The Bar

The Lex 100 – Bar Guide  

Welcome to the inaugural Lex 100 Pupil Barrister Survey and Bar Guide. This year, for the first time ever, we explored the other side of the legal profession: the fascinating world of the Bar. From procuring a pupillage to being offered tenancy at your chambers of choice, our Bar Guide aims to help you navigate the sought-after (and extremely competitive!) career path of a barrister. 

Who took part? 

The Lex 100 Pupil Barrister Survey was sent to pupils and junior barristers up to two years in tenancy at sets and chambers across England and Wales. We were overwhelmed by the response; more than 250 pupils and juniors from over 100 chambers took part! 

The findings 

We asked respondents to rate and comment on different aspects of their pupillage, from quality of work to client contact to work/life balance. We also asked a whole host of questions, such as why they had chosen their particular chambers or set and what had been the highlights and challenges of their career so far. 

‘There is no end of high-calibre advocates to learn from, and the cases that come into chambers are second to none’ – pupil at Blackstone Chambers 

When analysing the data, we expected to see significant differences in the way pupils felt about their jobs. We thought that the location of a chambers or the specialist practice area of a set would have an impact on things like job satisfaction and quality of work. We wondered whether those undertaking pupillages in commercial sets would have less job satisfaction than those working in criminal chambers. Or whether pupils in London chambers would report a worse work/life balance than their counterparts in other parts of the UK. Much to our surprise, the results were similar across the board. Regardless of specialism, geographic location or size of chambers, scores were high and the feedback broadly positive. 

‘[The training] is 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.’ – pupil at Gatehouse Chambers 

Maybe this is reflective of the sheer amount of preparatory work and research that goes into becoming a barrister. With pupillages this hard to come by, you’ve got to really want it to make it, and pupils know what they’re letting themselves in for long before they start.

Or maybe it’s because barristers are self employed. Although they work out of a set or chambers, each individual barrister is responsible for finding their own work (alongside their clerk) and are paid on a project-by-project basis. This gives them a certain degree of control over the type and volume of work they undertake. 

Academic background 

The Bar has traditionally been dominated by Oxbridge graduates, and despite the profession becoming under increasing pressure to diversify its pupil intakes, progress (as in the rest of the legal profession) has been relatively slow. 40% of this year’s Lex 100 survey respondents attended the universities of Oxford or Cambridge at either undergraduate or postgraduate level. Whilst this may not sound exorbitantly high, consider that Oxbridge graduates only account for 1% of UK graduates as a whole.

And when it comes to degree subject, 64% of all respondents studied law at undergraduate level. For reference, the split is closer to 50% among trainee solicitors. It will be interesting to see how these statistics change year on year 

‘The quality of the work is invariably interesting and important’ – pupil at Blackstone Chambers 

Anonymity 

Because most sets and chambers only take on a small number of pupils, it was very important that we protect the anonymity of our respondents. As a result, the Lex 100 Bar profiles are slightly different to the solicitor firm profiles. There is no verdict or scoring but there are quotes and comments from pupils about their experiences. 

The table below is designed as a starting point for further research into different chambers and a career at the Bar. The chambers with full profiles are highlighted in bold. In the profiles you will find information about their pupillage offering, insights into the day-to-day life and work of a junior barrister and anonymous feedback from our survey respondents. 

Featured Chambers

ChambersSpecialismLocation
1 Chancery LanePublicLondon
1 King’s Bench WalkFamilyLondon
11 South SquareCommercialLondon
12 King’s Bench WalkCommercial/ PublicLondon
15 New Bridge StreetCriminalLondon
18 St John Street ChambersMultidisciplinaryManchester
187 Fleet Street Chambers (The Chambers of Andrew Trollope QC and Richard Christie QC)CriminalLondon
1GCFamilyLondon
2 Dr Johnson’s BuildingsCommercial/ ChanceryLondon
2 Harcourt BuildingsFamilyTemple
2 Temple GardensCommercialLondon
25 Bedford RowCriminal / PublicLondon
3 Bolt Court ChambersMultidisciplinaryLondon
3 Paper BuildingsMultidisciplinaryLondon
3 Temple GardensCriminalLondon
3 Verulam BuildingsCommercialLondon
30 Park PlaceMultidisciplinaryCardiff
39 Essex ChambersCommercial/ PublicLondon
4 Brick CourtCommercial/ PublicLondon
4 New SquareCommercial/ PublicLondon
4 Paper BuildingsFamilyLondon
4 Pump Court (Chambers of Nick Vineall QC and Sean Brannigan QC)CommercialLondon
4 Stone BuildingsCommercialLondon
42 Bedford RowPublic/ FamilyLondon
5 Chancery LaneCommercialLondon
5 Essex CourtPublicLondon
5 Paper BuildingsCriminalLondon
5 St Andrew’s HillMultidisciplinaryLondon
5 Stone BuildingsCommercial/ ChanceryLondon
7 King’s Bench WalkCommercialLondon
8 New Square Intellectual PropertyCommercialLondon
9 Bedford RowCriminalLondon
9 Park PlaceMultidisciplinaryCardiff
Albion ChambersCriminal / PublicBristol
Atlantic ChambersMultidisciplinaryLiverpool
Becket ChambersPublic/ FamilyCanterbury
Blackstone ChambersCommercial/ PublicLondon
Brick Court ChambersCommercialLondon
Broadway House ChambersCriminal / PublicBradford, Leeds
Browne Jacobson LLPMultidisciplinaryNottingham
Chambers of Mark Love, 2 Dr Johnson’s BuildingsCommercial/ ChanceryLondon
ClerksroomMultidisciplinaryNationwide
CloistersPublicLondon
Cobden House ChambersCriminal / PublicManchester
Colleton ChambersMultidisciplinaryExeter
Cornwall Street BarristersMultidisciplinaryBirmingham
Crown ChambersCommercial/ PublicHull
Crown Office ChambersCommercialLondon
Deans Court ChambersMultidisciplinaryManchester
Devereux ChambersCommercialLondon
Doughty Street ChambersCriminal / PublicLondon
East Anglian ChambersMultidisciplinaryNorwich
Enterprise ChambersCommercial/ ChanceryLondon, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle
Essex Court ChambersCommercial/ PublicLondon
Exchange ChambersMultidisciplinaryManchester, Liverpool, Leeds
Exchequer ChambersCommercial/ PublicLondon
Falcon ChambersProperty/CommercialLondon
Fenners ChambersEmployment/ CommercialCambridge
Five PaperCommercial/ ChanceryLondon
Foundry ChambersCriminalLondon
Fountain Court ChambersCommercialLondon
Francis Taylor BuildingPublic/ PlanningLondon
Gatehouse ChambersCommercial/ PublicLondon
Henderson ChambersCommercial/ PublicLondon
KCH Garden SquareMultidisciplinaryNottingham, Leicester
Keating ChambersCommercialLondon
Lamb BuildingCriminalLondon
Littleton ChambersCommercial/ PublicLondon
Maitland ChambersCommercial/ ChanceryLondon
Matrix ChambersMultidisciplinaryLondon
New Court ChambersFamilyLondon
No5 ChambersMultidisciplinaryLondon
Northampton ChambersPublic/ FamilyNorthampton
Old Square ChambersEmployment / PublicLondon
One Essex CourtCommercialLondon
Oriel ChambersMultidisciplinaryLiverpool
Pallant ChambersFamily/ CommercialChichester
Park Plowden ChambersCommercial/ ChanceryLeeds, Newcastle
Park Square Barristers Ltd.MultidisciplinaryLeeds
Pump Court ChambersMultidisciplinaryLondon, Winchester
QEB Hollis WhitemanFamilyLondon
Quadrant ChambersCommercialLondon
Queen Square ChambersMultidisciplinaryBristol
Radcliffe ChambersCommercial/ ChanceryLondon
Reeds ChambersMultidisciplinaryBristol
Regency ChambersCommercial/ ChanceryPeterborough
Richmond Chambers LLPImmigrationLondon
Rowchester ChambersMultidisciplinaryBirmingham
South SquareCommercialLondon
Spire BarristersPublic/ FamilyLeeds
St John’s ChambersCommercial/ PublicBristol
St Philips ChambersMultidisciplinaryBirmingham, Leeds
Tanfield ChambersProperty/CommercialLondon
Ten Old SquareCommercial/ ChanceryLondon
Three New Square Intellectual PropertyIP/ CommercialLondon
Three StoneCommercial/ ChanceryLondon
Trinity ChambersMultidisciplinaryChelmsford
Trinity ChambersMultidisciplinaryNewcastle, Middlesbrough, Leeds
Twenty EssexCommercialLondon
Walnut House ChambersMultidisciplinaryExeter
WilberforceCommercialLondon
XXIV Old BuildingsCommercial/ ChanceryLondon