Solicitors' junior choice

The “new school” of junior counsel prepared to work as a team with the solicitors instructing them receive high praise from law firms around the country.

The partner of one top London firm explains: “What you really want is to have good working partnership where you are not afraid to pick up the telephone and toss ideas about. A lot of the junior Bar are very keen to work in that way and it makes such a difference.”

As with employment specialist silks, the most highly recommended among the juniors and those tipped as rising stars tend to congregate in the same leading sets – although there is a wider spread than among QCs, including 2 Crown Office Row; Fountain Court; 4-5 Gray's Inn Square; 5 Bell Yard; and 5 Paper Buildings. Again, the list is not exhaustive.

As one solicitor comments: “We are always on the look-out for more junior people. The real challenge is to find new ones who are not so expensive or senior as the established names because the amounts recoverable or at stake in many tribunal cases cannot sustain the fees of a QC or senior junior.

“The problem is that there is never a good case to try them out on, so I go out of my way to see them in action for someone else before we use them.”

Littleton Chambers has a “legion of good juniors”, with John Bowers – “very solid” – and Andrew Clarke – “very bright, will analyse a problem from top to bottom and side to side” – among those most often singled out for praise. Antony Sendall is “one of the most incisive juniors I know; give him a pile of papers and he will cut through to the core”, says one leading practitioner. Selwyn Bloch is “very experienced”.

At Old Square, Thomas Linden – “fantastically enthusiastic, nothing is too much trouble” – Tess Gill, Jennifer Eady and Louise Chudleigh are all highly regarded.

Christopher Jeans, at 11 King's Bench Walk, is “able and tenacious”, while colleague Timothy Pitt-Payne is “highly thought of… terrific”. Jonathan Swift is described as “brilliant, the epitome of how to handle an industrial tribunal without giving any feeling of oppression when there is a litigant-in-person”. At the same chambers, Nigel Giffin is “excellent, a really first-rate junior”, Adrian Lynch is a “brilliant advocate, one of the nicest people I have ever met and should take silk shortly,” says one solicitor. John Cavanagh has a “silver voice – I use him for very pukka clients – but he is still down to earth and not at all pompous”. Sean Jones and Charles Bear are also well regarded.

Paul Goulding, of 2 Hare Court, is rated as one of the top specialists. “He is hard-working. I have had faxes from him at 2am and he will help you in any way – superb,” says one solicitor. Colleague Monica Carss-Frisk is “a very good advocate and really knows her specialism inside out”. At the same chambers, Pushpinder Saini is well regarded and Dinah Rose is a “rising star”, very strong on the discrimination side.

Thomas Kibling at Cloisters is highly rated by both London and regional solicitors. “An excellent advocate who has forged law where there wasn't law before – brilliant from an employee's point of view”. Colleague Vivienne Gay is recommended for discrimination and equality cases.

At 2 Crown Office Row, Andrew Stafford and Sue Carr are praised as “user-friendly and particularly bright”.

David Griffiths-Jones at Devereux is highly regarded – “very comfortable with clients” – while colleague Bruce Carr is “bright but practical”. Ingrid Simler has a “nice touch with her cases” and David Bean is “very able”.

Andrew Hillier at 5 Bell Yard is “terrier-like with cases once he gets into them and is good at cross-examination”.

At 5 Paper Buildings, Simon Devonshire is rated “very highly”.

Among those singled out as up-and-coming juniors are Melanie Tether, Old Square – “earmarked for a rapid rise” – and Daniel Stilitz, 11 King's Bench Walk – “a real star and I am pleased when I can tell clients we have briefed him”.

Others include the “very able” Paul Nicholls, 11 King's Bench Walk, and Andrew Fraser-Urquhart, 4-5 Gray's Inn Square. “He is pragmatic in his approach. I saw him in one case where he was brought in two days before the hearing and handed a duff brief, but for someone so recently qualified he dealt with it very skillfully,” says one solicitor.