The lowdown - Pupils (in their own words) on Gatehouse Chambers

We sent The Lex 100 Pupil Barrister survey to pupils and juniors up to two years in tenancy at Gatehouse Chambers. Here is what they had to say:

Why did you choose this set/chambers over any others? ‘Friendly atmosphere, commercial/businesslike attitude, expansion plans’

How does your training compare to what you hear from peers at other chambers? ‘Very good – feedback is prompt and very detailed. The work is set on the basis of training you, as opposed to providing a free research resource for members. The wingers system enables you work for as many members as possible and allows you to try many different practice areas without committing to a full seat’

What is the best thing about the set/chambers? ‘The friendly atmosphere’

What is the worst thing about the set/chambers? ‘Working from home and how isolating it can be. Chambers have made strong efforts to have weekly chats over zoom and we are encouraged to call. It is just a little more tricky than sticking your head round someone’s door. The upside is I don’t feel that a lack of “visibility” will impact my tenancy decision because of the very clear selection process’

What has been the best moment of your pupillage or tenancy to date? ‘When my supervisor told me that my work was excellent and he would gladly send it out in his own name with no alterations’

What has been the most challenging moment of your pupillage or tenancy to date? ‘Turning around heavy pieces of work in a short amount of time’

About Chambers

We are a successful, 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 legal directories such as The Legal 500.

We specialise in domestic and international commercial, construction, insolvency, insurance and property as well as private client, professional negligence and clinical negligence/personal injury work. We are innovative, approachable and business-focused. We are committed to providing first-class facilities and in 2021 moved to state-of-the-art modern premises.

We are also a market leader in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion, winning awards for our work in these areas. In July 2021 we took on our current name, having discovered that our predecessor name (Hardwicke) was associated with a former Lord Chancellor who supported slavery.

Who should apply

We look for pupils with exceptional intellectual ability, excellent communication skills and a genuine interest in our areas of work. You 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. Good business development skills and a business-like approach are key factors in our selection process.

Pupillage programme

We offer up to two 12-month pupillages, both with a view to membership. Our policy is to only offer pupillage to candidates with the potential to become members of Chambers.

We put a great deal of effort into providing ongoing support and training. 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 that 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 statements of case and opinions on their cases, attending conferences and court hearings, and benefit from regular feedback.

Advocacy is a key component of a pupillage with us. 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.

We expect our first and second year tenants to bill well in excess of the guaranteed earnings scheme we offer. The guarantee scheme is intended to give financial security and help new tenants plan in their first couple of years of practice.

For more information, please read our pupillage brochure.

A day in the life of… a pupil at Gatehouse Chambers

Departments to date: Commercial, Insolvency, Property, Professional negligence

University: University of Oxford Oxford Brookes City Law School University of Cambridge

Degree: English Language & Literature, GDL, BPTC, LLM

8.30am: I stop for a chat at reception, and pass through the practice room on my way up to my supervisor’s room. One of the practice managers is keen to hear how I’m getting on, and tells me a little bit about one of the solicitors who has recently instructed me for a hearing the following week.

8.45am: I settle down in my supervisor’s room and drink the coffee I grabbed on my way into chambers while I check my emails and wait for my supervisor to arrive. My inbox is fairly quiet this morning, but I respond to an email from the marketing team asking for a volunteer to write an article and make a note on my to-do list, as well as gratefully agreeing with the fee suggested by a practice manager for a piece of work.

9.00am: My supervisor arrives, and suggests that we go over a piece of written work I finished yesterday so that I can get some feedback. We go through my draft pleadings line by line, and my supervisor explains how they would do things differently and why, and gives me a copy of their own work on the same case to look through.

9.30am: Once we have finished going through my written work, my supervisor gives me some additional papers for the hearing in an insolvency case he has this afternoon so that I can read through them. He asks me to research one particular point from his opponent’s skeleton, and I start looking through practitioner texts and authorities.

10.30am: I email the helpful authorities I found over to my supervisor, and we have a brief discussion of the results of my research and how my supervisor plans to present the issue in his submissions.

11.00am: At Gatehouse Chambers, we have three supervisors during the course of pupillage, and two wingers for each supervisor. I go to speak to one of my wingers to ask her for some written work (preferably on a property matter, so that I can develop my experience in that area). After a conversation about how pupillage is going and how busy everybody in chambers seems to be at the moment, we get down to brass tacks: I am given a set of papers and asked to write an opinion on the merits of a summary judgment application. I go back to my supervisor’s room to start working on it.

12.30pm: My fellow pupil and I have agreed to go for lunch, and we head to a nearby café to get a bit of time away from chambers and share a bit of gossip.

1.30pm: I walk over to the Rolls Building with my supervisor and meet my supervisor’s instructing solicitor before the beginning of the hearing.

4.30pm: We get back to chambers following the hearing and discuss how it went. My supervisor asks about the work I was given by my winger earlier, and runs through my to-do list with me. He tells me that he won’t be in chambers tomorrow, but that another member of chambers has a spare desk in their room that I can work at for the day (and that they may even have some work for me to look at if I find myself running out of things to do) and that he will be available if I want to talk anything through on a video or telephone call.

5.30pm: My supervisor tells me that he will be staying late to work on something urgent, and that I should feel free to leave for the day.

Diversity and inclusion