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

Chambers Specialism Location
1 Chancery Lane Public London
1 King’s Bench Walk Family London
11 South Square Commercial London
12 King’s Bench Walk Commercial/ Public London
15 New Bridge Street Criminal London
18 St John Street Chambers Multidisciplinary Manchester
187 Fleet Street Chambers (The Chambers of Andrew Trollope QC and Richard Christie QC) Criminal London
1GC Family London
2 Dr Johnson’s Buildings Commercial/ Chancery London
2 Harcourt Buildings Family Temple
2 Temple Gardens Commercial London
25 Bedford Row Criminal / Public London
3 Bolt Court Chambers Multidisciplinary London
3 Paper Buildings Multidisciplinary London
3 Temple Gardens Criminal London
3 Verulam Buildings Commercial London
30 Park Place Multidisciplinary Cardiff
39 Essex Chambers Commercial/ Public London
4 Brick Court Commercial/ Public London
4 New Square Commercial/ Public London
4 Paper Buildings Family London
4 Pump Court (Chambers of Nick Vineall QC and Sean Brannigan QC) Commercial London
4 Stone Buildings Commercial London
42 Bedford Row Public/ Family London
5 Chancery Lane Commercial London
5 Essex Court Public London
5 Paper Buildings Criminal London
5 St Andrew’s Hill Multidisciplinary London
5 Stone Buildings Commercial/ Chancery London
7 King’s Bench Walk Commercial London
8 New Square Intellectual Property Commercial London
9 Bedford Row Criminal London
9 Park Place Multidisciplinary Cardiff
Albion Chambers Criminal / Public Bristol
Atlantic Chambers Multidisciplinary Liverpool
Becket Chambers Public/ Family Canterbury
Blackstone Chambers Commercial/ Public London
Brick Court Chambers Commercial London
Broadway House Chambers Criminal / Public Bradford, Leeds
Browne Jacobson LLP Multidisciplinary Nottingham
Chambers of Mark Love, 2 Dr Johnson’s Buildings Commercial/ Chancery London
Clerksroom Multidisciplinary Nationwide
Cloisters Public London
Cobden House Chambers Criminal / Public Manchester
Colleton Chambers Multidisciplinary Exeter
Cornwall Street Barristers Multidisciplinary Birmingham
Crown Chambers Commercial/ Public Hull
Crown Office Chambers Commercial London
Deans Court Chambers Multidisciplinary Manchester
Devereux Chambers Commercial London
Doughty Street Chambers Criminal / Public London
East Anglian Chambers Multidisciplinary Norwich
Enterprise Chambers Commercial/ Chancery London, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle
Essex Court Chambers Commercial/ Public London
Exchange Chambers Multidisciplinary Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds
Exchequer Chambers Commercial/ Public London
Falcon Chambers Property/Commercial London
Fenners Chambers Employment/ Commercial Cambridge
Five Paper Commercial/ Chancery London
Foundry Chambers Criminal London
Fountain Court Chambers Commercial London
Francis Taylor Building Public/ Planning London
Gatehouse Chambers Commercial/ Public London
Henderson Chambers Commercial/ Public London
KCH Garden Square Multidisciplinary Nottingham, Leicester
Keating Chambers Commercial London
Lamb Building Criminal London
Littleton Chambers Commercial/ Public London
Maitland Chambers Commercial/ Chancery London
Matrix Chambers Multidisciplinary London
New Court Chambers Family London
No5 Chambers Multidisciplinary London
Northampton Chambers Public/ Family Northampton
Old Square Chambers Employment / Public London
One Essex Court Commercial London
Oriel Chambers Multidisciplinary Liverpool
Pallant Chambers Family/ Commercial Chichester
Park Plowden Chambers Commercial/ Chancery Leeds, Newcastle
Park Square Barristers Ltd. Multidisciplinary Leeds
Pump Court Chambers Multidisciplinary London, Winchester
QEB Hollis Whiteman Family London
Quadrant Chambers Commercial London
Queen Square Chambers Multidisciplinary Bristol
Radcliffe Chambers Commercial/ Chancery London
Reeds Chambers Multidisciplinary Bristol
Regency Chambers Commercial/ Chancery Peterborough
Richmond Chambers LLP Immigration London
Rowchester Chambers Multidisciplinary Birmingham
South Square Commercial London
Spire Barristers Public/ Family Leeds
St John’s Chambers Commercial/ Public Bristol
St Philips Chambers Multidisciplinary Birmingham, Leeds
Tanfield Chambers Property/Commercial London
Ten Old Square Commercial/ Chancery London
Three New Square Intellectual Property IP/ Commercial London
Three Stone Commercial/ Chancery London
Trinity Chambers Multidisciplinary Chelmsford
Trinity Chambers Multidisciplinary Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Leeds
Twenty Essex Commercial London
Walnut House Chambers Multidisciplinary Exeter
Wilberforce Commercial London
XXIV Old Buildings Commercial/ Chancery London