Survey Results - Trainee feedback on 11KBW

The lowdown - Pupils (in their own words) on 11KBW

We sent The Legal 500 Future Lawyers Pupil and Junior Barrister survey to pupils and juniors up to two years in tenancy at 11KBW. Here is what they had to say:

Why did you choose these chambers over any others? ‘The quality of the work and balance of work’, ‘I enjoyed the mini pupillage; great work; supportive people’, ‘the range of work covers commercial, public, employment, and everything in between. You have to be a generalist’

How does your training compare with what you hear from pupils at other chambers? ‘There is a lot of assessment at our chambers (more so than what I have heard from friends at other sets) and I think that has prepared me well for practice’, ‘much better’, ‘my training was significantly more transparent than at other chambers. I received feedback on every piece of work I did, double-marked by two separate members of chambers, and was informed at the end of each seat whether I was on track for tenancy and what areas I should focus on for improvement. I knew where I was every step of the way’

Best thing about chambers? ‘The friendliness of other members of chambers. People are very willing to spend considerable time talking to you about your cases and helping you when you are just starting out’, ‘commitment of members to excellence’, ‘the range of work’

Worst thing about chambers? ‘I think our chambers need to improve its diversity. A lot of work appears to go into this, and things are slowly improving’, ‘lots of other members work from home and don’t come into chambers very often’

Best moment? ‘My pupillage supervisor was the junior on a case that happened (for various reasons) to have three different silks on three different interlocutory applications. Seeing three different approaches to advocacy from three experienced advocates was very useful training’, ‘the extensive feedback I have received on work’, ‘drafting a successful application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court’

Worst moment? ‘The volume of assessments during pupillage was, at times, quite stressful’, ‘entirely missing the point of my first piece of assessed work’

How would you rate the availability of pro bono and/or CSR-related opportunities in your chambers? ‘Good’, ‘excellent. Pro bono is encouraged. I have taken on two cases through Advocate’

About Chambers

Head of chambers: James Goudie KC and Daniel Stilitz KC

Who we are: 11KBW is renowned for the quality of its barristers, advice and advocacy at all levels of call and across all areas of practice. This consistency is maintained by rigorous selection, a supportive culture and an ethos based on exceptional standards throughout the set.

What we do: Our clients are in-house lawyers and solicitors in private practice in the UK and around the world. We are a leading chambers specialising in employment, public and commercial law. We have expertise in a wide range of areas of law surrounding these fields.

What we’re looking for: Please refer to our website for more information. We have a wealth of information in the form of videos and FAQs.

Life as a pupil Raphael Hogarth, pupil (2020-21), 11KBW

I applied to 11KBW because I thought the work sounded interesting. Pupillage quickly provided emphatic confirmation that it is. The year is like an extended album of chambers’ greatest hits, with the bonus that you get to play on each track. If a member of chambers is doing a particularly important, high-profile or interesting case, then there is a good chance that you will be asked to do some work on it.

In my pupillage, I had the chance to work on judicial reviews of the Covid-19 self-isolation rules and the appointment of Dido Harding to NHS Test and Trace, a challenge to the Government’s care homes discharge policy during the first wave of the pandemic, a Privy Council case on gay marriage in Bermuda, an employment tribunal dispute between the former home secretary and the Home Office’s top civil servant, and a Supreme Court appeal on overtime pay. I could not have asked for a more stimulating introduction to chambers’ practice areas.

Most of my work in pupillage was ‘formally assessed’. This means that it was double-marked against a set of assessment criteria, and I knew that it would form part of the evidence base on which chambers ultimately made its tenancy decision. The experience, though, was not very formal at all. There were no artificial time limits, and I asked for more time on several pieces of work that I found difficult. My supervisors also made it clear that it was fine to seek guidance if I got stuck, which I frequently did.

Pupils get a lot of feedback. After each piece of assessed work, the pupil sits down with two members of chambers to discuss it. When I did my first piece of assessed work for my first supervisor, she spent over two hours going through it with me, offering detailed thoughts on how particular sentences and paragraphs might have been crafted differently.

I often think back to her comments in that session, and others, when confronting tricky questions in my own practice now. I have a good jury point, but will I lose the judge’s trust if I make it? Do I deal with this difficult authority upfront or relegate it to a footnote? Will I undermine my primary defence by putting a different one in the alternative? How high should I put a point that my client assures me is rock-solid, but where I doubt the key witness’ account? Practice is a series of thousands of tiny judgements like these, and feedback sessions provide great opportunities to mine members’ experience and intuitions on them.

The process was refreshingly transparent. Because you get oral feedback on every piece of work, you always know how you’re doing. That structured approach to assessment also put me at my ease when getting to know members of chambers in the corridors, at lunch or over coffee. I always knew that I was being assessed on the quality of my work, and not on the quality of my chatter on the way to Pret. Happily, there was plenty of that, and I got to know members across chambers in my pupillage year. Those experiences showed me that, in addition to being a hugely stimulating environment, chambers is a nice workplace, full of nice people.

Diversity and inclusion