1 Chancery Lane regularly recruits probationary tenants from those talented individuals who have completed pupillage but have not secured tenancy elsewhere. Probationary tenancy was traditionally known as ‘third six pupillage’, but we now choose not to use that term, as it is not part of the training requirement for barristers and has less formal regulation.
A probationary tenancy typically lasts for six months, at the end of which, if there is thought to be sufficient work available at the lower end of chambers, you will be invited to apply for tenancy. Sometimes the probationary tenancy may be extended by agreement.
Our current system is that you will have two mentors over the six month period who will perform a role similar to that of pupil supervisor in providing you with help and guidance. In between doing your own work, you will be asked to do paperwork for your mentor and members of the Admissions Committee who will assess any application you make for tenancy.
We do not offer any financial award for a probationary tenant, who can expect to receive fee income from their work for us reasonably swiftly. However, you will not pay any chambers rent or clerks’ fees.
The Application Process
We are not currently recruiting Probationary Tenants. Details of the application process will be available here when we have vacancies. If you have any queries about probationary tenancy at 1 Chancery Lane, please send an e-mail to email@example.com
Work for Probationary Tenants
During probationary tenancy, you can expect to be given work of different kinds of the type performed by the junior tenants in chambers. This will include case management conferences, applications, trials on the small claims track and fast track (typically in the areas of road traffic accidents and personal injury, but also others). You will also be given paperwork, which will include fixed fee Advices (such as for infant approval hearings), conditional fee cases and possibly fixed fee work for the NHS.
While we cannot guarantee any particular amount of work being available, we do not recruit probationary tenants unless there is a reasonable amount of work available at the lower end which is not being carried out by our existing junior tenants.
Stories from our former Probationary Tenants
I joined 1 Chancery Lane as a probationary tenant in Autumn 2019, having completed a twelve month pupillage with the Government Legal Department. Because I was moving from the employed to the independent Bar, I had less experience on my feet than perhaps was typical for someone in my position, and I accordingly started my experience by shadowing various junior members of Chambers as they went about their daily diet of court work and conferences. Within a few short weeks, I was taking my own cases and earning in my own right.
Amidst my own busy court schedule, I was placed under the supervision and tutelage of Paul Stagg and worked with him on some of the higher value and specialist cases for which 1 Chancery Lane as a Chambers is renowned, including Local Authority ‘failure to remove’ cases, police law, and complex clinical negligence suits. Throughout the six-month period I was continually drafting research notes, opinions, counter-schedules, and statements of case for Paul for light-touch assessment and ongoing feedback.
I say ‘light touch’ not to downplay the importance of that work – to have the support of your supervisor is essential – but to distinguish it from the more formal assessments involved in the admissions process for securing a permanent tenancy, echoing that of pupils on the twelve-month path. Chambers requires you to do a substantive piece of written work for each of six members of the Admissions Committee (or AdCo). The written tasks are carefully curated to try and give as great a breadth as possible for demonstrating written advocacy ability, for instance drafting of Statements of Case, Opinions, Schedules/Counter-Schedules, Skeletons, Research Notes and so on, covering a broad spectrum of Chambers’ expertise. Time management is a critical part of any tenant’s skillset, and probationary tenants are expected to take their own initiative in approaching members of AdCo for assignments, to fit in amongst their demanding schedule both in court and working with their supervisor.
As far as assessment of oral advocacy is concerned, the clerks will seek little pieces of feedback from instructing solicitors to input into the final tenancy discussions.
It was a busy six months, but never felt gruelling. The support and encouragement I was given from members of Chambers, from the clerks and from Paul in particular meant that I never felt overwhelmed or isolated. It felt like an experience where others were willing you to succeed and not to fail. I had freedom to learn and get things wrong, and two years on I still draw heavily from my experiences in those first six months.
I came to 1 Chancery Lane after completing a 12-month pupillage at a commercial common law set of chambers. Immediately I was drawn into the absorbing and action-packed life of a probationary tenant in Chambers. The barristers and the clerks were friendly and made me feel welcomed. Laura Johnson was assigned as my pupil supervisor and soon set me to work; it was not long before I also had instructions to attend Court hearings and complete paperwork in my own right.
Much of the first few months was spent shadowing Laura, a busy senior junior with a diverse practice. One of the highlights was the chance to sit in on conferences with experts and clinicians in complex medical negligence cases, discussing and evaluating the evidence regarding, for example, an (alleged) failure to diagnose cancer, and the proper treatment of pancreatitis. This was an eye-opener into the legal and clinical reasoning at the heart of clinical negligence claims.
Written work for my supervisor was extremely varied and always engaging: pleadings, advices and research notes in core areas of Chambers’ practice including police law, sex abuse and medical negligence. I also completed written work for each of the (then seven) members of the Admissions Committee. This was, again, typical of the breadth of Chambers’ work. The subject matter included claims under the Highways Act, for negligence in the context of horse racing, and for misfeasance against local councillors. Without exception, members of Chambers took the time to give me timely and detailed feedback.
Last but not least, I attended Court in my own right. My first hearing was in my first week: a small claim credit hire trial in Reading! My diary became steadily busier, and the hearings more complex, over the six-month period, thanks to the clerks’ efforts. Reliable insurer clients ensured a constant flow of income. I was thrilled to be responsible for my own cases and to be able to build relationships with solicitors directly. By the conclusion of the six months, I had appeared in Court on more than 50 occasions, including a case management hearing in the High Court and multiple fast track trials.
My supervisor was a constant source of good advice and encouragement. I also felt supported by the close-knit team of junior barristers and by the clerks, all of whom welcomed me to Chambers and were always available for a chat. The tenancy decision, when it came around, was not a surprise, but was the outcome of a transparent decision-making process which was explained to me at the outset. Probationary tenancy at 1CL was an immensely positive experience, and I would recommend it to anyone wishing to pursue a career in Chambers’ core practice areas.
Hear more from our newest Tenants
Here you can hear more from Thomas and Susanna along with Ella Davis, plus our newest tenant Henk Soede.