Noted for its healthcare and commercial expertise, Outer Temple is a good choice for those wishing to try a range of practices.
You here for business or… health?
When it comes to practice areas, choosing where you'd like to spend the rest of your career isn't a decision to be taken lightly. It requires considered thought, a bit of experience, and an appreciation of what ticks your boxes and what doesn't. Outer Temple's two departments – business and health – give pupils buckets of experience in both common law areas like personal injury and clinical negligence and commercial practices like financial services. "Every week you'll encounter something different," a pupil told us. "That helps minimise the chance of any 'grass is greener' situations cropping up down the line.”
Commercial director Christine Kings tells us that because the set “needs to reinforce both the business and health departments with junior juniors,” it recently upped its regular pupillage intake from two to three to ensure that come the tenancy decision there will be at least one new tenant joining both the business and health departments. In addition, the set recruits a fourth pupil every alternate year in conjunction with FRU – more on that below.
"It's great to have that variety during pupillage.”
Barristers in the business department are active in areas including pensions, employment and financial services. One recent case saw members appear in the High Court on behalf of IBM employees and the trustee of the IBM pension scheme in a claim where the employees argued that they’d been short-changed when the company altered its terms and conditions on pay and pensions in 2009. A member was also active on a case related to part-time judges' entitlement to pensions.
Outer Temple is an ambitious set, as evidenced by its efforts to build up that now departed financial crime team mentioned above. The set has also opened a number of pied-à-terre offices in Manchester, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and New York, which – some of which are permanently staffed – are a strong indication of its international ambitions.
X Factor? You'd better be Outer this world.
Some 240 hopefuls submitted applications in Outer Temple's 2017 recruitment round. At this stage academic achievement and relevant work experience are key considerations, though “we're also looking for a bit of an X factor,”head of pupillage James Counsell hints: “people who've overcome particularly challenging circumstances to get them to where they are today.” In 2017 a total of 38 applicants were invited to a preliminary interview, though this figure “may well rise in the next few years,” according to Counsell.
The first-round interview is usually held on a Saturday and lasts just 20 minutes; six candidates are then invited back the following Sunday for a final interview lasting an hour. Applicants face a panel of five members and are expected to combat legal and CV-oriented questions and present an assignment given to them in advance. “Last year they had to review and give their analysis on a judgment made in a clinical negligence Court of Appeal case,” Counsell tells us.
An alternative route into Outer Temple is through the OTC/FRU Pupillage programme, known affectionately as the 'FRUpillage'. The 18-month scheme begins with a six-month placement at the Free Representation Unit, focusing on employment casework, followed by an official first six at Outer Temple, and then a practising second six doing casework for both chambers and FRU. An application requires only a short online legal exercise, a list of candidates' pro bono activities, a pass in the BPTC and a declaration of a clean criminal record, which for Counsell makes meeting the new 'FRUpil' “particularly exciting, as we know very little about them!”
“After years of study it was so rewarding to be trusted to get on my feet.”
Pupillage is divided into four three-month seats and the average pupil will sit with supervisors whose specialisms ensure broad coverage of chambers' work. Pupils usually spend their first seat with a supervisor specialising in personal injury and clinical negligence, the second with an employment specialist, and the third and fourth with criminal/disciplinary and pensions practitioners. “Most people don't have a concrete idea of what they'd like to specialise in when they start their career,” a pupil noted, “so it's great to have that variety during pupillage.”
Rookies also take on work from other members, but all cases go through the supervisors, who “really respect your work/life balance and ensure you're not taking on more than you can handle.” Consequently, working days average out at a manageable 9am to 6pm, though one junior assured us that “you'll end up working a little later than that once you gain tenancy!”
Still, pupillage “does an excellent job” of preparing you for life as a full-time fee earner. “I was straight down to Watford County Court on the first day of my second six,” one pupil recalled. “From then on I've been in court at least once a week.” In these early stages rookies' instructions tend to be small personal injury or employment cases, but sources couldn't have been more chuffed with the experience, with one telling us that “after years of study it was so rewarding to be trusted to get on my feet.”
“I was straight down to Watford County Court on the first day of my second six.”
All written work is commented upon, and at the end of each quarter pupils sit down with James Counsell and their supervisor to discuss a formal, written report on their progress. “We don't mind mistakes,” Counsell points out, “as long as pupils take on board the suggestions highlighted in appraisal meetings and make improvements over the next three months.”
All pupils are also assessed through five advocacy exercises over the course of the year, which range from legal submissions to witness cross-examinations. The first four are held solely in the presence of supervisors and one other member, but the last – which takes place in June – is open for all members to attend. There's also a written assessment – this year it was to give advice on particulars of claim in a solicitor's negligence case – which is marked anonymously. After the assessments are completed the pupillage committee discusses pupils' performance over the past year, taking supervisors' quarterly reviews, assessment results and other feedback into consideration. A recommendation is then passed on to all members of chambers, who decide whether or not pupils should be kept on. All four pupils gained tenancy in 2017.
If the stellar training on offer hasn't yet tempted you, then it's worth drawing attention to Outer Temple's “respectful and development-focused working environment.” As one insider elaborated, “people know pupillage is challenging and that there are limitations to your understanding of the profession, so everyone does their absolute best to help you work through any difficulties.” There are plenty of opportunities to spark up working relationships at afternoon tea, a tradition that sources were pleased to report “really isn't as stuffy or old-fashioned as you might think. I've found it a great way to meet members, including silks.”
If you get the chance to pop into Outer Temple's fancy Strand digs, keep an eye open for the funky mosaic giraffe in the foyer!
Outer Temple Chambers
The Outer Temple,
- No of silks 20
- No of juniors 70
- No of pupils up to 4
- Contact Shiraz Oshidar [email protected]
- Method of application Pupillage Gateway
- Pupillages offered Up to three 12-month pupillage and one 18-month OTC/FRU extended pupillage
- No of tenancies offered up to 4
- Annexes Manchester, New York, Abu Dhabi, Dubai
Type of work undertaken