Talent at the top of the junior Bar league

More and more of the solicitors who make recommendations for the stars at the Bar comment that they instruct silks and keep the work normally done by junior counsel for solicitor-advocates and in-house senior solicitors. so it is inevitable that the junior Bar is seeing the sense, commercially and legally, in specialising.

As one practitioner puts it, "good juniors are like gold dust. With the well-known silks in great demand, we are seeing less of the juniors, so the cupboard is gradually getting a bit bare."

Another commented that "given the trend for longer cases which tie up counsel, both senior and junior, for protracted periods, our exposure to barristers is sometimes more limited, but the other argument is that it gives us inside knowledge on how they deal with such cases".

Obviously the sets which are known for their expertise in this area are seen as the first stops for banking and finance sector juniors. As with the QCs, this list is based on the subjective recommendations of leading practitioners.

At 3 Verulam Buildings, the notable juniors include Ewan McQuater, who is said to be "in demand" and Andrew Sutcliffe, who "gets straight to the heart of matters". Also mentioned are Clive Freedman, Gregory Mitchell and the "very good" Andrew Onslow and David Waksman.

At the same set Jonathan Nash is described as "a good, level-headed banking barrister", and Caroline Lewis, Juliet May, David Wolfson, Adrian Beltrami are noted as "good all-rounders". Annie Hockaday, David Pope, John Odgers and Amanda Green also get favourable mentions.

At Brick Court Chambers, Charles Hollander, Stephen Ruttle, Andrew Popplewell, William Wood, Catharine Otton-Goulder all stand out as juniors who have "safe hands".

At 1 Essex Court Rhodri Davies and John McCaughran are rated "very highly", as is Laurence Rabinowitz, who is described as "obviously very good as a middle-ranking junior", and Jeffrey Gruder, Stephen Auld, Jeffery Onions and Anthony de Garr Robinson.

And at Fountain Court the senior juniors to be noted are Philip Brook Smith, and Simon Browne-Wilkinson. Other juniors mentioned at the chambers include Bankim Thanki, Craig Orr, Tom Keith, Marcus Smith, Stephen Moriarty and Tim Howe who have all impressed.

At Erskine Chambers, David Chivers is said to be "quite impressive" as is Michael Todd.

Robin Knowles at 3-4 South Square is described as a "highly effective junior, one to watch", and William Trower and Richard Hacker are also singled out for praise.

Stephen Hofmeyr at 7 King's Bench Walk is said to be "easy to work with, thorough and effective" and Christopher Butcher is also recommended as being "sound".

Further along, at 11 King's Bench Walk, Alistair McGregor is said to be "warming up well" and Philip Sales and Daniel Stilitz are also singled out for a favourable mention.

And Richard Millett at Essex Court Chambers is described as "very good and picks up a lot of work", and Richard Jacobs is also recommended.

Leading junior Anthony Trace at 13 Old Square is rated, and at 4 Stone Buildings, Jonathan Crow and Robert Miles are the juniors singled out for a mention.

At 39 Essex Street, Stuart Catchpole is recommended as a good banking and commercial junior, and further along at at 20 Essex Street, David Owen and Duncan Matthews are described as being "extremely able". Sam Aaron at 4-5 Gray's Inn Square also rates a mention.

Other "sound" juniors are James Eadie at One Hare Court, and at Thirteen Old Square, which is headed by Charles Sparrow QC, Frank Hinks, James Behrens, Elizabeth Jones, Philip Jones, Beverly-Ann Rogers, Philip Marshall and Bridget Lucas are all recommended for their impressive work.

At 1 Crown Office Row, headed by Mark Strachan QC, Michael Lazarus is named as a "particular favourite".

Leading senior junior at 2 Field Court is the chambers head Professor Norman Palmer who comes in for praise and Ashley Underwood is also said to be "excellent".

In the more specialised area of building societies law, Elizabeth Ovey and Malcolm Waters of 11 Old Square, which is headed by Timothy Lloyd QC, are described as being "recognised as leaders in building society law".

And in the financial services arena, Guy Philipps at Fountain Court is "thorough, tenacious and vigorous in cross-examination", while Paul Newman at Wilberforce Chambers is described as "very bright with immense potential (even if he is not as tall as his namesake!)".

In the area of aviation finance Andrew Lydiard at 5 Bell Yard is a name that "immediately springs to mind". Patrick Walker and Jonathan Klein at 39 Park Square, Leeds, are also mentioned.

on the road to silk

Taking silk may be a feather in the cap of the barrister concerned, and literally a longer wig, as well as a fillip for the chambers, but for the instructing solicitors it means larger fees and a fight to instruct the heavyweight silks – even the newer ones.

"One advantage with there being more silks," comments one partner, is that "with the increase in solicitor-advocates, there are more opportunities for our solicitors to take on that role of junior counsel, including drafting pleadings, affidavits and advice."

None of the practitioners who volunteered to suggest who may take silk this year professed to have any inside knowledge – one added that some senior juniors seem perfectly content to continue with that status.

With the caveat voiced by one partner that the silk appointments seem to be more of a lottery than the National Lottery, another partner commenting that he never gets it right, and a leading litigation partner saying that his tip is to remind all silks-to-be to post the application on time, here is our legal pundits' tips for 1997 silk in this area of practice.

Rhodri Davies at 1 Essex Court is seen as a potential candidate for silk, and Jeffrey Gruder is also in line, although he may have to wait until next year to gain QC status.

Another candidate tipped to take silk by a number of solicitors is Charles Hollander at Brick Court Chambers. They say it "would be justified", as would be Stephen Ruttle's elevation to silk.

At Fountain Court, Simon Browne-Wilkinson "might be a bet" and for Stephen Moriarty it is a case of "sooner or later" and for Guy Philipps perhaps later.

Alistair McGregor at 11 King's Bench Walk "may be up for consideration", and at Thirteen Old Square, Beverly-Ann Rogers, Frank Hinks and James Behrens may all be in "with a sporting chance".

Other tips are David Waksman at 3 Verulam Buildings, with the other possibles being Clive Freedman, Gregory Mitchell, Andrew Sutcliffe and Andrew Onslow if not this year then certainly in the next few years.

And at 20 Essex Street, David Owen is "extremely able, and will get silk if he applies". Michael Todd at Erskine Chambers is also considered a likely candidate to take the QC initials.

There is one final caveat: even if those tipped for QC do not make it this year, they probably will next year, possibly…