Our Chambers

Our Chambers

3 Verulam Buildings is one of the UK’s principal sets of barristers’ chambers, with 90 members specialising in a wide range of commercial law and practising both nationally, in other countries’ jurisdictions and internationally. Our legal excellence and the quality of service provided to our clients are praised in the leading law directories.

Please use the People and Area of Expertise pages of our website to explore further the services we can offer and the barristers and practice managers who will provide them.

Social Responsibility

3VB is committed to social responsibility. It is part of 3VB’s strategic plan. We believe in contributing to society, promoting justice, and supporting access to the legal profession. Of course, many individual barristers and staff give their time, enthusiasm, and money to help their own favourite causes, but chambers itself has as part of its core values a commitment to contributing to its community and acting in a socially responsible way.

Social Responsibility in Chambers has four areas of impact:

  • People – including equality, diversity, social mobility, and wellbeing
  • Community – both internationally, locally, and in the legal community, including our active pro bono work, both in the UK and abroad
  • Business Practice – including ethical practices and responsibilities
  • Environment.

People

Equality and Diversity 

As set out below, 3VB is committed to being a diverse and inclusive place in which to work and strives to ensure that the principle of fair and equal treatment is upheld in all areas of our business, including recruitment of pupils, members, and staff, and also in the areas of practice development of members of Chambers and promotion of staff.

3VB is proud that its members and staff have a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities. Every three years, 3VB conducts a survey of its members and staff recording such data. 1and it continues to promote that diversity in its training, retention, and recruitment policies.

3VB encourages individuality and provides a working environment which allows everyone to develop regardless of racial group, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or marital status. Each member and member of staff treats their colleagues with dignity and respect, and we foster an environment where individuals from all types of backgrounds can flourish and achieve their ambitions in a cohesive and supportive environment. We provide continuous training through both our Equality & Diversity Committee and our Pupillage Committee, including in-house training on fair recruitment and on unconscious bias, as well as external talks (see, for example, 3VB’s “Black and Minority Access to the Commercial Bar” event (Click here) and Ali Malek QC’s speech at Gray’s Inn’s Diversity and Inclusion webinar). (Click here)

Since 2019, 3VB has been one of the first signatories to the Women in Law Pledge (Click here). 3VB maintains its own action plan and diversity targets and promotes gender diversity.

3VB is committed to assisting all members and staff to manage their family responsibilities and to enjoy a rewarding career in Chambers. We have policies on Flexible Working which support our people with family commitments. We also have comprehensive Parental Leave Policies which reflect our philosophy in this regard.

1 The data is based on responses received. Consequently, total numbers vary from category to category and may not reflect the position that would have applied had all those eligible to participate chosen to do so. Also, data is not published where it might reasonably lead to the identification of individuals.,

We believe that this helps us to recruit and retain members of Chambers and staff of the highest quality from the widest pool of talent.

Outreach and social mobility 

3VB is proud to be involved in the following schemes and initiatives:

  • An active participant in Mentoring for Underrepresented Groups, which supports and encourages individuals from groups which are underrepresented at the Bar of England and Wales to pursue careers as barristers. Those underrepresented groups include women; people from minority ethnic backgrounds; people with disabilities; LGBT+ people; people who spent time in care; and people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
  • A Founding Partner of ‘Bridging the Bar’ (BTB). BTB is a diversity mini-pupillage scheme that seeks to encourage the access and representation of aspiring barristers from underrepresented communities at the Bar. We arranged mini pupillages for 4 candidates, each for 2 days earlier this year. More details can be found here.
  • Supporters of the Black Talent Charter (BTC) (Click here). In signing up as a “Supporter” we are making a public commitment to support the objectives of the BTC. We will engage with other sets who have agreed to become supporters and work together to develop strategies to setting achievable targets while still complying with equality legislation.
  • A member of the Pegasus Access and Support Scheme (PASS). Organised by Inner Temple (here). PASS was established by the Inner Temple and 62 different partner chambers across a range of practice areas. The aim is to improve access to the profession and to support high achieving students from under-represented backgrounds by providing the experiences they need to be able to thrive at the Bar. PASS aims to do this by securing a mini pupillage in chambers for each participant. PASS also supports participants by providing a focused professional and advocacy skills development programme.
  • Taking part in outreach programmes with schools, promoting the profession especially to those groups of society currently under-represented. In particular, 3VB has:
    • for the past 10 years, in conjunction with the Eton College Universities Summer School (ECUSS), provided a Law Day for summer school students from underrepresented groups
    • recently partnered with the Sutton Trust to participate in its “Pathways to Law” (Click here) programme over the summer
    • supporting a local sixth form school in the community, by providing debating, mooting, CV writing and other workshops and talks
  • Funding several academic prizes and a substantial graduate law scholarship for the BCL.
  • Running and participating in virtual Student Law Fairs, in addition to mini pupillages, to give students an opportunity to learn about the different areas of the bar and the routes to the bar and where they are encouraged to freely ask questions and meet (virtually) our members of Chambers.

Wellbeing 

Chambers is committed to providing a working environment in which its members and staff are safe, secure, and healthy. A work environment conducive to good physical, emotional and psychological health is one that is stimulating and challenging. Such a work environment strives to meet personal needs and business challenges through considering health and well-being and by improving the way in which our work is carried out. Please see our Wellbeing policy for further information.

Over the last decades, 3VB has grown to approximately 90 members of Chambers. But it maintains a collegiate and welcoming environment for all. Chambers arranges internal talks and seminars on wellbeing and regular Chambers social events which are well-attended.

3VB has trained 7 of its members and staff to be registered Mental Health First Aiders. These people will be a point of contact for anyone in chambers who is experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. This interaction could range from having an initial conversation through to supporting the person to get appropriate help.

Chambers is also a financial supporter of LawCare, (Click here) a charity which provides mental health and wellbeing support to anyone working in the law, as well as encouraging members of chambers.

Community 

Access to Justice, pro bono work and the legal community

3VB is committed to access to justice both in the UK and abroad.

3VB has given a long-term financial commitment to Advocate, the Bar’s pro bono unit, as “Gold” members. Chambers also actively encourages individual pro-bono work from the outset of practice and throughout members of chambers’ careers. All new junior members are expected to do an Advocate case within the first 2 years of practice and fourth seat pupils take on an Advocate case under the supervision of or (where required/appropriate) jointly with their pupil supervisor. This builds up a connection to the work done by these organisations and helps our members appreciate how important it is. 3VB is proud that its members include past nominees for Young Pro Bono Barrister of the Year and that the pro bono cases in which members have been involved include one highlighted in #20years20cases (Click here).

3VB are founding and long-time supporters of JUSTICE and members of JUSTICE60, (Click here) a human rights charity, working to reform the UK justice system with a focus on the most vulnerable and marginalised in society. Hartley Shawcross (Baron Shawcross, (4 February 1902 – 10 July 2003), is a famous former member of 3VB and in 1957 among a group of eminent British lawyers founded JUSTICE, and he became its first chairman, a position he held until 1972.

3VB also gives generously to

  • BAILLI, a charity that provides access to freely available British and Irish public legal information.
  • The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, (Click here) which is committed to advancing the rule of law worldwide.

As set out on its dedicated IADRU page, (Click here) 3VB provides a unique form of “international CSR” through its international advisory and dispute resolution unit – from financial services in Africa, to outreach schemes on a global scale. For more information, see the 3VB IADRU webpage.

3VB is also proud to donated to the IBAHRI and Helena Kennedy QC’s project to evacuate and help resettle Afghan Judges and their families in late 2021, about which there is further information on 3VB’s knowledge hub (Click here).

Local community giving and doing

Chambers supports numerous charities and is pleased to assist various other projects and organisations in the local community. Over the last decade, it has awarded over £600,000 to a variety of good causes including, local schools, local community associations, and many other charities in the local community, including: the Christopher Hatton School (Click here), Down’s South London (Click here), the Holborn Community Association (Click here), and Camden Foodbank (Click here).

Our next step will be to encourage active and direct involvement through a range of activities that will benefit our local community. This will be in addition to the work our members do in a pro bono capacity. Details of the variety of pro-bono work undertaken by barristers at 3VB are given in the CVs of individual members of Chambers.

Business Practices

As a leading set of chambers, we seek to achieve high standards in all we do. We believe that the success of our business and the achievement of our strategy depend on the trust and confidence we inspire in all our stakeholders. To do this, we must act responsibly, creating long-term, sustainable value and supporting their future success.

Responsible business entails compliance with certain standards, which includes:

  • Terms of business, which set out clearly our responsibilities in relation to client confidentiality, conflicts of interest, fees, and client care
  • Quality Service Standards to improve client care, from the moment client instructions are accepted to when the matter is completed
  • An Anti-Money Laundering Policy
  • An Anti-Bribery Policy, Ethics Policy and Modern Salary Statement

 

3VB is an accredited London Living Wage employer and has committed to pay at least the London Living Wage to both employees and subcontracted workers (such as security and cleaning staff) which is set annually by the Living Wage Foundation and calculated by the Greater London Authority.

Environment

3VB is committed to running a business that is environmentally sustainable and we continually strive to minimise our impact on the environment. Our Environmental Policy (Click here) sets out how we intend to achieve this. We have ongoing reviews to ensure we maintain and develop an integrated, comprehensive, and practical sustainability policy that ranges from how we source our energy and office supplies, to how we print and recycle. Through the work we have done to date, and commit to continue doing, we are a Founder Member of the Bar Council’s Sustainability Network programme, a signatory of the London Clean City Award Scheme, and member of the Camden Climate Change Alliance.

What we do in Chambers

Within Chambers, we have strived to ensure an inclusive workplace that reflects our values, supports the wellbeing of our staff and members, champions difference as a strength, and encourages everyone to deliver their best at work.

We have a detailed Equal and Diversity Policy, which is available to view here.

We are committed to assisting all members and staff to manage their family responsibilities alongside a rewarding career in Chambers. We have comprehensive maternity and paternity policies, which reflect our philosophy. For further information please see our Parental Leave Policy.

We are also committed to ensuring a work environment in which all individuals, clients and the public are treated with dignity and respect. For further information, please see Chambers’ anti-harassment policy and Chambers’ Internal Complaints Procedure.

We offer flexible working. Smarter working practices help us to become a more open and modern organisation. We want to foster a culture focused on outputs, not presenteeism. We know that that increases wellbeing of members and staff. Our Flexible Working Policy can be accessed here.

We believe disability should not be a barrier to success. 3VB is wheelchair-accessible and has conference rooms and accommodation available on the ground floor. Any reasonable adjustments will be considered for all disabled applicants, members, staff, or clients. For further information, please see Chambers’ Reasonable Adjustments Policy.

We are proud to be a diverse set of chambers. At present, representation at Chambers by minority groups is over 17%, which is higher than the national average. However, we recognise that there is still progress to be made, particularly to enhance Black representation and inclusion at senior levels.

We will continue to collect data to find out where we are succeeding, where we are falling short, and how to achieve the outcomes that we want. Through studying this data, listening, and talking, we want to better understand how we can attract even more talented people from underrepresented groups.

We keep our recruitment and performance management processes under review for disproportionate outcomes. We intervene where necessary. We regularly hold in-house equality and diversity training sessions for all members, pupils, and staff. It is a requirement that everyone at 3VB attends at least one E&D training course each calendar year.

3VB is committed to conducting its affairs in a manner which is does not unlawfully discriminate and is fair and equitable for all members of Chambers and pupils. This includes, but is not limited to, the fair distribution of work amongst pupils and members of Chambers. Details can be found in our Fair Access to Work Policy.

How we are going further

Beyond Chambers, we want to encourage more diversity at the Bar and help address structural problems that inhibit individuals from groups that are underrepresented.

This is why we support and participate in organisations such as:

  • The Sutton Trust
  • Bridging The Bar
  • The Black Talent Charter
  • The Bar Council’s Women in Law Pledge

In 2020, together with five of our fellow commercial sets, we set up the Mentoring for Underrepresented Groups Scheme, which aims to mentor young people from underrepresented groups in their path to pursue careers as barristers. For 2021 the scheme was expanded to 10 commercial sets. We are delighted to be part of this Scheme.

Diversity Data

We are pleased to publish, as required by the Bar’s regulatory body, the Bar Standards Board, diversity data relating to the barristers and staff in Chambers.  The latest survey was carried out in 2019 and the resultant data is shown below.

Our Chambers