third runway for Heathrow and the Supreme Court property case, Day v Hosebay Ltd.
The pupillage year is divided into four seats of three months each, during which we offer our pupils experience in all of Chambers’ complementary practice areas. We encourage pupils to work for other members and will arrange placements with a Silk or senior junior on more complex cases. This allows our pupils to see a wide variety of work and take advantage of Landmark’s unique position as a leading specialist set with significant cross-over between its private and public law practices.
Pupils receive regular feedback from their supervisors, as well as undertaking formal feedback sessions with the Pupillage Committee after three and six months. During the year there are four formal assessments (three written and one oral) and pupils receive feedback on their performance in each of them.
Chambers offers all mini-pupils reimbursement of £100 for travel and lunch expenses. Additionally, Landmark operates a discretionary accommodation funding scheme for students visiting from outside London.
For further details about pupillage, mini-pupillage, Landmark’s open evenings and property moot competition, please visit: www.landmarkchambers.co.uk/recruitment.