An oasis of junior talent

One of the problems noted by commercial litigators is the shortage of juniors at the commercial Bar. As one partner says: “It is worrying that we find a junior and use them regularly and then they take silk.”

This is true of a number of juniors who have been recommended by litigation solicitors. Among them is Michael Silverleaf QC of 11 South Square, who took silk this year and is rated as “responding reliably when advice is required. Clear and pragmatic.”

David Railton QC of Fountain Court Chambers is recommended as well and also took silk this year.

The “very good” Terence Mowschenson QC at One Essex Court and Catherine Newman QC at William Christie's set at 13 Old Square were elevated last year.

Ali Malek (now QC) is another new silk who has been recommended regularly by leading litigation partners in previous specialist bar focuses.

The general prerequisites expected of a lawyer of high intellectual calibre and ability are taken for granted. What is essential in this field is that litigators are easy to work with, can work as part of a team, and are receptive to the instructing solicitors' views when carrying out tasks such as drafting.

As one partner comments: “Counsel have to be commercial and capable of concentrating on the main points. They should be client-friendly and know how a large litigation practice works.

“Although barristers are essentially their own bosses with their own working methods, more and more they have to fit those practices into a long-haul case and solicitors do not want to be drafting at the last minute. Sheer personality is also quite important.”

The well-known sets include Brick Court Chambers, Fountain Court chambers and One Essex Court chambers and are regarded as the first stop for most commercial litigators as well as for juniors wanting to practise at the commercial Bar. But these are not the only sets and there is a crossover with chancery sets as well as the more specialised chambers.

Impressive junior silks include Alan Boyle QC of Thirteen Old Square, headed by Charles Sparrow QC, Murray Rosen QC at Michael Beckman QC's set at 11 Stone Buildings, and Romie Tager QC of Hardwicke Building.

Juniors noted as rising stars include Anthony de Garr Robinson and Michael Bloch at One Essex Court and David Waksman at 3 Gray's Inn Place, who is described as “thorough, intelligent and a real fighter when you need it”.

Also recommended is John Wardell at New Court Chambers who is said to be “clear thinking, accessible and good value”.

Other recommended senior juniors are Andrew Popplewell at Brick Court, who is “certainly a rising star and very competent”, and Guy Philipps at Fountain Court who is described as a “fairly senior junior, and will go a long way”.

Another leading litigation partner said he had heard “good things on international commercial contract disputes” of a junior at 2 Temple Gardens, Howard Palmer.

David Marks at 3-4 South Square is said to have a “good commercial awareness as well as technical ability”.

Robin Dicker, Sandra Bristoll, David Alexander and Susan Prevezer at the same set were all cited with approval as juniors.

And at One Essex Court, Claire Reffin “has proved to be extraordinarily good, is diligent and reliable”, Laurence Rabinowitz is “a first class lawyer”, and Jeffrey Gruder is “pretty damn good”.

Catharine Otton-Goulder at Brick Court also rates highly as a junior. Sarah Harman at 4 Stone Buildings is a good all-round junior, “quite imaginative and good with clients”.

In the regions, Michael Booth, Lesley Anderson, Katherine Dunn and Paul Chaisty at 40 King Street, Manchester, all stand out as juniors to use, as does Edward Bartley Jones at Exchange Chambers, Liverpool.

And Mark Anderson at 3 Fountain Court, Birmingham, is described as a “solid junior”, as is Stephen Campbell at Priory Chambers, 2 Fountain Court, Birmingham.