As we only offer pupillage to those who are thought capable of becoming tenants, we have a very strong record of taking on pupils as tenants. Over the past five years, almost 90% of our pupils have been offered tenancies. This reflects One Essex Court’s policy of active recruitment and expansion. There is no limit on the number of tenancies offered in any given year and all pupils who meet the standard will be offered tenancy.
Pupils are kept apprised of their progress throughout pupillage. Pupils meet with the head of the Pupillage Committee and senior clerk at the end of their first seat (usually, in early January) and again after six months (around Easter-time). Pupils can expect at these meetings to be given an indication as to whether they are ‘on track’ for tenancy. These meetings also provide an opportunity to reflect on progress made, and to consider where changes might be made.
The tenancy decision itself is taken by Chambers as a whole, usually in early July of each year. The decision-making process follows the following structure:
- Reports written by pupil supervisors and other members with whom pupils have worked are considered by the Tenancy Committee, which also hears from each pupil supervisor.
- The Tenancy Committee makes a recommendation to Chambers as to whether each pupil should be offered tenancy.
- Each pupil is informed of the recommendation as it affects them. They then have a choice whether to apply for tenancy, or not.
- For those pupils who seek tenancy, the final decision is taken by a vote of all members of Chambers after discussion.
Chambers makes every effort to ensure that those who are not offered a tenancy at One Essex Court find a tenancy elsewhere. Historically, almost every pupil who has not been offered a tenancy at One Essex Court (and who wishes to remain at the Bar) has been able to find a tenancy elsewhere, in many cases at other top commercial chambers.
Life as a junior tenant
Pupils often take cases from pupillage through to tenancy and retain the support of their pupil supervisors and mentors.
One of the most tangible changes from pupillage to tenancy is that every new tenant is given their own room, something which is not universal at the Bar.
New tenants also have the support of the excellent Clerks’ Room. ‘Team C’ supports the most junior end of Chambers and is specialised in helping new tenants build their practices and make the most of the opportunities on offer. Pupils begin to work with Team C during their second six, during which time the clerks actively seek out advocacy and other work for pupils to do in their own right. The clerks work hard to ensure equality of opportunities between pupils and tenants.
The range of work and variety of instructions available to junior tenants at One Essex Court, is one of the widest available at the Commercial Bar. Junior tenants also take advantage of a wide range of other opportunities. These include secondments (e.g. at the FCA), spending time in Singapore, acting as judicial assistants, taking on pro bono cases, appointment to Government panels, and getting involved in professional bodies (e.g. COMBAR, the Bar Council and the BSB).
Tenants have great flexibility in their working hours and preferences. As all members are self-employed, it is a matter for them to choose when, where and how they wish to work. One Essex Court supports flexible working and although we enjoy seeing each other around Chambers, many members choose to work from home some or most of the time.
Chambers also provides generous support for parental leave and sabbaticals. Our policy (which can be found here) provides support those who wish to take time off following the birth or adoption of a child and later to assist them in returning to work (including through interest-free loans). Many of our members have taken significant periods of time out of work to have children and have returned to successful practices with the assistance of their clerks.
As all members are self-employed, it impossible to give a particular figure for what junior tenants at One Essex Court can expect to earn. Earnings depend to a great extent on how hard members wish to work. However, barristers at One Essex Court can expect to earn comfortably in excess of their peers in comparable professions. As a guide, over the last three years, average first year income exceeded £250,000 and average second year earnings exceeded £300,000. New tenants are also offered an interest-free loan of up to £25,000 to assist with the transition from pupillage to tenancy.