There’s nothing Outer-the-ordinary going on at this high-flying set: it continues to demonstrate its capacious expertise across the spheres of health and business law.
Outer Temple Chambers pupillage review 2024
With over 60 years’ experience behind it, Outer Temple Chambers has built up quite a reputation for itself in the worlds of health and business. On the former side, you’ll find robust personal injury and clinical negligence practices, managed by health practice director Paul Barton, which accounts for a good chunk of the set’s revenue. Other areas here include sports, travel, Court of Protection, regulatory, and public law. If business work appeals more, then “pensions matters account for the majority of our work in the business department," says business practice director Sam Carter. "We were one of the first sets to work in this area and the quality of work is from magic circle and top-tier law firms.” Other significant areas for OTC are employment matters followed by health and safety and business crime and regulatory cases. There are sturdy international law, arbitration and commercial litigation practices, with the latter covering “leading cryptocurrency matters, as well as civil fraud, banking and finance, and insolvency cases,” Carter highlights. Matt Sale and Nick Levett complete the director team on the clerking table, working closely with their practice management teams.
“...we're competing with the top sets out there.”
“We don’t shout loud enough about the work we are doing!” a source added. “We take on international litigation and have an office in Dubai – we're competing with the top sets out there.” In Chambers UK Bar, OTC’s standout practices on the business side include employment, pensions, professional discipline, and health and safety. The health side of OTC’s practice picks up accolades in personal injury (including international PI); clinical negligence; and Court of Protection matters tied to health and welfare. A recent employment matter saw Keith Bryant KC act for over 5,000 Tesco retail employees during their equal pay claims, while on the pensions front Naomi Ling has been representing teachers against the Secretary of State for Education in a claim over certain changes made to public sector pensions. International personal injury cases have included Gerard McDermott KC’s representation of the survivors and bereaved of the Grenfell tragedy as they pursued defendants in Philadelphia. Clinical negligence work, meanwhile, has seen Sarah Crowther KC represent an individual against an NHS trust for the alleged failure to diagnose and treat a spinal cord abscess that resulted in complete paraplegia.
“I wanted a set with a broad range of practices,” one pupil told us. “My background and interest was in public law, which OTC covers, as well as a lot of other interesting work.” A junior tenant agreed and added: “It’s very varied at the junior end. It’s a personal decision when it comes to how you want your practice to develop. At my stage, you can start to refine your practice more, but there are people here who are high up and still work across multiple practices – there is that freedom.”
The Pupillage Experience
Pupils follow the typical four seats of three-months duration structure. Head of pupillage Saul Margo tells us that it is common for pupils to complete rotations in four of the following areas: employment, pensions, clinical negligence, commercial litigation, or public law. “There’s no initial grace period,” a pupil told us, “and it’s normal to feel a bit useless at the start, but by the end of my first seat I was doing much more complex schedules of losses in personal injury. You also work with a huge range of clients, spanning government departments, hospitals and trusts.” Margo adds that supervision at OTC is “certainly hands-on: we’re keen to include pupils in calls and emails. In terms of support, they’re all given mentors who they speak with confidentially.”
“...the second six should strike a balance between your own work and work for your supervisors.”
During the second six, “pupils will start to receive more work from members of chambers who are not supervising them but we ensure that all requests from members go through the supervisor first," says Margo. "When pupils get on their feet they tend to see work that spans the full range of chambers’ specialisms.” It is common for a pupil to have at least one multi-day trial in the employment tribunal, as well as other short matters across the range of chambers’ practice areas. A junior tenant also explained that “as you approach your final seat, they ask you what you would like to get more experience in – there is a dialogue right up until the end of pupillage.” They advised that “the second six should strike a balance between your own work and work for your supervisors.”
Each supervisor writes up a report on the pupil’s performance at the end of the seat. “The quarterly reports produced at the end of each of the four seats are very important," says Margo, "as they will show us the trajectory of the pupil’s performance through the year – the later reports carry the most weight.” Formally assessed exercises also play their part in determining whether or not a pupil is offered tenancy: “There are five or six advocacy assessments each year as well as an assessed written exercise blind-marked by three members of chambers. The results are taken into consideration alongside feedback from supervisors, clerks, and solicitors,” Margo explains. “The exercises are important, but I felt that if one went badly, it wouldn’t be the end of the world!” a relieved pupil told us. The oral advocacy exercises can see “pupils going head-to-head!” Pupils take part in the same exercise, but are assessed independently. If you want to get some more advocacy experience, our pupil source recommended taking on pro bono matters: “In the second six my supervisor was happy for me to do pro bono, and it provided me with good advocacy experience.”
Once the pupillage committee has pored over all the feedback and exercises, they make a tenancy recommendation to chambers; 75% of members that attend a quorate meeting need to be in favour of the decision. The set didn't disclose retention figures for 2023, but in 2022, both of OTC's pupils were offered tenancy.
"...we’re a set where fun doesn’t have to be forced!”
“It’s not a stuffy place,” says Margo, before adding: “We always do social and collaborative things each year, including a chambers Christmas party and events to celebrate landmarks in the life of chambers whether that be a new head, a retirement or a new silk. We also have an annual strategy meeting, which normally lasts for a day – it’s not something that happens in all chambers and it’s a great chance for us all to get together and contribute towards key strategic decisions. ” Our junior tenant source added that “we don’t have formalised traditions when it comes to socialising, but that’s because we’re a set where fun doesn’t have to be forced!” The general atmosphere at the set is conducive for spontaneous socialising: “Everyone is lovely, supportive, and wants you to do well. I’m close to my contemporaries, and while some barristers in the industry like to keep things strictly about work, here I would call my colleagues friends!” For a pupil, the typical working day lasts from 9am until 5pm, “but within those hours you are working pretty intensely!”
The Application Process
Aspiring OTC barristers apply through the Pupillage Gateway. The set receives between 300 and 400 applications each year, so don’t give those who are reviewing your application an easy reason to ditch it due to sloppy spelling mistakes or grammatical errors! “We work in pairs to sift through the pupillage applications,” Margo tells us. “We’re marking every application against a set of criteria, which includes an applicant’s potential as an advocate, their academics, and their drive to succeed as a barrister. We also take into account any declared disabilities.” In addition, Margo tells us that OTC has signed up to upReach, “which is an organisation that aims to promote social mobility and provides us with a contextualised recruitment tool: all applicants are asked to fill out a form that gathers information on their school and other areas, such as whether the candidate was a recipient of free school meals or not. A score is generated that we take into consideration.”
"You do have to think on your feet, but just remember that anyone can answer these questions by drawing out examples from their own experience.”
Between 30 and 40 candidates are invited to a first-round interview. Before the interview, candidates are given an exercise “that is usually based on a recent or slightly obscure judgment,” says Margo. “They have some time to produce a summary and an argument as to whether the judgment is right or wrong. One of our barristers will mark that.” During the first-round interview, “there’s normally a legal question, as well as something with an ethical or practice management element to it.”
Seven or eight candidates make it through to the second-round interview, where again they will complete a written exercise beforehand. This round normally includes a self-contained piece of statutory interpretation, and candidates are given the materials they need ahead of the interview. The actual interview takes place with a panel of five members of chambers (that normally includes James Counsell KC as head of governance and Saul Margo as head of pupillage). Interview questions in both rounds also cover “client service and care, as well as competencies that we are looking to assess,” says Margo. “Then we make two offers and keep some candidates as reserves.”
“The vibe was really lovely during the interviews,” a pupil was happy to tell us. “They were fine with me taking the time to answer questions. In the second round, we had to present some arguments and answer competency-based questions. You do have to think on your feet, but just remember that anyone can answer these questions by drawing out examples from their own experience.” Sources only had good things to say about the recruitment process: “They made the process as easy as possible. Loads of chambers didn’t know how to deal with the pandemic, but OTC were really transparent and sent emails to keep me up-to-date. It’s really important to go somewhere where they put time into the process!”
How to nab a pupillage... “OTC does a real range of work, so it’s a good set to come to if you’ve got an open mind about what you’d like to do,” a pupil reflected. “We’re well known for personal injury and employment, so demonstrate that you have interests in those areas and are willing to step into different areas, too. Oh, and learn how to touch type – there's a lot of note taking!”
Outer Temple Chambers
The Outer Temple,
We have been ranked in 9 practice areas by Chambers & Partners and in 25 practice areas by The Legal 500. We offer a structured, well-supported, challenging and broad pupillage experience.
Main areas of work
Banking and financial services, business crime, clinical negligence, commercial, court of protection, disciplinary and regulatory, employment and discrimination, fintech, insolvency and restructuring, pensions and trusts, personal injury, private client, professional negligence, public law, sports law, travel law.
University law careers fairs 2023
This year we hope to attend all or some of the following: University of Law, Legal Cheek, BPP Law Fair, Bar Council Pupillage Fair, and the Target Jobs Pupillage Fair.
Diversity, inclusion and wellbeing:
We are proud to be a Disability Confident, London Living Wage and Mindful employer. We positively encourage applications from groups who are currently under-represented in Chambers such as women, those from ethnic minorities and those with a disability. We have no preference for an undergraduate law degree over the conversion course. We look for the best and the brightest candidates whatever their background.
We welcome applications from transferring solicitors, qualified legal practitioners (including from other relevant jurisdictions) and legal academics wishing to transfer to the Bar. We recognise the skills and experience a previous career can afford a candidate.
Chambers manages its selection process primarily through the Pupillage Gateway (for 12-month pupillages only) and in accordance with the Gateway timetable. Applications undergo an anonymised paper sift in order to identify the candidates that will be invited to a first round interview. Identifying details are removed and candidates are scored on intellectual ability, potential as an advocate, motivation, commitment and compatibility with Chambers. As part of the 2024 selection process, Chambers will be making use of a contextualised recruitment tool in order to assist us in attributing fair and contextualised scores to the applications.
Chambers is a Disability Confident employer. We are recognised as positive about people with disabilities. We offer pupillage applicants with disabilities the option of requesting that their application for pupillage is considered in the spirit of the commitments we make as an employer under this scheme. We give special consideration to such applicants. You do not have to be registered as a disabled person to apply and are automatically eligible if you are affected by cancer, HIV, Multiple Sclerosis, or severe facial disfigurement. New pupils are offered a mentor who can provide confidential support to them throughout their pupillage and who has no involvement in the assessment of their performance during the year.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Bar, 2023
- Court of Protection: Health & Welfare (Band 3)
- Group Litigation (Band 3)
- Clinical Negligence (Band 3)
- Employment (Band 2)
- Health & Safety (Band 2)
- Pensions (Band 2)
- Personal Injury (Band 2)
- Professional Discipline (Band 3)
- Travel: International Personal Injury (Band 2)