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Information for 2021 applications


“At Serle Court we regard the recruitment and training of able pupils from all backgrounds as vital to maintaining our position as a leading Commercial & Chancery Set� Hugh Norbury QC, Pupillage Committee Chair

At Serle Court we regard the recruitment and training of able pupils as vital to maintaining our position as a leading Commercial & Chancery set. Our pupils are our tenants of the future, and we know our clients value our strength in depth at all levels in chambers, particularly when building teams for substantial cases. This leaflet includes information on what chambers looks for in our applicants, how to apply for pupillage, what we offer, and insights regarding pupillage and junior tenancy. If you have any further questions and would like to chat to someone here, we would be happy to help. You can find contact details for appropriate people on the last page. Hugh Norbury QC



Who are we Serle Court is one of the leading Commercial & Chancery sets, covering the whole range of ‘business’ law, from offshore litigation, company and insolvency law, civil fraud all embraced by our standing as a leading commercial litigation set. We are at the forefront of private client, trust and probate work and are instructed in the leading cases year on year. We are recognised as one of the top sets at the English Bar, with 69 barristers including 27 silks. Our Head of Chambers is Alan Boyle QC and he and all our barristers and staff are committed to providing exceptional service which is regularly recognised in the legal directories where Chambers is currently recommended in all its core

practice areas. Multiple members of chambers are recognised in each of its core areas and in additional specialist areas by both Chambers UK and Legal 500. Serle Court provides a wide range of services across the spectrum of Commercial & Chancery law, including civil fraud, commercial litigation, company, insolvency, international and offshore, partnership and LLP, private client trusts and probate, property, mediation and arbitration. We are acknowledged as “one of the very best commercial chancery sets, and one of the few that genuinely competes in both traditional chancery and commercial litigation” – Chambers UK

What we are looking for Chambers looks for highly motivated individuals with outstanding intellectual ability, combined with a practical approach, sound judgment and excellent oral and written communication skills. We are looking for candidates that have the potential to become successful advocates and a capacity to establish and maintain good relationships with solicitors, clients and the judiciary. Serle Court has a reputation for ‘outstandingly

Application and Selection Process clever, brilliant technicians’ (Legal 500) and seeks to continue this reputation through its pupils. Chambers generally requires a degree classification of a good 2:1 as a minimum. We aim to recruit three pupils each year with a view to offering as many tenancies. The pupillage award is £65,000 (of which up to £22,500 can be drawn down during the year prior to pupillage).

Equality & Diversity Serle Court is interested in well-rounded candidates from all backgrounds. Chambers is committed to equality and diversity and encourages and welcomes applications from candidates from groups which are underrepresented in the legal sector. Several members of chambers are actively involved in schemes to increase diversity at the Bar and our programme of corporate

social responsibility has a focus in this area. We also consider wellbeing to be at the centre of how we think and act in Chambers; it is not a separate subject, it is part of our ethos. For more information on our Equality and Diversity policy, please visit our website.

From those candidates interviewed in the first round, around 10 will be invited to a second interview. The second interview is also conducted by a panel of three members of chambers, this time with the Chief Executive observing. These interviews take the form of a mock client conference. Candidates will be given 40 minutes to consider a short Applications are assessed in a two-tier problem question and prepare to deliver process. Two first-tier reviewers acting advice in conference to members of independently of each other mark the chambers playing the role of clients/ applications by reference to defined criteria. The candidates with the highest solicitors. The interview itself will last around 30 minutes. aggregate scores are invited to the first round interview. The applications Serle Court may invite second round of any borderline candidates are candidates to spend a half day in assessed by a single second-tier chambers before communicating its reviewer (a senior junior or silk, acting independently of the first-tier reviewers); offers through the Pupillage Gateway. Candidates are not obliged to accept the second tier-reviewer has the this invitation, nor will they be assessed discretion to recommend that further formally if they do attend. The principal candidates are invited for interview. purpose of such half days is to This process typically leads to about enable candidates to gain a better 30 candidates being invited to a first interview conducted by a panel of three understanding of chambers ethos, practice and atmosphere. members of chambers. The interview usually lasts around 15 minutes. Applications for pupillage at Serle Court are made and processed through the Pupillage Gateway, in accordance with its prescribed timetable. Applicants are asked to answer a number of questions that are unique to Serle Court. All applications are anonymised.



Life as a pupil at Serle Court How pupillage is structured As a pupil at Serle Court, you sit with four supervisors, each for a period of three months, and a real effort is made to have supervisors from each of Serle Court’s practice areas, including general commercial litigation, civil fraud, traditional chancery and domestic trusts. One of the best aspects of Serle Court is its breadth of practise areas, but that was also very challenging – one day I would be focused on a freezing order in a commercial case, and the next I would be researching law from an offshore jurisdiction for a trusts case. As well as doing work for your supervisors, once you are settled in you can begin to do work for other members of chambers, which is a good way of getting to know them and of experiencing more specialist practise areas. However, your supervisor tends to act as a gatekeeper, which stops you from feeling overworked.

Pupillage hours are genuinely 9am – 6pm at Serle Court; although I sometimes chose to stay later, that was, and felt, entirely voluntary.

The type of work you do as a pupil I was very fortunate to experience three trials as a pupil at Serle Court, all concerning very different areas of law: one was a six week Chancery Division trial concerning breach of directors’ duties with multiple defendants

(which meant that my supervisor, and I, ended up working closely with barristers from other sets who were representing those defendants). Another was a fraud trial being run in parallel to a criminal investigation into the same defendant, and the last was about knowledge and approval of a will, in which one of the central factual issues was whether the testator could speak English. I really enjoyed assisting with drafting submissions and crossexamination notes. Experiencing trials meant that I was mainly focused on “live” work, but that was also a general feature of pupillage. Working on live files meant I was able to compare my final product with my supervisor’s, and get a good sense of how long they took to complete the same piece of work. The only time I worked on “dead” files was in my last few weeks of pupillage, where my supervisor checked whether there was anything I hadn’t done, and got me to practise drafting particular types of documents. One of the documents was a settlement agreement, and

I was very relieved I had done that when I found myself drafting one late at night in a mediation a couple of months into tenancy.

Atmosphere While pupillage at Serle Court is demanding, members genuinely try to make it as stress-free as possible. Pupils are not in competition with each other; my two co-pupils both got taken on alongside me, and we are good friends. Assessment of pupils is less formal than at other sets; in my pupillage there was one formal advocacy exercise and one written pupil exercise that all the pupils did (neither of which was treated as a competition!), but otherwise the focus is on supervisor feedback. Members of chambers were very welcoming to us, and we were invited to all chambers events.

Stephanie Thompson Pupil 2017–18



Life as a junior tenant at Serle Court: challenging, exciting and everyday is different The move from pupillage to tenancy can seem daunting at first, but Serle Court ensures a smooth transition. Our clerks and support team are on hand to guide you through your first months of tenancy and advise you on developing your relationships in and out of Chambers. Serle Court also offers a generous cash flow scheme and one year’s free rent, which mean you can really focus on building your practice. At a commercial chancery set like Serle Court, every day really is different: one day it might be working in Chambers on some witness evidence or a skeleton argument for your leader, the next you could be on your feet making an application in the High Court. You quickly adapt to the variety and the need for flexibility when managing your different cases.

Following pupillage, I spent six months on secondment in the private client department of a leading City law firm. Although such secondments are very common for our tenants and Chambers is often able to find a placement tailored to a tenant’s interests, there is no pressure to take one up. Personally, I found the opportunity to see how a solicitors’ firm operates and to build up personal relationships with senior and junior lawyers an invaluable experience. Plus, I came back to Chambers with a few sets of instructions!

Since returning to Chambers, my work really has covered the full range of Chambers’ expertise. At the traditional end of Chancery practice, for example, I have advised the beneficiary of a multi-million-dollar estate with complex cross-border tax issues, and offshore trustees managing assets in the billions of dollars. The advantage of traditional Chancery work is that it tends to lend itself to unled instructions, whether giving advice on paper or making applications in the County Court, and I have worked on smaller probate and property disputes. My commercial work has been equally varied, covering company law, insolvency, civil fraud and general contractual disputes, and I have my first unled four-day commercial trial in the near future. I have also recently been working with a team from Chambers on one of the biggest environmental claims to be brought in England arising out of mining activity in South America, which has involved complex choice of law and jurisdiction questions. A real benefit of practising as a junior tenant at Serle Court is the opportunity to work alongside and learn from experienced

leaders on some of the largest pieces of litigation being conducted in this jurisdiction and offshore. All junior tenants benefit from the supportive and collegiate environment that Chambers offers. Whether it is knotty question of procedure or getting a handle on a new area of law, other members of Chambers are always on hand to offer advice and point you in the right direction. Beyond that Chambers makes an effort to get junior members involved in marketing, including attending and speaking at international conferences, and other members are generous in introducing you to their solicitor clients. Life as a junior tenant at Serle Court is demanding and high-pressure but it is interesting and rewarding in equal measure. Every day I am challenged and that is what I signed up for at the commercial chancery Bar.

Gregor Hogan Tenant since 2017



What to expect during pupillage Each pupil will spend a 12-month period shadowing four members of chambers, which enables pupils to be exposed to a range of practice areas. By shadowing members of chambers, rather than taking on work in their name, each pupil is as well-qualified and confident as possible before starting practice. During the year, pupils do not get the opportunity to practise advocacy in court, however, we ensure that advocacy exercises, conducted in front of a senior member of chambers,

and other assessments designed to improve practical skills, take place. Supervisors provide frequent and relevant feedback and monitor pupils’ progress to ensure that the work they are given fulfils their training needs. We strive to make pupils feel a part of chambers from the time that they accept their offers of pupillage. They are invited to chambers events, both formal and informal, and are encouraged to get to know both members and staff.

Tenancy at Serle Court Serle Court strives to live up to our reputation as a ‘definite go-to chambers’ (Chambers UK), however we also believe it is important to have a balanced life. Tenants can choose their own working hours and strategic approach to their practice, and will work alongside the clerks to achieve this. Our clerks are highly recommended in the legal directories, with clients stating, ‘it’s an absolute breeze to instruct them – the clerks are really responsive and good, very available and respond quickly’ (Chambers UK).

Our clerks adopt a flexible and sensitive approach working with our barristers to assist them in building the practice they desire. 19 out of the last 22 pupils are now tenants. New tenants at Serle Court pay no rent for their first year of practice, and no chambers expenses until their earnings exceed £50,000 per annum. We provide an income guarantee worth up to £120,000 over the first two years of practice.



Mini-Pupillage Mini-pupillage at Serle Court is designed to be an enjoyable and useful experience. Our mini-pupils experience various aspects of life as a practising barrister and gain first hand experience of our informal and friendly atmosphere. Mini-pupillages last for one day and are not assessed or funded, however we do encourage prospective pupils to undertake a mini-pupillage with us prior to their application. We offer 30 mini-pupillages each year to individuals who have completed the first year of a law degree or at least

one term of the GDL or equivalent. These are available all year, but please note, they are heavily oversubscribed. Therefore, we encourage prospective pupils to apply as early in the academic year as possible. Applications for mini-pupillage should be made on a Serle Court application form and addressed to Lyric McDonald. Applications can be submitted via email to pupillage@serlecourt.co.uk, or via post to 6 New Square, Lincolns Inn, London, WC2A 3QS.

Facilities Support Chambers is located in one of the finest buildings in Lincoln’s Inn. It is a spacious 17th century premises which has undergone extensive refurbishment which enables us to provide excellent facilities for members, clients and staff. Our staffing team is led by Chief Executive John Petrie and Head Clerk Steve Whitaker. Our clerking team is made up of 8 clerks, a post room team and fees clerk, all of whom are consistently recognised for providing

a ‘good service and making things happen’ (Chambers UK). Working alongside the clerks, we have a business development team of 3, a finance department and a general administrative support team. We have access to all the best online research facilities and all of our IT platforms are accessible remotely, enabling members to work from home, or indeed any location around the world.

Your personal data & GDPR Serle Court holds and processes a wide range of data, some of which relates to the individuals who are applying for pupillage. All of the information that we contain has been provided by you on your application, for example, your contact details. Your details are anonymised during the application process to all members of chambers; however, the pupillage administrator will have access to the

non-anonymised records during the interview process. For those applicants that reach first round interviews, your application details cease to be anonymised. All applications that are not successful are destroyed at the end of the calendar year.



List of all members of chambers Queens Counsel

Junior +10 Years

Juniors –10 Years

Alan Boyle QC

Julian Burling

Sophie Holcombe

Patrick Talbot QC

Andrew Francis

Adil Mohamedbhai

Kuldip Singh QC

William Henderson

Jonathan McDonagh

Frank Hinks QC

James Behrens

Emma Hargreaves

Elizabeth Jones QC

Richard Walford

Zahler Bryan

Paul Chaisty QC

Nicholas Harrison

Amy Proferes

Dominic Dowley QC

Kathryn Purkis

Prof Suzanne Rab

Conor Quigley QC

Andrew Bruce

Adrian de Froment

Philip Marshall QC

David Drake

Oliver Jones

Philip Jones QC

Justin Higgo

Stephanie Wickenden

Lance Ashworth QC

Timothy Collingwood

Sophia Hurst

Khawar Qureshi QC

Giles Richardson

Eleni Dinenis

David Casement QC

Thomas Braithwaite

Charlotte Beynon

Christopher Stoner QC

Simon Hattan

Gregor Hogan

Michael Edenborough QC

James Brightwell

Mark Wraith

John Machell QC

Jennifer Haywood

Stephanie Thompson

Hugh Norbury QC

Ruth Jordan

Jamie Randall

David Blayney QC

Jonathan Fowles

Jonathan Adkin QC

Matthew Morrison

Rupert Reed QC

James Mather

Zoe O’Sullivan QC

Dan McCourt Fritz

Andrew Moran QC

Gareth Tilley

Daniel Lightman QC

James Weale

Richard Wilson QC

Paul Adams

Prof Jonathan Harris QC

Thomas Elias

Dakis Hagen QC Constance McDonnell QC

Further Information Pupillage Secretary Dan McCourt Fritz Mini-Pupillage Secretary Paul Adams

For further information regarding pupillage or mini-pupillage, please contact us at pupillage@serlecourt.co.uk

Pupillage Administrator Lyric McDonald 14

6 New Square Lincoln’s Inn London WC2A 3QS T: +44 (0)20 7242 6105 F: +44 (0)20 7405 4004 @Serle_Court www.serlecourt.co.uk

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Pupillage Newsletter 2020  

Pupillage Newsletter 2020