The Bar's iron fists in silk's gloves

Solicitor acclaim for barristers is often a hard-won commodity. But London's employment Bar contains a rich seam of talent that comes highly recommended.

The London employment Bar is rich with talent. Barristers are praised by solicitors for providing "an excellent service" and being "good to work with", while chambers are congratulated for having a pick of barristers who are specialists within specialist areas. Such praise is hard won and often grudgingly given in our specialist Bar features.

Many solicitors prefer to do their own employment work, but when they do need specialist counsel they find barristers of a very high calibre. This list of barristers is not exhaustive, but is based on the recommendations of leading employment practitioners.

At the top of the pile is 11 King's Bench Walk and many solicitors use the set almost exclusively. One practitioner commented: "I cannot think of any safer hands to be in." Leading silk is Patrick Elias QC, who has too many accolades to mention (see focus, page 10).

Elizabeth Slade QC is "excellent at appellate level" having been used for some major Tupe cases. She is praised for her "approachability" and "clearly worded opinions". Christopher Jeans QC is "absolutely reliable", "client friendly" and "very persuasive in court". Alistair McGregor QC only took silk in 1997 but already has a great reputation. Having used him for a restraint matter, one solicitor remarked: "I was as impressed as I had anticipated I would be." Set heads Eldred Tabachnik QC and James Goudie QC both come highly rated, as does Michael Supperstone QC for giving "great confidence to the client".

Littleton Chambers is a very well regarded set. Head of chambers Michael Burton QC is "tremendous on his feet", especially for "more aggressive advocacy such as injunction proceedings". He is also very "charismatic" and "approachable". John Bowers QC is a new silk "living up to his reputation". Acclaimed as the "best on paperwork", he has an "extremely good grasp on current employment law developments". Andrew Clarke QC is another rated silk, "soon to be challenging the older generation", with Clive Freedman QC and Daniel Serota QC also winning praise.

Old Square Chambers is another big hitter with senior clerk John Taylor earning a special mention for a client-focused service. Of the silks Jeremy McMullen QC is very good on Tupe-related matters, impressing with his "ability to quickly get hold of the facts and pragmatic opinion". John Hand QC and John Hendy QC are rated, as is Ian Truscott QC who is based in Edinburgh and has done some "impressive Scottish employment tribunal work".

Head of Cloisters Laura Cox QC "remains at the forefront of cutting edge employment litigation", as does Brian Langstaff QC who also possesses "great client handling skills". Robin Allen QC, also at this set, is "user-friendly".

Other leading chambers include Devereux Chambers, where set head Jeffrey Burke QC is very highly rated, as is Alan Pardoe QC and 1997 silk David Bean QC, recommended for "very technical things" and praised for his "thoroughness" and "intelligence". Essex Court chambers has a "tenacious advocate" in Andrew Hochhauser QC, while for "European Convention stuff" Peter Duffy QC is liked.

Blackstone Chambers (formerly 2 Hare Court) has a couple of notables at silk level in David Pannick QC, "particularly in a discrimination context", and Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC.

At Peter Scott QC's Fountain Court, Nicholas Stadlen QC is rated for injunctions because he can be an "aggressive advocate" who "gets stuck in". The "user-friendly" Nicholas Underhill QC is also highly rated at this set.

4-5 Gray's Inn Square has the high-profile Cherie Booth QC and Michael Beloff QC, while at John Mathews QC's 5 Paper Buildings Simon Mehigan QC, a 1998 silk, is "great on restrictive covenants". Kuldip Singh QC also wins praise.