Commercial and Chancery cases take the lead at this set that now recruits up to two pupils a year.
In many years to come, once Britain reinvents itself, our nation's great legal institutions might well be named after Harry Potter stars. In the present, however, Radcliffe Chambers is named after a reassuringly sober figurehead: Sir Cyril Radcliffe, an eminent mid-century Chancery silk, who reflects the high standard of Chancery work that the set practices to this day. Radcliffe Chambers was formed in 2006 from a merger between 11 Old Square and 11 New Square. Instead of calling the set 11 'In The Middle' Square, members chose a name they felt was more relevant to their practice.
Besides its staple Chancery, the set also does commercial and specialist work, with its charities practice gaining a top-tier ranking in Chambers UK. A recent case saw a barrister represent the Egyptian Association in Great Britain in a case against its former chairman over financial irregularities. On the more traditional Chancery side, a member recently acted for the literary executor of a deceased Oxbridge professor in a dispute with his widow over his literary estate.
Insolvency work is one specialist area that's on the up: in 2015 the set took in seven insolvency practitioners from defunct set 11 Stone Buildings. Tina Kyriakides, one of the barristers who joined, recently acted for the Lotus Formula One team in three winding-up petitions and a £6 million administration petition, which saved an estimated 450 jobs. Another new arrival, Dawn McCambley, acted for the liquidators of a construction contractor in a multimillion-pound wrongful trading claim against the company's former directors.
"We plan to continue that growth through a mix of organic growth and acquiring new members from outside.”
All the new arrivals mean the practice now breaks down like this: 20% pensions; 20% private client; 20% insolvency and company law; 15% banking and finance; 15% commercial; and 10% property. CEO Fiona Fitzgerald tells us: “We've had an extremely successful past three years. In 2016 alone we grew 39% in terms of work, and have also grown in membership from 44 to 55. We plan to continue that growth through a mix of organic growth and acquiring new members from outside.” With that in mind, while the set used to recruit only one pupil per year, recent growth and the higher volume of work means it will now be taking two.
Dead or alive!
Pupils have four supervisors for about three months each across pupillage. “The first seat is focused on getting acclimatised to being a barrister – finding out what an opinion actually looks like in practice and understanding how things work. I largely did work for my supervisor and did one piece for another member,” one former pupil recalled. “As you move to your second supervisor, you start to get opened up to more people in chambers.” Each supervisor tends to focus on a different area within the set's specialities. Exposure to different areas is “something Radcliffe is really careful to ensure, which I'm really grateful for,” a source cooed.
One pupil started with traditional Chancery work – “a great way to get an understanding of the foundations of what chambers does” – then moved on to insolvency, then to commercial, and finally to banking and finance with some government and tax work thrown in. One source felt: “It has given me a strong foundation for trying to work out what my own practice is going to look like.”
Pupils sink their teeth into the drafting of particulars of claim, defences, pleadings, skeleton arguments and advisory pieces. Sources emphasised that they always did “more live work than dead work,” estimating about about 70 to 75% was live, with the remainder dead. “Dead work was quite useful because it was complex and I could see what happened next after I'd done one element of it,” an interviewee reflected.
"We're a Chancery set which encourages pupils to take on their own work.”
And it doesn't take long for pupils to start trying things out themselves: in the second six, pupils get up on their feet on their own cases. “It's quite unusual that we're a Chancery set which encourages pupils to take on their own work,” pupillage committee member Daniel Burton says. “That has two benefits: it's financially beneficial to the pupil, but also if a pupil is taken on and told on their first day to go to court they will have been doing that for a few months already.” One source told us: “I learnt a huge amount from getting on my feet. I was still learning, but to finally be able to put that into practice and put my wig and gown on was a really nice feeling.” Pupils deal with small trials, applications and bankruptcy petitions and appear at hearings on behalf of senior members. All of this comes alongside continuing to do work for your supervisor and other members.
Each of the four supervisors produces a report at the end of their three months, which is sent to the pupillage committee along with every piece of work a pupil has done for other members. On top of that there's a formal advocacy assessment that counts towards the tenancy decision, usually eight or nine months into pupillage. It's usually an application for which you have to prepare the skeleton argument too. Feedback from instructing solicitors can also be included in the report compiled by the pupillage committee, which is then sent out to all members so that “everyone has the opportunity to see the feedback.” This is followed by a vote of all members. The set had not yet made its 2017 tenancy decision at the time we went to press.
Live and let apply
Recently, Radcliffe departed from the Pupillage Gateway for greener recruitment pastures. “We felt the Pupillage Gateway was not enabling us to recruit the people we wanted,” Daniel Burton posits. Recruitment is now more old-fashioned: hopefuls submit a CV and covering letter to the set – criteria to cover are listed on Radcliffe's website. The four members of the pupillage committee then individually review and mark each application: “We're not a set that will give certain batches of applicants to certain people and hope for consistent marking criteria,” Burton explains. “Once everyone has had the opportunity to read the applications we do a first sift and narrow it down to 20 to 25 applicants.”
These 20 to 25 are invited to a first-round interview at which candidates are presented with a set of problem questions, “which may or may not have been given to them beforehand.” The second-round interview used to last two days(!), but has now been shortened to just one day. Candidates are sent a drafting exercise to do beforehand, usually an opinion related to Radcliffe's work. Candidates then come in in the morning and have the chance to speak with a number of the set's members. The interview itself is in the afternoon and consists of going through the written work, as well as doing a conference problem. “The interview panel pretend to be lay clients and solicitors,” Daniel Burton explains. “That's helpful for us as it gives an indication of how a candidate will interact with clients.” One pupil remembered writing “an opinion on easements, which involved fairly tricky land law.” A baby junior reckoned “the goal is to see how you deal with something you don't know the answer to.”
“This is a very friendly and sociable set,” a pupil told us. “I've been invited to everything from day one, be that drinks after work or lunches.” The set harkens back to its Chancery roots with daily morning coffee and afternoon tea, though minus the out-dated tradition of pupils waiting on barristers. “Tea can either involve very complex discussions of things people are working on, or we might be ranking James Bond films!” an interviewee chuckled. Hot beverages aside, there are also alcoholic ones up for grabs when semi-regular emails go round asking if anyone fancies a pint. And if food is more your priority, once a month the set hosts lunch. “We order Domino's, open up a conference room and eat pizza,” a source reported. “There's a concerted effort to make sure everyone goes to that, otherwise it's easy to get lost in your work. You have to blow of steam.”
The set has a policy that during pupillage you work from 9am to 6pm, though when the second six comes round pupils tend to structure their own time.
11 New Square,
- No of silks 5
- No of juniors 50
- Noof pupils 2
- Contact [email protected]
- Method of application Applications must be made by CV with a covering letter addressed to our Pupillage Committee by email at [email protected] com or by post to Pupillage Committee, Radcliffe Chambers, 11 New Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London, WC2A 3QB. The covering letter should briefly address the selection criteria outlined on the website, and should be a maximum of two sides of A4 in length
- Pupillages Up to two 12-month pupillages
- Tenancies Up to 2 per annum
With many members of chambers having been involved in the leading cases in their fields, this chambers continues to grow its reputation for quality and innovative legal services. These services are supported by a professional and dedicated clerking and management team who provide a transparent and client driven service.
Type of work undertaken
Experts in private client and trusts, commercial litigation, banking and finance, civil fraud, financial regulation, professional liability, insolvency and restructuring, pensions, charities, property, arbitration and mediations.
• Evidence of legal experience (such as mini-pupillages, marshalling and other legal work experience).
• Experience and achievements in oral advocacy (particularly legal advocacy including mooting).
• Strong and convincing reasons for applying for pupillage, and in particular for wishing to join Radcliffe Chambers.
Chambers are looking for academically bright and commercially practical pupils who have the ability to intereact well with clients and chambers members and staff.
Our pupils are encouraged to gain as much advocacy experience as possible during their second six. In recent years, our second six pupils have been able to undertake a significant amount of their own court work.
Applications should be made by CV and covering letter. Applications by email are not accepted. Applicants may find it helpful to read our mini-pupillage policy before making an application.
Applications received between 16 January 2017 and 18 August 2017 will be considered for mini-pupillage between 2 October 2017 and 12 January 2018. Applications received between 21 August 2017 and 12 January 2018 will be considered for mini-pupillage between 5 February 2018 and 27 April 2018.