Client Service at the Bar
The following sets are particularly commended for their provision of quality client service.
Three New Square
Three New Square is described as “the most polished and professional set at the IP Bar” by one interviewee, who goes on to praise the clerking team as “very reliable and professional.” Other solicitors report that “the clerking service across the board is fantastic,” adding that “the clerks are all incredibly user-friendly and offer good support on a case.” The set’s “incredibly trustworthy” senior clerk Nick Hill draws considerable accolades from several of the set’s clients who report that he is “a proactive and modern clerk who is always thinking about what’s coming next” and draw attention to his “impeccable client care skills.” Sources further add: “Hill’s client service is top drawer, and closed-door wheeling and dealing and false Chinese walls have no role at his set, which is incredibly refreshing.” Hill’s forward-thinking approach is further lauded by solicitors who describe him as “a role model for clerks within their own professional body” and note that “he is a standout among clerks and a great proponent of diversity at the Bar.” Hill is ably supported by a strong team of clerks, including the “very helpful” Tim Fairburn and David Court. One leading solicitor hails the team as “approachable, available and so easy to deal with,” adding that “they’re all efficient with their responses and nothing ever seems like too much trouble.”
2 Temple Gardens
The clerking team at 2 Temple Gardens “provides an excellent service,” according to impressed interviewees, who report that the set’s client service is “efficient and personable.” Senior clerk Lee Tyler is described by instructing solicitors as “wonderful” and “very responsive,” while joint first junior clerks Matthew Moylan, Leanne Taylor and Billy Hammonds are also singled out for praise. Hammonds is hailed as “the most helpful clerk I’ve ever come across” by one impressed source, while another notes that “Matt and Leanne manage the barristers’ work with enormous efficiency and work extremely hard to make sure that expectations are met. They work collaboratively with their professional clients to set the expectations very high.” Interviewees particularly appreciate the team’s in-depth knowledge of practice areas and the strengths of individual barristers, with several solicitors praising the team’s ability to “identify a good fit for the case,” and noting that “you can always rely on their recommendations for counsel.” The client-focused attitude of the clerking team is also regularly mentioned by solicitors, who praise the team as “very attentive,” and report that “the clerks are all very in tune with the needs of their clients – you can tell that they really care.” Sources further add: “The clerks are all so helpful and just get the job done, which is what keeps you going back.” The team’s impeccable client service is supported by the set’s provision of a highly praised seminar programme. One interviewee notes that “the seminars are always on point, and you come away knowing that you’ve learned something that’s really relevant to the work you do in the office.”
5 Stone Buildings
“The clerking at 5 Stone Buildings is brilliant – there’s nothing they’re not willing to do for you,” according to instructing solicitors. The senior clerk, Paul Jennings, is lauded by interviewees as “a really experienced clerk who just knows everyone at the set. You can explain the instruction to him and he’s always able to explain who the best person in chambers would be to take it on and what the timelines are likely to be.” Several other solicitors also draw attention to the team’s extensive knowledge of the set’s barristers and their individual areas of expertise, noting that “you can always trust the clerks and their recommendations,” and adding that “the team is very helpful in matching us with a barrister if our first choice is unavailable.” First junior clerk Dan Coote is also singled out for praise by several instructing solicitors. One describes him as “an experienced clerk who is always very helpful and responsive,” while another notes that he is “very easy to deal with and discuss fees with.” Client service is clearly at the forefront of the minds of the whole clerking team, and solicitors particularly appreciate that the team is approachable and accessible from the very first phone call right up until the close of a matter. “The clerks are always available,” reports one impressed interviewee, while another notes that “they’re very easy to communicate with and know exactly what is needed and when.” Other interviewees praise the clerks as “very friendly and always easy to deal with,” adding: “I expected a high standard of service from them, and that is exactly what I got.”
9 Gough Square
“The clerking at 9 Gough Square is second to none,” according to instructing solicitors, who note that “it offers everything a claimant solicitor could hope for in a set and it’s a supremely slick operation.” The director of clerking and business development Michael Goodridge is consistently singled out for praise by interviewees, who describe him as “a very personable and generous character” and note that “his acumen and understanding of the needs of instructing solicitors ensures that the set remains at the very top of the food chain.” The set’s “fantastic” executive and civil mediation clerk Ellie Brand is also praised for her “lovely and professional manner,” while Jaime Brooks, the set’s senior family and court of protection clerk, is described as “an exceptional clerk who is always on hand to assist.” Brooks’ knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of individual barristers and his ability to match the right counsel with cases is also appreciated by instructing solicitors, who note that “he always knows what you’re talking about whenever you call and he knows his team very well so he’s able to suggest certain barristers who would be able to provide a good academic view or be very direct in court.” Sources are also keen to highlight that the outstanding client service delivered at 9 Gough Square does not stop with the clerking team. One impressed solicitor noted that “excellent client service is provided all round, from the clerks, juniors and silks,” while others describe the set as “very solicitor friendly,” adding that “the barristers really understand the need for a collaborative and friendly approach.” Another solicitor said: “The client care I have received from the set is excellent – I haven’t come across a single person who isn’t exceptionally good with clients and able to put people at ease and explain complex matters in simple language without talking down to anyone.”
6KBW College Hill
6KBW College Hill has an outstanding reputation at the Criminal Bar and is consistently praised by instructing solicitors both for the “high-quality criminal advocacy and advice” provided by its advocates and the “outstanding” client service provided by the clerking team. Sources report that “the quality of the set’s clerking team is as high as the quality of its barristers,” and note that “6KBW prides itself on excellent quality work, but they will still always go that extra mile to look after their clients.” The team is headed by senior clerk Andrew Barnes, while the “very helpful” Mark Essex serves as deputy senior clerk. One solicitor notes that “Barnes and Essex are like magicians – they’re so fast and don’t cause delays, which is exactly what you need when dealing with high-profile clients,” while Barnes is singled out for praise by several interviewees who describe him as “a pleasure to work with” and “very responsive.” First junior clerk Richard Summerscales is also extremely popular among instructing solicitors who hail him as “the ubermaster of the clerking world.” Interviewees go on to add: “He is extremely cool headed in any situation and has an unparalleled ability to make the impossible possible. His levels of client service are outstanding, and he is able to provide carefully thought out recommendations for counsel who are ideal for any given case.” In addition to praising the clerking team’s extensive knowledge of counsel and practice areas, solicitors are also quick to highlight the team’s client-focused approach, noting that the team is “extremely personable and responsive,” and that “the clerks will always go out of their way to ensure the clients are well-represented.”
“Absolutely fabulous” 11KBW attracts a wealth of praise for its outstanding expertise in a wide range of public law issues, but it is “the quality of the clerks that really makes a difference,” according to its loyal clients. The senior clerks, Lucy Barbet and Mark Dann, are described as a “delight to deal with.” Mark Dann receives further accolades from instructing solicitors: One describes him as “the best out there,” and as another attests: “I really can’t fault him.” Interviewees are also quick to praise the range of conferences laid on by the set – its Annual Education Conference is particularly recommended for delegates from schools and higher education institutions. Fees are all too often a hot topic among instructing solicitors and lay clients, and luckily the clerks at 11KBW are “extremely good on discussing fees and billing” and “very good at keeping you updated on costs.” The clerking team continues to offer excellent recommendations to clients, with sources saying that the clerks “always put the right person forward” and are “always keen to find someone who suits us.” The clerks’ outstanding level of knowledge leads one solicitor to say: “I'm happier to take their recommendations on people I haven’t used before than I am at other sets.”
Senior clerk Stephen Smith and deputy senior clerk Michael Kilbey “run a tight ship” in the clerksroom at Hailsham Chambers. Both are noted for their extensive experience, possessing over 80 years of clerking at Hailsham Chambers between them. In fact, every aspect of the service at Hailsham is praised, with receptionist Kaz O’Callaghan noted for her client care skills, first junior clerk Stuart Paley described as “exceptional,” and the entire team described as “an absolute delight” to work with. One instructing solicitor appreciates that the Hailsham clerks “always look for ways to strengthen the relationship,” citing training days and other events as particularly popular. “I don't believe I have ever had a single issue with Hailsham's consistently excellent clerking and front of house team,” says another impressed client. The team’s approach to billing is also applauded: “They get back to you with estimates very quickly,” says one source, while another adds: “The fee estimates are spot on and they give a proper price for the job.” With time at a premium throughout the legal profession, solicitors are quick to point out that the clerks and support team at Hailsham are “always responsive.” Finally, the “warm and welcoming” attitude of the team really makes a difference for clients attending meetings in chambers.
The “stars” of the Littleton clerksroom work together to form “one of the best clerking teams in the business.” Instructing solicitors appreciate that the team is “unobtrusive but first class,” allowing matters to progress “very smoothly,” and frequently remark upon the set’s sensible approach to pricing and cost estimates. The team is praised for its intimate knowledge of the barristers’ clients – solicitors confide that they are often identified by their voice alone. “I only need to say hello and they know it’s me,” says a source, while another adds: “They always go out of their way to remember your name.” Senior clerk Jason Drakeford is singled out for the fact that he “knows his barristers, knows the cases and knows the solicitors as well,” but individuals at all levels of the clerking team also attract praise. Sources appreciate that deputy senior clerk Dan Woodbridge “comes back to you the same day” and that Philip Salisbury, the team leader at Littleton, is a “pleasure to deal with.” Andrew Sargeant, one of six team leader’s assistants, is also “very responsive and easy to work with.” Meanwhile, Scott Hersey and Ian Smethurst, both team leader’s assistants, are “affable, friendly, responsive” and “super practical” respectively. Members of the team are also known for the ease with which they match barristers to new cases and the fact that “they are really good at pinpointing who’s the best, both on experience and cost bases, for each matter.” Finally, the set’s thought leadership and analysis provided via events and articles make it a “go-to for resources and knowledge.”
1GC Family Law
Following its recent move to stylish new premises in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 1GC continues to impress at the Family Bar with its modern, client-centric approach to practice management. “The set has really upped its game,” says one solicitor, “and is now a class act: the team have spotted what solicitors are after and offer a very professional setup without compromising on being a friendly set full of people who are nice to deal with.” At the helm is the “excellent” Paul Harris, an experienced senior clerk but also a man who is said to bring a “young, innovative” and “modernising” ethos to chambers. Sources say: “Paul really does go out of his way to try to accommodate us and ensure we’re happy with the service we’re getting.” 1GC has also welcomed Marie-Christine Willis to the set as Chambers Director. Together they lead a team whom solicitors find to be “fun, friendly and attentive” and “utterly professional,” and who are noted to be “particularly helpful with last minute, urgent matters.” Clients tell us that the clerks “work very hard to build personal relationships with instructing solicitors,” and are “efficient” and “always know what they’re talking about.” First junior David McDonald deserves special mention as a “brilliant” clerk who “always provides a high-class service,” whilst interviewees feel that the set’s new offices are “amazing” and “absolutely enhance the first impression of chambers, and provide excellent conference facilities.”
The “outstanding client service” offered by Farrar’s Building “has gone from strength to strength,” according to instructing solicitors. Clients can rely on counsel recommendations from the “very experienced” Alan Kilbey, which are “always spot on, because he quickly understands what the case involves.” A “terrific and delightful” chief executive, Alan is reported to “run a very tight ship.” The clerksroom receives “top marks” from instructing solicitors, who place it “head and shoulders above other sets,” adding that “the chambers is efficient and pragmatic without cutting corners, and turns things around quickly.” Impressed interviewees remark that “the clerks are approachable, accommodating and give excellent advice,” and that “they will go out of their way to accommodate you, particularly when something is urgent.” The clerking is further described as “swift, efficient and always courteous.” “They have never let me down,” says one repeat instructor, while another attests: “I do have to use other chambers from time to time but I always return to Farrar’s because the service I get there is excellent.”
The clerks at Radcliffe Chambers “go above and beyond” when dealing with instructing solicitors. “Nothing is too much trouble” for those in the clerks’ room, and their experience and efficiency “make the life of a solicitor easier.” One interviewee told us that the clerks at Radcliffe are “always on the same page as the solicitor.” Interviewees commend the way in which the clerks can provide “realistic steers” on fees and offer “value for money” on a range of instructions. Joint senior clerks Keith Nagle and John Clark are both appreciated by clients and remain “first ports of call” for instructing solicitors. Lee Wright, the set’s deputy senior clerk, “stands out” to several solicitors. “Lee looks after us,” says one interviewee, continuing: “He’s fair on fees, tries to help us out and is very responsive.” The practice managers, Nathan Ellingham and the “fantastic” Justin Allen, work with the senior clerks to provide an exemplary service. The clerking team builds and maintains strong relationships with solicitors, who appreciate not only the accessibility of the clerks, but also that they “regularly chat about plans” and “do a good job catching up” with those both in and outside of London. Sources also recommended the set’s training courses and social events.
Crown Office Chambers
Instructing solicitors praise Crown Office Chambers as “a very friendly, helpful and down to earth set,” with praise being doled out in equal measure to both its strong bench of “friendly, client focused and commercially aware barristers,” and its “very efficient clerking service.” The clerking team is led by senior managing clerk Andy Flanagan, who is “extremely commercial and always keen to find new ways to get juniors working together,” according to our interviewees. The “very impressive” senior criminal regulatory and environmental clerk Toby Sparrow is also highly regarded by solicitors, while Chris Sunderland, the set’s senior commercial, construction and energy clerk is lauded by interviewees for his responsiveness: “Chris always gets back to you, even when he’s on holiday, which is key for us as the reason for calling will always be important.” Solicitors consistently draw attention to the team’s “helpful and flexible” attitude toward client service, noting that “the clerks are first rate in terms of interaction and responsiveness” and “nothing is ever too much trouble for them.” “Crown Office Chambers has an excellent reputation for good reason,” according to one instructing solicitor, who goes on to add: “The clerks are all very responsive, proactive and will bend over backwards to accommodate requests.” The team’s ability to recommend counsel is also regularly mentioned by instructing solicitors when discussing the strengths of the set: “They know my preferred choices of barristers and those of my client, so they tailor their suggestions when my first choice is unavailable.” Another interviewee reported that “the clerks are always spot on with their counsel recommendations, so I really trust their judgement.” The client-focused attitude of the set is further demonstrated through its provision of several highly rated seminars, which are praised by interviewees as “well put together and always of actual practical use.”