Life as a Junior Tenant
Jonathan Dixey is a junior member of chambers. He was called in 2007 and was taken on in 2008.
As all barristers will tell you, there is no such thing as ‘a normal day’. The same is very much the case at 5 Essex Court where the work undertaken by junior tenants is varied, challenging but always rewarding. Given there is no such thing as a normal day, these are some of my thoughts on what life is like as a junior tenant at 5 Essex Court.
I completed pupillage at 5 Essex Court in 2008 so feel well qualified to write about the important transition from pupil to junior tenant. By ‘junior tenant’ I mean someone of 5 years’ call and under.
As anyone taking anything other than a fleeting glance at 5 Essex Court’s website will see, we specialise in police law, public law, employment, personal injury and licensing. As a junior tenant I practise in all of these areas to a greater or lesser degree.
‘Police law’ encompasses a whole range of different disciplines; from applications in the Magistrates’ Courts to defending civil claims and inquests arising out of deaths in custody or fatal shootings.
As a junior tenant I spend much of my time in the Magistrates’ Courts instructed on behalf of the police in civil applications for, amongst other things, the forfeiture of seized cash, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and Sexual Offences Prevention Orders. Whilst these cases are heard in the Magistrates’ Courts, there are some very real benefits to such work at 5 Essex Court. The most important of these benefits is that the work is more often than not incredibly interesting but because these are not criminal proceedings the ‘pay and conditions’ compare very favourably to work which junior tenants in other chambers may undertake.
In addition to the police law aspect of Chambers’ work I spend a considerable time either advising upon or conducting litigation in both the county courts and employment tribunals. This involves mastering quite a number of areas of law which allows me to be flexible in the formative years of my practice.
Because I act on behalf of clients all over the country I have become very familiar with the walks from train stations to courts in all manner of places across the country. From the Ashford Employment Tribunal to the Yeovil County Court via Bedford, Birmingham and Burnley, there is no limit to where life as a junior tenant at 5 Essex Court takes you!
In addition to building up my own practice (with the guidance and support of a brilliant team of Clerks), it is also possible to assist as a junior on some of the biggest cases of the day. Hence, I have been and continue to be involved in some very high profile cases with more senior members of Chambers. This not only offers the opportunity of great exposure to such work but it also means you get to be involved in shaping litigation.
Life as a junior tenant anywhere can be stressful: it can mean early starts and late finishes, but these are sacrifices which are more than compensated for by the quality of work at 5 Essex which is consistently high. A couple of years in, I am pleased to commend 5 Essex Court to anyone who has the desire to build a successful practice at the Bar.