First-rate seniors are very much in demand but they have their price. Leo Schulz discovers who the first-rate juniors are. Given the specialisation of solicitors and the emphasis on in-depth expertise in the use of counsel, the popularity of juniors (and, in some cases, barristers who are very junior) at the bar is somewhat surprising.
There is, of course, a tendency not to bother mentioning the obvious names, with the result that several of the best juniors are put forward as often or even more often than the customary heavyweights. Anyone can roll out leading silks Patrick Elias QC and Eldred Tabachnik QC. It is much more fun to try your hand at talent-spotting, at identifying the potential of someone fresh and new.
But there is more to it than that. Those at the very top are, by definition, in great demand and there is an element of doubt, frequently expressed in the survey, that you may get their full fees but not their full attention.
Also, there is a bell-curve effect. At the beginning people are more than willing to pay more if they feel they will get more, and the curve rises steeply. But at a certain point it becomes increasingly difficult to add real value, and the curve levels off.
Finally, among the great names, there is a perception that you are paying more for reputation than results. A resistance then sets in and the curve falls away as rapidly as it rose.
A lot of the QCs are overrated, comments one solicitor, possibly stung with a bill that was out of proportion to the efforts and achievements of the counsel who presented it. It is at this point that the best of the juniors have their opportunity.
Those mentioned ahead of several of the best-known silks include 2 Hare Court's Paul Goulding, the vice-chairman of the Employment Lawyers Association, who is described as “a workaholic and very good at all levels”.
Sean Jones at 11 King's Bench Walk is really good with clients and has a brilliant mind, while John Bowers at Littleton Chambers has a lot of talent and is good with knotty problems.
A junior who should also be included here is Thomas Linden at 4-5 Gray's Inn Square.
In the next rank, although often supported with equal enthusiasm, are 2 Hare Court's Dinah Rose, who is “wonderful in discrimination cases”, and Monica Carss-Frisk, also recommended for her work on discrimination cases.
Jennifer Eady at Old Square Chambers is mentioned. At the same set Damian Brown is described as “nice and aggressive, combatant – I like my counsel to show the aggression which I think my case deserves”. Vivienne Gay at Cloisters is said to be “excellent; on the right case she is splendid”.
Jonathan Swift at 11 King's Bench Walk, although mentioned slightly less frequently, provoked real enthusiasm, and is described as “a brilliant advocate, superb on paper, just what you want, the archetypal team worker”. At the same set Nigel Porter and Essex Court Chamber's Claire Blanchard are said to be “commercially aware, willing to be part of a team”.
At 5 Bell Yard, Andrew Hillier, a senior junior who could take silk if he wanted to, is “well-known and widely respected, very good, tenacious”.
Selwyn Bloch at Littleton Chambers is also well thought of and “very thorough”, as are John Cavanagh at 11 King's Bench Walk, along with his colleagues Adrian Lynch, Dan Stilitz and Paul Nicholls.
Also at this level are Simon Devonshire at 5 Paper Buildings, Martin Griffiths and Vernon Flynn at Essex Court Chambers, Antony Sendall at Littleton Chambers, Martin Ward at 3 Temple Gardens and Gavin Millar at Doughty Street Chambers.
Among those mentioned as being on the first steps of stardom are Andrew Hochhauser's pupil Charles Ciumei at 1 Temple Gardens who is “very able and a good fighter”, Andrew Fraser-Urquhart at 4-5 Gray's Inn Square who is described as being “good, solid, relatively junior with a good future”, and Thomas Croxford and Pushpindar Saini at 2 Hare Court. Also at this level are Yvette Genn at 2 Garden Court, Ijeoma Omambala at 15 Old Square Chambers and Essex Court Chamber's Claire Blanchard, who is described as “commercially aware, willing to be part of a team and going to be very good”.