Christianah Babajide is in her first year of the LLB at City and holds the position of Secretary of the City University Law Society. Christianah also writes for LawCommonRoom, the blog she started with fellow LLB1 student Radha Baan. In this piece she reports back on her evening at Brick Court…
I was privileged to gain the invitation to an Open Day at Brick Court Chambers. The room was filled with numerous young students from different institutions. I was delighted to attend this Open Day because Brick Court is one of the leading sets of barrister’s chambers in the UK. Moreover, they specialise in Commercial, EU/Competition and Public Law, with a strong reputation in all areas.
Programme for the day:
He gave a detailed and well-informed talk about pursuing a career at the Bar. He mentioned how competitive gaining a pupillage is but also reassured us it was not as difficult to obtain one as we may think. He warned us not to be, “put off by bold statistics, and take a closer look at the figures in different fields. Looking at the students that practise at the bar can be depressing but it all depends on your perspective.”
His talk was followed by Martin Chamberlain QC who gave a short but relatively informative summary of life at the Bar. His theoretic definition of public law is as follows, “the law that governs the relationship between individuals and public bodies.” As a Junior, he was recognised as a ‘star individual’ for his area of expertise and has been instructed in some high profile Government Public law and Human rights litigation.
Keyln Bacon QC specialises in Competition and EU law, with particular expertise in State aid law and pharmaceutical regulation. Keyln, who was called to the Bar in 1998, is currently instructed in numerous competition and EU law disputes in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
Jemima Stratford QC who is widely recognised as a leading litigator in EU, competition and human rights, provided her personal perspective of being a working mother.
Lastly, the day was concluded with practising at the Bar from a clerk’s perspective who praised the ‘decent work ethic’ and how Brick Court is ‘choice on your terms.’
Built Like a Brick
A glance at Brick Court’s legal awards and accomplishments concludes the foundation of the top-tier chambers is as solid as a brick. Brick Court Chambers has ‘some of the most accomplished counsel in the UK’, and is ‘one of the first ports of call for difficult cases.’ In particular, it is a ‘top set for big-ticket commercial litigation and administrative law’, and maintains a prominent presence in EU law.
The current selections of barristers continue to be instructed on headline-grabbing cases. Members of the chambers often receive instructions from the City’s magic circle giants- Freshfields, Allen & Overy and Slaughter & May. Additionally, Mr Bools mentioned that even when pupils decide a career at the Bar is not for them, they still go on to work for prestigious city commercial firms like Slaughter & May.
A Blessing In Disguise…
Students hear through the grapevine that Barristers have to work on Christmas and conclude that, ‘practise at the bar is wholly incompatible to having a life.’ Many are quick to assume that becoming a Barrister will destroy your social life because you are required to work non-stop. As a Barrister, you are self-employed- this is a blessing in disguise. You are your own boss who can do whatever you want and this fact alone cannot be understated.
Unlike a Trainee Solicitor, you have a significant amount of control over how much of your life you devote to the Bar. It is simply untrue to assume a career at the Bar requires you to stay late nights because workload differs from areas of law to chambers to different individuals. It is not uncommon to hear of a Trainee staying behind into the night after office hours, especially if they are in a Corporate Seat. Mr Bools exclaimed; “If a career at the Bar prevents you from having a life, it is your fault.”
Furthermore, a career at the Bar allows you to see your children. Jemima Stratford QC and Helen Davies QC who are both mothers stated that maintaining a work/life balance at the Bar was possible because they are self-employed. Helen, who is the Joint Head of Brick Court, said the flexible working hours at the Commercial Bar allows her to see and spend time with her children. Legal 500 strengthen this point: Brick Court’s Clerks are ‘helpful, flexible and responsive’. Instead of forcing them to neglect their family life, the commercial bar encourages members to spend time with their loved ones, whenever they want. Jemima defined life at the Bar as, “a marathon, not a sprint” she advised pupils against burning themselves out by working ridiculous late hours. Both women made it clear that being a Barrister has not hindered them from being a nurturing mother, in any shape or form.
Jennifer MacLeod (Jennie) read law at Cambridge University and Harvard Law School. She is the most junior tenant of the chambers at Brick’s Court, she recalls on life as a pupil, “the work you are given is intellectually challenging and I often left the office exhausted.” Jennie admitted she put a lot of pressure on herself at that time. She has now done the big leap from a pupil to a Barrister and describes it as an amazing feeling. During her talk, she described numerous benefits of being a barrister and working for oneself with enthusiasm and a big smile.
Reflections on the day:
This Open Day provided me with an invaluable knowledge into life at Brick Court and offered me a golden opportunity to network with members on an informal level. The day provided a good introduction to life at the Bar and practising as a barrister in different areas of expertise. It has encouraged me to consider going down the Barrister route and If I would be interested in specialising in their three core areas.
If Brick Court sounds like the right fit for you and you wish to obtain a mini-pupillage with them, and then feel free to apply as they welcome applications from an early stage. Full details can be found at their website.