Exchange Chambers launches pupillage academy

April 15, 2019

Exchange Chambers is to launch a pupillage academy with one of the largest ever annual intakes of pupils by a barristers’ Chambers.

The Northern powerhouse, based in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, will take on 6 pupils in September 2020 covering crime, commercial and common law.  In recent years, Exchange Chambers has recruited 3 pupils every year.

Bill Braithwaite QC, Head of Exchange Chambers, said the Set was committed to breaking new ground and increasing access to the Bar for aspiring barristers.

He commented:

“The launch of a pupillage academy – in effect, a national centre of excellence for aspiring barristers – marks our commitment to the future of Chambers and our confidence in the future of the Bar. While our pupillage academy represents a significant upfront investment, it is an investment in the future of Chambers.

“The object is to encourage students at school and university, mentor those who are keen, help with the application process, provide a first-class pupillage and mentor new tenants for the first three years of tenancy.”

Tom Handley, Chief Executive at Exchange Chambers said:

“We are a multi-disciplinary Set with an abundance of high-quality work at all levels, wide geographical coverage and outstanding barristers.  Everything is in place to bring on the next generation of talent.

“Chambers’ strength in depth means that pupils will work with barristers who are leaders in their field.  During their second six they will be in court virtually every day with the opportunity to generate significant income, build their practice and develop their advocacy skills.  There couldn’t be a better environment in which to hone their skills and develop an outstanding career at the Bar.”

Between now and September 2020, Exchange Chambers will operate a bespoke mentoring scheme for its new pupils. Six barristers – Carly Sandbach (call 2006), John Waiting (call 2010), Sarah Griffin (call 2011), Alex Williams (call 2014), Harriet Hartshorn (call 2016), and Alexandra Sutton (call 2017) – will all act as mentors to the newcomers.

In recent years, a number of high-quality practitioners, at all levels of call, have joined Exchange Chambers.

The size and resources of Exchange Chambers – which has nearly 200 barristers – is one of its standout features.

As one of the largest and most well-resourced sets in England and Wales, Exchange Chambers is regularly instructed on major national cases.  An Exchange QC recently secured the acquittal of England cricketer Ben Stokes, while other recent work includes securing a multi-million-pound settlement for a Navy helicopter pilot with brain injuries, and representing the Fire Officers’ Association at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Chambers also provides a level of on-the-job advocacy training that is only possible outside London. At the regional bar, pupils will be in court more frequently than in the capital, and can expect to be on their feet almost every day in their second six.

Commenting on the launch of Exchange Chambers’ pupillage academy, barrister David Williams, who was called to the bar in 2014, said:

“I believe the Bar has been crying out for an initiative like this.

“One of the things that appealed to me about Exchange Chambers is that you are doing more of your own work and more senior work quite quickly. You’re not always sitting behind a senior barrister or doing the running behind the scenes. On the first day of my second six I was handling my own case – and earning fees – which is quite rare. You get going quickly – and on quality work too.”

Added David:

“Exchange is a really big set with departments covering pretty much every area of law. Having strength in numbers is always a good thing, and the practical benefit is that there’s always someone in chambers who is a specialist in the area you’re working on, which means there’s always someone you can go to discuss the tricky points you haven’t come across before.  I can’t think of a better pupillage experience.”

Exchange Chambers’ position as one of the country’s leading barristers’ chambers was further recognised at the 2019 Legal Cheek Awards, which took place last month.

The Set won the “Best Chambers for Facilities” award as well as being shortlisted in the “Chambers of the Year” and “Best Chambers for Colleague Supportiveness” categories.  Exchange was also praised for being a “highly-regarded, multi-disciplinary super-set” providing a vast pool of experience on which a new barrister can draw.