As the premier planners of the Bar, Landmark also warrants a serious look for those interested in public and property law.
Landmark Chambers pupillage review
2002 was a landmark year. Halle Berry became the first black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, Ben Affleck was named sexiest man of the year by People Magazine, and devastatingly, Justin Timberlake and Britney broke up. But over on the legal stage, this was also the year Landmark Chambers entered the scene, making it younger than your average avocado-toast-loving millennial. But while millennials are frequently depicted (unfairly, might we add) as lazy, entitled and lacking aspiration, we can say with confidence that Landmark covets none of these undesirable qualities.
Since its inception, Landmark has grown to establish itself as the pre-eminent planning set of London, the sole holder of a top ranking in the field from Chambers UK Bar. It is also top ranked for its expertise in environment, local planning and community care, and is highly regarded for its agriculture and real estate litigation capabilities. In fact, Landmark’s barristers collectively haul in over 100 Chambers UK Bar rankings, belaying its prestige and status as one of the larger sets in the city. And it’s set to grow larger still, as senior practice manager Mark Ball points out: “We opened our Birmingham office last year and we’ve seen real growth in our property practice, which has expanded by 50% in the last 15 months. Of the six laterals that have recently joined the set, five are property lawyers, and the other is a public law specialist. Moving forward we will continue to build our international profile and look to attract strong lateral recruits across the board.”
“I was out of the chambers two or three days a week, going to planning inquiries and attending court.”
Ball estimates that planning makes up around 60% of Landmark’s total workload, the remainder being split equally between public and property law. This balance of practice areas was a big draw for one of this year’s pupils: “If you want to do property law, you’re generally looking at Chancery sets, and I wasn’t necessarily interested in that type of work. I was interested in both property and public law, which I think is quite a rare combination.” As a business, the set is divided into five practice teams: two teams handle planning work, one does public law, another focuses on property, and there’s a development team which focuses on managing juniors’ workloads. Juniors may remain a part of the development team for up to seven years after gaining tenancy, sampling work across the board before typically choosing to specialise in one area. However, Ball points out that this model is “only a rough guide,” adding that “juniors can opt to specialise after a year if they wish.”
The Application Process
Landmark has traditionally offered two separate streams of application. The first opens before Gateway in November and offers just one spot for those with an interest specifically in property law. The second application route opens up later through Gateway. It’s also “open to those who are not successful the first time round,” head of pupillage committee Carine Patry points out. This may be changing in 2020, as all pupillage recruitment moves in line with the Gateway. Three members of the set are tasked with whittling down 200 or so applications to around 40 for the second stage, which features a 45-minute written assessment. “It’s something legal-based that doesn’t require much knowledge,” Patry explains, “maybe a question around some statutory provisions.”
Around 12 to 15 candidates are invited back to the final interview, which includes a shorter written task, followed by an interview. “Mine was with a panel of five people,” one pupil recalled. Candidates discuss the writing question and then face “competency style questions” from the interviewers – “it’s more of a dialogue than a grilling,” one source felt.The questions here are often topical, “which gives people a chance to show a bit of personality,” Patry tells us. Last year’s question was about “the recognition of the rights of trans people to their children.”
The Pupillage Experience
Whether pupils come through Gateway or not, the pupillage structure remains the same. All pupils complete four three-month seats covering the set’s main disciplines: property, public and planning. Pupils are free to choose where they wish to return for their fourth seat. “If you’re in the property stream, there’s an expectation that you will return to property for your fourth seat, but that’s not set in stone,” one junior explained, adding that across seats “a clear majority of the work you’re doing is live. If your supervisor has a hearing coming up, you might help draft the speaking notes and pleadings, prepare skeleton arguments, and conduct research.”
In the planning seat, “I was out of the chambers two or three days a week, going to planning inquiries and attending court in regard to judicial reviews,”one pupil told us. “I was even able to attend the judicial review of the National Planning Policy Framework, which is the document in planning.” James Maurici QC recently represented the Secretary of State, defending five judicial reviews brought against the Airports National Policy Statement concerning the runway expansion at Heathrow. Claimants include five London boroughs, the Mayor of London, and Greenpeace. Meanwhile member Richard Moules acted for residents of apartments beside the Tate Modern, who claimed the Tate’s viewing platform breaches neighbouring residents’ rights to privacy.
“There was one day where we walked around Mayfair with a valuer, snooping around all the nice flats and houses.”
Property was “much more paper-based,” with appearances in court rarer than in planning. That’s not to say pupils were stuck inside all day either: “I did some leasehold enfranchisement work, which involves a lot about valuation. There was one day where we walked around Mayfair with a valuer, snooping around all the nice flats and houses – it gives you lots of house envy!” Pupils also reported working on right of way disputes. Tim Morshead QC recently worked on a very complex case at the Supreme Court surrounding exactly how to define a ‘highway’. On the less nitty-gritty side of things, David Holland QC acted for a former tenant of a large office in Birmingham in a multimillion-pound dilapidations claim brought by its former landlord.
Sources described the public law seat as “somewhere in the middle” of planning and property, with a combination of paperwork in chambers and getting out for court visits. “In terms of the work, it’s top stuff,” maintained one pupil, who regaled their time “going to the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg and advising the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.” In a Supreme Court case, member David Blundell worked with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to challenge the legality of the prohibition on abortion in cases of rape, incest and serious fetal abnormality.
“We’re too big to run things in the old-fashioned, traditional way.”
Pupils complete one written assessment in each of their three seats, which might be “writing an advice or pleading.” They also do one advocacy assessment mid-way through their pupillage. “Mine was a judicial review application for permission and was done over three days,” one pupil explained. “I spent a day and a half writing a skeleton and then there was a mock hearing the following day with a silk who sat in as a judge.” The results of these assessments inform the tenancy decision, along with reports from supervisors, members of chambers, and instructing solicitors. In 2020, one of the set's pupils gained tenancy.
Patry pinned Landmark’s culture down to its size, reflecting that “we’re too big to run things in the old-fashioned, traditional way. We have multimillion budgets and a huge number of staff members need looking after. There is also an increasing recognition of the importance of diversity and wellbeing at the Bar.” One pupil “really valued” having a women’s networking group. Sources also pointed to “small touches that contribute to making Landmark a great place to work,” such as cake on Mondays and a monthly masseuse.
Big firm, little firm, cardboard box
Landmark works with everyone, Ball tells us, "from larger international outfits such as CMS and BCLP, all the way down to high street firms."
180 Fleet Street,
- No of silks 35
- No of juniors 61
- No of pupils 3
- Contact Natasha White-Foy, HR and Administration Manager
- Method of application The Bar Council Pupillage Gateway
- Pupillages (pa) Up to three 12-month pupillages
- Tenancies in the past three years 6
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