This top commercial Chancery set offers pupils "astonishing feedback" and a colourful social scene.
Maitland Chambers pupillage review 2022
This set can be found between the charming Stone Buildings in London’s Lincoln’s Inn. Steeped in legal history, the Inn dates back to the late thirteenth century. Senior clerk John Wiggs defines the essence of today's Maitland: “We’re a commercial Chancery set, and we undertake everything from high-value, complex commercial litigation for wealthy individuals, right through to shareholder disputes and civil fraud.” About 95% of the work at Maitland comes under the commercial Chancery umbrella, with commercial litigation, trust disputes, insolvencies, civil fraud, property litigation and company/shareholder disputes being the backbone of the set’s work. The remaining 5% includes trusts advisory, pensions and charities work. Chambers UK celebrates Maitland for its work in (surprise, surprise) commercial Chancery, as well as its charities, company, civil fraud, offshore, partnership, real estate and restructuring/insolvency expertise. The set’s clients run the gamut, from big international firms, offshore firms and smaller, niche firms.
"We undertake everything from high-value, complex commercial litigation for wealthy individuals, right through to shareholder disputes and civil fraud.”
The set has a diverse range of recent work highlights: in the commercial Chancery/fraud sphere, Catherine Newman QC recently acted for copper traders Red Kite which sought multi-million pounds of damages from Barclays after allegations that the bank misused its clients’ confidential information. Elsewhere, David Mumford QC and Thomas Munby acted for the State of Qatar in a claim against Banque Havilland in the Commercial Court, which arose out of the blockade of Qatar by several gulf states. Qatar claimed the bank participated in a conspiracy to harm its economic interests by manipulating the market.
In the restructuring field, Michael Gibbon QC acted for the administrators of Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks, and Jaeger, in obtaining an urgent injunction against an employee who gained control of multiple domain names associated with the online trading of the companies. Back in the commercial world, Andrew Twigger QC acted for Merrill Lynch International on a claim for 2.5 million Swiss Francs regarding several foreign exchange transactions that took place around the point when the Swiss National Bank announced that the Swiss Franc had been ‘de-pegged’ from the Euro, which created price volatility.
The Application Process
The pupillage committee sifts through between 100 and 200 applications every year which now come through the Pupillage Gateway. Pupillage committee member Thomas Munby details what sorts of qualities chambers look out for at the initial paper stage: “We look for analytical ability, advocacy potential, judgement, interpersonal skills and temperament. We re-designed our application form a few years back to have a process that looks for these qualities from all kinds of applicants.” How does one determine all this from a form, you may ask? Munby continues: “In terms of analytical ability, at the paper stage we look at their academic results – we also contextualise these results for candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds via the Rare recruitment system. For advocacy, judgement, interpersonal skills and temperament, we ask candidates to give us evidence from their own life experiences where they have demonstrated the qualities we are looking for.”
“Every pupil we take on is a prospective tenant.”
Around 30 candidates come to chambers for the first-round interview, where they’re given a short problem and have a competency interview. During the competency interview, interviewees are asked to detail a time they’ve had to deal with a particular type of situation – it is designed to test both advocacy and judgement competency but does not require a legal background to answer. For the problem question, candidates are given a short period of time in advance to mull over the question and then discuss their view on it with the panel. Ten candidates make it to the second round, where they’ll discuss a more detailed problem with around four members of chambers.
Thomas Munby describes the second round of interviews as a mock conference: “Interviewees will have a formal discussion with the panel surrounding the problem question. The panel are looking to see if the candidate can spot the complex issues, come to a rational answer and communicate all of this well.”Maitland looks to recruit up to three pupils each year, and as Munby notes: “Every pupil we take on is a prospective tenant.”
When scouting for pupils-to-be, Maitland Chambers is careful not create a bunch of cookie-cutter pupils. Munby explains: “We try to not have a fixed idea on what type of person we look for – it is as simple as someone who excels in the interviews and demonstrates the qualities we think make a good commercial Chancery barrister.”John Wiggs gives a few tips for those who are in it for the long haul: “It’s important to understand the dynamics of the Bar and not to underestimate it. It’s a self-employed job and it can get lonely at times, which doesn’t suit everybody. With this also comes great flexibility: you can work as hard as you want – it’s all there for the taking.”
“We receive an astonishing amount of feedback to guide us through the pupillage."
The culture at the set was described with the words “friendly” and “inclusive” by our interviewees. Despite the troubles of the pandemic, pupils have remained connected to their colleagues virtually: “This year has by no means been the typical pupillage experience, but Maitland have put on some really impressive events virtually, like welcome events, drinks and activities.” As for traditions, Maitland puts on chambers tea every day, where everyone gets together with a nice warm cuppa and biscuits. A pupil enthused: “It’s a great way to learn – members discuss different points of law and recommend textbooks, but it’s all very informal.” Pub Co is another one of the set’s traditions: every Thursday evening junior members congregate at the pub for a few. Not to mention, some also partake in a good old-fashioned fish and chips for lunch on a Friday.
The Pupillage Experience
Each pupil sits with four different supervisors for ten weeks at a time until June – these essentially serve as four ten-week assessments. One explained that “each piece of work you do for each supervisor is assessed, you’ll be graded and receive feedback from the get-go.”Another weighed in: “We receive an astonishing amount of feedback to guide us through the pupillage – it’s very much a pathway to success. Senior staff are truly invested in us.” Thomas Munby describes the supervisor's role: “The supervisor is immersing the pupil in their practice, it’s like an apprenticeship. Pupils will take on a range of practice work as part of the training process and keep a record of their work over their year.”
Pupils didn’t notice a huge distinction between the first and second six as Maitland does not have a practising second six. This invariably means pupils end up doing a fair chunk of ‘dead’ work – exercises set by their supervisor on closed cases. A pupil reflected on their own experience: “The change happens when the assessment period is over and the tenancy decision is made. Both the first and second six are very much about making the most of the pupillage to make sure you hit the ground running when tenancy happens.”
Pupils primarily take on dead work assignments and sometimes assist on live cases. It can be a colourful array of work depending on their supervisor – “some do more landlord and tenant work, professional negligence, insolvency, general commercial disputes, company law and even some small bits of IP and probate work as well!” Typical pupil tasks include drafting pleadings, working on skeleton arguments and writing opinions. A junior said: “Maitland as a set has a very broad range of practice areas, and as a pupil you’ll tend to take on work from all corners of the set. As you get more senior, you’ll develop a more specialised focus.”
“Maitland as a set has a very broad range of practice areas.”
Pupils are assessed on every piece of work but “nobody is at record standard from day one – the work you produce towards the end of the pupillage is much more important.” Supervisors compile written reports at the end of each seat which go towards the tenancy decision, along with results from pupils’ six advocacy assessments, which take place in front of a barrister ‘judge’.
The tenancy decision is made in the summertime, typically in late June, where advocacy assessors meet with pupils’ supervisors to discuss each pupil’s grades and whether they’ve made the cut. Munby explains that “the pupillage committee delegates to the supervisors and the trainers on our in-house advocacy programme, who carefully collate scores of the assessments throughout the course of the pupillage. Then they collectively reach a recommendation on whether the pupil has reached the standard.” In 2021 two out of three pupils made tenancy.
7 Stone Buildings,
- No of silks 23
- No of juniors 46
- No of pupils Up to 3
- Contact Valerie Piper, Pupillage Secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Method of application Pupillage Gateway
- Pupillages (pa) Up to 3 funded
- Income £70,000 pa
- Tenancies in last three years 7
Type of work undertaken
Diversity, inclusion and wellbeing:
Maitland Chambers has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, both within our own set of Chambers and across the Bar as a whole. We are proud of that commitment. We are also proud of our internal processes for fair recruitment, which reflect (we believe) the very best practice currently in use at the commercial and chancery Bar and are kept under regular review.
But we also understand that, given the long-term and structural inequalities of life in our country, more is required to ensure that our Chambers (and the commercial and chancery Bar as a whole) fully reflect the diversity of the society which we serve. We welcome applications from people from all sections of society regardless of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief or age and encourage applications from groups presently under-represented at the commercial and Chancery Bar. Current chambers initiatives specifically designed to promote such applications include:
- Our in house Mentoring Scheme for potential applicants from ethnic groups underrepresented at the commercial / chancery Bar (including, in particular, black applicants)
- Our regular Women at the Commercial Chancery Bar events
We are also strongly supportive of initiatives to increase the diversity of new talent joining the commercial and Chancery Bar generally, including through our participation in the Sutton Trust’s Pathways to Law programme, the Social Mobility Foundation’s Bar Placement Scheme, our sponsorship of the Cambridge Law Faculty’s Access and Widening Participation Scheme, the involvement of our members in the Chancery Bar Association’s “Step into law and MORE” scheme, and the participation of members in a wide variety of mentoring schemes and other outreach activities.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Bar, 2021
- Chancery: Commercial (Band 1)
- Chancery: Traditional (Band 3)
- Charities (Band 2)
- Commercial Dispute Resolution (Band 3)
- Company (Band 2)
- Fraud: Civil (Band 2)
- Offshore (Band 2)
- Partnership (Band 2)
- Professional Negligence (Band 4)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 2)
- Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 2)