Gatehouse Chambers - True Picture

The newly rebranded Gatehouse Chambers pairs commercial expertise with "a progressive outlook that matches the century we live in."

Gatehouse Chambers pupillage review 2022

The Chambers

It’s been a dramatic year of change for this set. Not content with a newly rebranded name, logo, and website, Gatehouse Chambers also made the decision to relocate premises from Lincoln’s Inn to Gray’s Inn. “The move has been five years in the making,” the CEO, Amanda Illing, tells us. “Our current place wasn’t fit for purpose and, as a result of our robust financial health, we were in a position to invest in a new place. Where we had 15,000 square feet of space, we now have 21,000. We now have more client spaces, including great meeting rooms, balconies, and showers.” The set’s current pupils certainly regarded the move as an upgrade: “The new offices are very modern and swanky. There’s also a rooftop terrace with great views of High Holborn – it definitely doesn’t feel like your traditional 17th century set of chambers.”

“There’s a real dedication to actually putting into practice policies that will make the Bar a more open and welcoming place to people from less privileged backgrounds.”

Of course, of much greater significance was the set’s decision to rebrand. As head of pupillage committee Andy Creer points out: “Our former name Hardwicke carried with it a very strong brand presence and reputation.” However, “at the core of the decision was how hurtful it was to carry the name of a man who helped provide the legal justification for slavery,” Illing tells us. “It was a rare opportunity for us to dive deeper into our identity, which included evaluating how we wanted people to perceive us, as well as identifying what we wanted our core values to be. We had spreadsheets of names and consultation sessions coming out of our ears.”

Gatehouse Chambers' James Shaw will be speaking at the Gen Z Summit on Thursday 3 March about D&I in the legal profession. Don't miss out - sign up to attend here.

The changes solidify Gatehouse Chambers’ position as one of the Bar’s most progressive sets. “Our approach is to combine the academic rigour and excellence you would expect from a top-end set of barristers in London with a progressive outlook that matches the century we live in,” one insider reflected. A junior tenant added: “There’s a real dedication to actually putting into practice policies that will make the Bar a more open and welcoming place to people from less privileged backgrounds.” For example, Creer tells us of a push by some members of chambers to “refer to our pupils as trainee barristers rather than pupils. The latter feels like an outdated term, and for the average person in the street, it sounds like we have a primary school intake.” One pupil said: "My view is that the Bar can be stuffy and is largely made up of people from the same three schools in the UK, but that’s certainly not the case here."

One thing that hasn’t changed at the set is its reputation for excellence, and there’s six prestigious Chambers UK Bar rankings to show for it. The list includes solid rankings for the set’s real estate litigation; property damage; social housing; professional negligence; construction; and commercial dispute resolution work. Illing also identifies insurance as another key focus of the set including the subsets of professional negligence and personal injury. Creer points out that “although construction, property, and insurance law are completely different disciplines, all four could come up in one case.” Illing also tells us that “over the past ten years, we have worked hard to raise the set’s international profile. In particular, the commercial, construction, and insurance cases we tackle will often incorporate an international element.”

Recently, one of the firm’s leading silks, Ian Rodgers, defended a Dubai-based businessman, Mr Sanjay Shah, and his 22 international companies, both in London courts and in Dubai, against allegations of fraud brought by the Danish Tax Authority in a claim worth £2 billion. In the world of property law, Brie Stevens-Hoare QC recently represented clients in a complex forfeiture claim as part of a wider dispute relating to a substantial estate of mansion blocks in North London. At the junior end, Clare Anslow recently represented a tenant in an appeal against the decision of a district judge on the grounds that he erred in law in dismissing the tenant’s claim for failure to protect a tenancy deposit.

The Pupillage Experience

Pupils at Gatehouse Chambers complete three four-month seats, each with a different supervisor and two ‘wingers’. They typically complete three pieces of written work for these wingers, who tend to be more junior in level and “act as secondary supervisors.” Creer tells us that “to a degree, we try and shape the pupillage to reflect their interests wherever that’s possible.” Most seats will incorporate a mixture of the set’s core areas, as outlined by Illing. One of the set’s junior tenants recalled: “For my first seat, I sat with Sarah McCann, who does a mixture of commercial, construction, and insurance work. After that, I was able to sit down with a member of the pupillage committee and express an interest in doing more property-based work.”

Drafting skeletons and advices were common tasks for pupils at Gatehouse Chambers. The second six at is also a practising one. “There’s an advocacy assessment and if the pupillage committee decide you’re ready and satisfy certain criteria, you are unleashed,” one interviewee explained. They add that “the format is usually an application or mini trial and would usually take place with several members of chambers playing different roles.”

“You quickly start tackling a lot of possession claims, tenancy deposit issues, as well as road traffic accident and personal injury cases.”

Once given the green light, “you quickly start tackling a lotof possession claims, tenancy deposit issues, as well as road traffic accident and personal injury cases.” The pupillage committee assigns a member to each pupil; they’ll collect all their feedback over the course of the year, before a tenancy decision around July. This year, Gatehouse Chambers kept on both of its qualifying pupils. Once qualified, “you start working on progressively more complex property and commercial cases,” a current junior explained. “The key change is that you begin taking on more professional negligence cases.” They added that “there are always members of chambers on team chats to answer any questions you may have.”

The Application Process

Gatehouse Chambers’ application process begins at the Pupillage Gateway. “We have a question asking candidates which areas of law they are interested in because we want to rule out those who want to practise family, crime, or any other areas we wouldn’t be able to support a pupillage in,” Creer explains. “That follows with a question asking candidates to identify and comment on a significant development in the law that has occurred over the past five years in one of our key areas.”

Three members then blind-mark applications; the best 40 or 50 candidates earn spots in the first interview round. Here candidates will tackle a legal problem “designed to test their legal analysis and ability to think under a bit of pressure,” Creer explains. The second stage takes place over two days where candidates face a panel of five interviewers. “This year we asked them to draft two pages on the merits of an argument, then make an application for injunction.” Sources were happy to report that “even though the interviews are challenging, I don’t think they are the ones where you leave feeling assaulted or demoralised.”

“There is no one formula for a successful barrister…”

Creer also tells us that the chambers has overhauled its approach to the marking and analysis of candidates’ applications. “We now follow the guidance of the Judicial Appointments Commission, which uses calibrated marking to avoid individual differences you get between markers. We want to ensure there is consistency and that we are doing our best to minimise unconscious bias and the halo effect.” Creer also makes clear that “there is no one formula for a successful barrister,” adding that “I really can’t think of one thing we all have in common at our chambers.”

Those who are successful can expect to have access to a range of training sessions to help them reach their potential. Creer tells us that “we have specific modules presented by barristers in the form of interaction sessions. They cover the types of cases that junior members and pupils can expect to see in their early career.” She adds that “from an ergonomics perspective, if you are shown applicants of a high enough quality and know the standard you want them to reach by the end of the pupillage, it’s the fault of the system if they fail to meet that standard."

And finally...

Read the full press release of the set’s name change here.

Gatehouse Chambers

1 Lady Hale Gate,
Gray's Inn,

Firm profile
Gatehouse Chambers (formerly Hardwicke) is a successful, innovative and award-winning commercial barristers chambers with a reputation for high quality legal expertise, excellent administration and an approachable, business-focused style. This is consistently recognised in Chambers & Partners and Legal 500. It is recognised as a leading chambers for training, winning the Legal Cheek Best Chambers for Training Award 2019. It is also a market leader in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and CSR/pro bono and again has won awards for its work in these areas.

Size Members - 85 Total pupils - 2

Contacts Allison Longley (

Main Areas of Work
• Commercial Dispute Resolution
• Construction
• Insolvency
• Insurance
• Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence
• Private Client
• Professional Liability
• Property

Application Criteria We are a member of Pupillage Gateway and all applications should be made through

Training Opportunities
We offer up to two 12-month pupillages each year both with a view to membership. Our policy is therefore to only offer pupillage to candidates whom we consider have the potential to become members of Chambers. We look for pupils with exceptional intellectual ability, excellent communication skills and a genuine interest in our areas of work. You will need to be confident and able to work both on your own and with others, and to demonstrate not only outstanding legal and analytical ability, but sound commercial good sense as well.

At Gatehouse Chambers , we put a great deal of effort into providing you with the on-going support and training that is required to succeed in what is an extremely competitive environment. From day one, you will be treated as part of our team and included in Chambers events and receive introductions to clients. We have a strong open-door policy and ensure that our pupils feel they are able to approach any member of chambers for guidance and advice.

Our 12-month pupillages are split into three periods of four months. During each period, you will be assigned a pupil supervisor and other members of chambers with whom you will work. You will share the daily professional life of your pupil supervisor, producing pleadings and opinions on their cases, attending conferences and court hearings, and benefit from regular feedback.

Advocacy is a key component of a Gatehouse Chambers  pupillage. We will provide you with in-house advocacy training, supervised by our members, many of whom are advocacy trainers at the Inns and/or part-time judges. During your second six months, you can expect to find yourself in court two to three days a week.

Salary and Benefits
£55,000 pupillage award split as an award of £40,000 and guaranteed earnings of £15,000.

Vacation Scheme
We are a founder member of the Bridging the Bar scheme which offers a mini-pupillage scheme, take part in Legal Cheek’s Virtual Vacation Scheme and also offer our own mini-pupillages. Please visit Gatehouse Chambers' website for closing dates and details about eligibility as regards our internal scheme. Details of the Bridging the Bar and Legal Cheek schemes can be found on those organisations’ websites.

Up to £15,000 of the pupillage award may be drawn down during your BPTC year.

Other Benefits
• We will fund your attendance at the Bar Council’s compulsory courses.
• We operate guaranteed earnings schemes for our first and second year members, that offer financial security to those just starting out. These are currently £40,000 for the first year in practice and £50,000 for the second year.

Open Days and First-Year Opportunities
We organise various events to provide us with the opportunity to meet potential pupils - and to afford potential pupils the opportunity to meet us. We also offer mini-pupillages. Details of all such opportunities appear on the pupillage pages of our website.

International and Regional
All training is in London. Client secondments are possible if pupils are given tenancy at the end of pupillage.

University Law Careers Fairs
Gatehouse Chambers attends the Bar Council Pupillage Fair. We also support various Legal Cheek events including pupillage fairs run in conjunction with Legal Cheek and Ulaw.

This Firm's Rankings in
UK Bar, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Commercial Dispute Resolution (Band 5)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Professional Negligence (Band 4)
    • Professional Negligence: Technology & Construction (Band 3)
    • Property Damage (Band 2)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 3)
    • Social Housing (Band 4)