Maintaining relationships with more senior members of chambers

Maintaining relationships with more senior members of chambers in the hope of developing opportunities for junior work – or how to impress without annoying or toadying

In many ways, Chambers can operate as an internal market, with senior members being a very important source of work for junior members. Not only this, but working with senior members gives you access to those senior members’ contacts and experience, which can be invaluable.

You may get junior work as a result of personal relationships (in particular your former supervisor), or simply because you are the one who’s available when a junior is needed for a case.

In your first years, don’t be frightened of asking QCs or senior juniors what they are working on and if you can help. This will expose you to higher calibre and more complex work, and give you opportunities to junior in future. Also do not be afraid to ask questions and go to senior members if you have a difficult case. This can benefit you in three ways: by giving you support; by giving them an opportunity to see how you approach a case; and by giving you a chance to see how they would approach such a case.

In crime, especially in London, many junior briefs go to in-house Higher Court Advocates (HCAs). Noting briefs may give you a better chance of being exposed to more complex work. If you do find yourself on a noting brief don’t just be a secretary. Always be interested in the case and remember that you are representing a client, even if they are physically absent.

Do be willing to devil written work in your first few years. This can also be a gateway into junior work later on and will help you to develop your relationships with more senior members of Chambers.

Sarah Knight says:

“You may feel in awe of or intimidated by more senior members of Chambers. Having respect for them is a good thing. You will want to impress them to hopefully secure their vote when it comes to a tenancy application, but remember that they have busy practices and will be mostly focussed on themselves and their own caseload rather than you. If you are invited to a social activity it may be worth checking first with your supervisor that it would be deemed appropriate within Chambers. If in doubt, ask about it. Remember that you are not there to make friends per se. Friendships may evolve and will do naturally over time, but for the duration of your pupillage the process requires you to maintain a balance between generally fitting in within Chambers and doing well in your work. Don’t focus on one of these to the exclusion of the other.”