Aspiring barristers who want to make their mark in areas such as planning, property and public law should land at this set.
Landmark Chambers pupillage review 2023
Landmark Chambers is relatively fresh-faced compared to some of its surrounding City brethren. Formed just 21 years ago, this chambers is only just able to legally buy a pint in the US. But, as anyone who watched the Olympics knows, talent is precocious, and Landmark is no exception. It has five top rankings in Chambers UK Bar for community care, environment, local government, planning and real estate litigation. In fact, co-practice director Mark Ball tells us that “in recent times, the public law and more recently property law side has grown and strengthened.” Now, he adds, “we’re the number-one property team and have a strong public law team with high-profile cases.”
But Ball’s bravado isn’t unfounded: Landmark is the only chambers ranked by Chambers UK Bar to receive the coveted top ranking for planning at the London Bar. Recent matters have seen junior Heather Sargent representing Gatwick Airport during its expansion plans, while James Maurici KC acted as lead counsel for the Secretary of State defending appeals connected to expansion plans at Heathrow airport. Dan Kolinsky KC, meanwhile, successfully acted for the North Yorkshire County Council during a Supreme Court case that centred on the meaning of green belt policy.
“...we’re the number-one property team and have a strong public law team with high-profile cases.”
Dovetailing rather neatly with planning are the firm’s top-ranked real estate litigation and environment practices. In the former, Camilla Lamont acted for retailer NEXT on its lease renewal of its store in Didcot, which raised questions about the impact of COVID-19 on leases and the inclusion of new pandemic-specific clauses in the new tenancy. The set’s environmental practice often acts for the Secretary of State in litigation brought against it about a variety of environmental concerns, mostly related to the environmental impact of various projects.
For one pupil, the set’s traditional focus on planning was a drawcard, but “I was also interested in the public law side of things. Landmark has a stellar public law offering, but it’s not always on the radar of aspiring public law barristers.” They’re not wrong about the stellar offering. On the public law side, “people here do amazing work.” David Lock KC, “who acts for NHS bodies and for others in pharmaceutical and other complex healthcare related public law cases, has done some immigration cases and has been involved in challenges to the Covid regulations.” Timothy Corner KC, meanwhile, represented Norwich City Council during an objection made by Historic England (and other local groups) over the redevelopment of the Anglia Square area in Norwich and the impact certain plans would have on the medieval city centre.
If you’re not sold just yet, Ben Connor, the set’s other practice director, says: "The reputation of chambers for public, planning and property has drawn people to us,” as has “the quality of barristers.” He adds: “We’re an extremely well-established, large, major chambers, with the old warmth, but a more commercial focus.” The net result, one junior told us, is “a really supportive chambers,” without “forced fun. We’re not very big on everyone going to the pub on a Friday,” they continued, but there’s “always someone to go to lunch with.”
The Pupillage Experience
Landmark usually makes three pupillage offers each year, the chair of the pupillage committee Carine Patry KC tells us: “One property pupillage, and two non-specific.” The reason for a specific property pupillage? “Not enough juniors were going into property, and we were getting concerned that there wasn’t enough young blood. So, we created a pupillage for those interested in it, but they have exactly the same options as everyone else.”
Whatever the pupillage tag, all pupils will sit with four supervisors. Pupils will typically complete three seats (of three months each) in planning, public law and property and then do “whatever they want in their fourth seat," says Patry. "When they’re taken on, they will do everything, but at least they will have an idea of what they want.” Connor concurs: “Variety defines a pupillage at the set,” he says. “It’s a good broad pupillage in our main areas.” Juniors and pupils added that while “it is a practising second six, your third seat is still about making sure you’re doing the work to get a positive outcome with the tenancy decision.” In other words, “you should still be concentrating on impressing your supervisors,” Patry advises. “You want a stellar report, so you should only be doing an odd bit of other work in your third seat.”
One junior recalled their initial nerves about starting their pupillage, but highlighted how supportive they found the set: "I felt I was able to perform at my best, without worrying about practising.” Whatever your seat, pupils do “mostly the live work that your supervisor is doing,” our junior source added. “Supervisors are incredibly hands-on and provide regular feedback,” Patry tells us.
“Having happy and motivated junior members and pupils is crucially important, so we’re constantly checking to make sure our pupils aren’t working all hours.”
Several of our sources also flagged Landmark's commitment to wellbeing. Ball explains that the set is “extremely focused on making sure our pupils have a work/life balance There’s zero expectation to work all hours under the sun.” Patry confides: “I had a nightmare as a pupil; there was so much competition, I worked too hard. The best comes from pupils if they’re properly supported, given adequate time and not working too hard.” The set, therefore, wants people to “be home by 6pm,” Patry notes. “Having happy and motivated junior members and pupils is crucially important, so we’re constantly checking to make sure our pupils aren’t working all hours.” Patry adds that “pupils are not in competition. I cannot stress that enough.” There will “never be a situation where you’re told ‘You’re good enough, but we’ve got too many people.’” Landmark retained three pupil qualifiers in 2022.
Pupils complete three written assessments – “one for each of the first three seats.” These assessments are “set by a senior member of chambers on a complicated piece of law. They are hard,” a pupil source laughed ruefully. “Hard. But doable.” In addition, there are “two advocacy assessments as well.”
The tenancy offer “is dependent on whether you’ve met the required standard,” one pupil stated. All the exercises and assessments mentioned above “go into that.” The decision is “made by the recruitment committee, which is made up of around ten barristers, covering both silks and juniors,” our pupil source continued. “They get all the papers, read everything and make a recommendation, which goes to the management committee.” That committee then “issues a notice and members of chambers have seven days to object. If someone objects,” sources said, “then there has to be an all-members vote. But in living memory that hasn’t happened.” The set retained three qualifiers in 2022.
The Application Process
If Landmark’s three Ps (planning, property and public law), along with its personality and supportive environment are appealing, pupils told us: “The application, which is on the pupillage gateway, has five questions.” Those questions, says Patry, are “Landmark-specific questions.”
The set whittles down this initial batch of applications to around 40 candidates, who are asked to complete a written assessment. We heard that “you don’t have to do any prep. You’re given papers and asked to write something related to them.” After a further cut, candidates who are still in the mix do “interviews with Carine Patry KC, the chief executive and another leading silk,” a pupil informed us.
“You have to be clever, obviously. So, someone who’s read up on our recent cases and can show that they’re interested by X case will stand out.”
“Before the interview I had 15 to 20 minutes to read a problem question and think about it," recalled one pupil. "Then in the interview they asked some questions about my application and then we talked about the problem.” Patry tells us that Landmark is looking for “a genuine interest in what the chambers offers. We’re all human and we all want people to come and say, ‘We love what you do. I want to be here.’” Patry adds: “You have to be clever, obviously. So, someone who’s read up on our recent cases and can show that they’re interested by X case will stand out.” Balls adds that in addition, “now more than ever we’re looking for team players – people who want to meet people, who want to make connections. Our client base wants team players, so that’s a major part of what we look for in pupils.”
And finally... Ball tells us that the aim of the set “is to grow. We want to recruit across all three areas in the next 18 months to two years.”
180 Fleet Street,
Members have been involved in some of the most significant cases and inquiries in recent years, including Crossrail and HS2, the third runway for Heathrow, the Supreme Court hearing on the prorogation of Parliament, the Supreme Court property cases General Motors UK Ltd v The Manchester Ship Canal Co Ltd and Peel Water Services Ltd and Regency Villas Title Ltd and others v Diamond Resorts (Europe) Ltd, the Infected Blood and Child Abuse Inquiries and the infringement of LGBTQ+ rights case Jones v AG Trinidad & Tobago.
The pupillage year is divided into four seats of three months each, during which time we will encourage you to work for a cross-section of members and we will arrange for our Silks to act as your satellite supervisors on more complex cases. This will allow you to see a wide variety of work and take advantage of Landmark’s unique position as a leading specialist set, with significant overlap between its private and public law practices. In your second six months you will also be offered opportunities to appear in court of your own accord, usually in the County Court or First-Tier Tribunal.
We are committed to providing our pupils with high-quality and constructive training. To that end, you will receive regular feedback from your supervisors and, at the end of the first and third seats, you will be invited to participate in formal feedback sessions with the Chair and Secretaries of our Pupillage Committee. Finally, our pupils participate in, and receive feedback in relation to, three written and one oral advocacy assessments during their pupillage year.
For further details about pupillage, mini-pupillage, Landmark’s open evenings, property moot competition and judicial review moot competition, please visit: www.landmarkchambers.co.uk/pupillagerecruitment
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Bar, 2023
- Rating & Valuation (Band 1)
- Administrative & Public Law (Band 2)
- Agriculture & Rural Affairs (Band 2)
- Civil Liberties & Human Rights (Band 3)
- Community Care (Band 2)
- Education (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 1)
- Immigration (Band 2)
- Local Government (Band 1)
- Planning (Band 1)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 1)
- Social Housing (Band 3)