Why 3VB?

If you are considering applying for commercial pupillages, you may well have consulted the legal directories (The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners) to obtain a market view of 3VB and its competitors. The directories confirm 3VB’s reputation as leader in its field of commercial law, but here are our own reasons as to why you should choose 3VB.

3VB is a commercial set with a genuine depth of expertise in a broad range of practice areas. Our members are recognised as specialists in categories that span the full range of commercial law including banking and financial services, commercial and contractual disputes, civil fraud, energy, natural resources and infrastructure, construction, insolvency, insurance, technology, IT and telecoms, media and entertainment, and professional negligence.

Pupils and new tenants benefit from working on high-quality, heavy-weight commercial litigation, very often with an international dimension, and involving leading solicitors’ firms in the City of London and overseas. However, 3VB is not a set that deals only with multi-million (or billion) pound claims. Although we are instructed in the most significant commercial disputes of the day, we also remain active in the county courts (as well as in smaller cases in the High Court), so that pupils and new tenants have opportunities to take on their own casework and to develop the experience and skills necessary for a long and successful career at the Bar.

3VB is one of the top banking and finance sets. This field of practice is at the forefront of the commercial bar, with a very considerable amount of work available, covering a broad range of disciplines. Because banking and finance are fast-moving international industries, and cases are typically worth very significant sums, the law develops quickly to keep up, and many cases go on appeal to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. To practise banking law means to practise at the cutting edge of developments in contract, restitution, insolvency, professional negligence, and fraud. 3VB is home to authors for several leading banking and finance publications including Paget’s Law of Banking, Jack on Documentary Credits, Banking Litigation, Financial Services Law and Encyclopaedia of Banking Law.

3VB’s arbitration practice is going from strength to strength. In recent years, it has grown into one of the leading sets in the area – as recognised by the major directories. Members act in commercial arbitrations seated in all the major jurisdictions (including London, Paris, Dubai, and Singapore).  Moreover, 3VB’s arbitration practice is second to none in the field of investment treaty arbitrations.  Our members act for both states and investors in treaty arbitrations, recently acting (on the state side) for Morocco and Kazakhstan and (on the investor side) in claims against Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, and Cyprus.  Members also routinely appear in the English Courts in arbitration-related applications, including enforcement proceedings, and have appeared in some of the leading cases in recent years.  Pupils and tenants have extensive opportunities to assist in both commercial and treaty arbitrations, typically led in the early years so as to allow them to develop their own free-standing practices in this specialist area.

Members of 3VB are instructed in some of the most significant disputes before the Commercial Court – often high-profile, high-value cases with an international angle – and barristers joining 3VB can expect a varied and interesting diet of commercial disputes from the very first days of practice, from contractual disputes to urgent freezing injunctions. 3VB’s success in this area is well-recognised by the leading directories, both of which rank 3VB in Band 1 (the highest band) for its commercial dispute resolution work.

3VB is recognised as a leading set of chambers for insolvency and restructuring work by both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners.  Much of the commercial, banking and fraud work that comes into chambers has elements of insolvency to it, for instance where one of the parties to the action is in liquidation or administration.  In addition, 3VB is home to a number of practitioners who are specialist in this field and who regularly receive ‘pure’ insolvency instructions.  As a pupil and a junior tenant, practitioners at 3VB can expect to receive instructions relating to the winding up of companies, the avoidance of transactions which prejudice a company’s creditors, and the commencement of bankruptcy proceedings.

Professional Negligence matters take barristers into high-value and complex disputes that can require them to step into the technical details of an entirely different professional sphere. Members of 3VB have formidable strengths in financial services and banking matters, as well as in claims involving insurance brokers. However, they are regularly instructed across a range of other sectors, from energy and construction matters to high profile disputes about valuable works of art. Members of 3VB act both for and against legal professionals, accountants, valuers, surveyors, auditors, architects, and engineers. 3VB is an excellent place to develop a professional negligence practice with members of Chambers’ Professional Negligence Team being highly praised in the legal directories.

3VB is consistently ranked in the legal directories as a Band 1 set for civil fraud. Members of 3VB are routinely instructed in the most significant and complex civil fraud claims to come before the Courts and arbitral tribunals. Many of the civil fraud matters in which members of 3VB are involved are highly international and raise novel legal issues of both English and foreign law. 3VB is also at the cutting edge of the increasingly important areas of cyber and cryptocurrency fraud.

3VB’s barristers are of the highest calibre. Over 70% are ranked in one or more legal directories, and both its silks and juniors are frequently nominated for and awarded industry accolades for their achievements. 3VB’s pupil supervisors are selected from its group of high-achieving senior juniors, who offer top-quality expertise from which pupils can learn in a rigorous and supportive environment. 3VB also has an outstanding practice management team who work with tenants to build their careers and take them in the direction they want to go.

Chambers has a welcoming, diverse, and informal atmosphere in its spacious accommodation overlooking Gray’s Inn Walks. It is common for members of chambers to visit colleagues in each other’s rooms to chew over a difficult point of law, to go for drinks on an evening after work, or simply to catch-up. Pupils are invited to many Chambers events, where they can socialise with 3VB’s barristers, who come from a broad range of backgrounds, including a significant number who have worked in other careers before coming to the Bar and one of the highest proportions of BME Juniors amongst commercial sets.

Pupils are offered a substantial pupillage award: currently fixed at £70,000 for the year 2021/22 (and £75,000 from 2023), £20,000 of which may be drawn down during the BPTC year. The self-employed nature of the Bar means that earnings thereafter cannot be predicted precisely, but we believe that new tenants at 3VB are well rewarded by comparison with their peers at commercial solicitors’ firms, or elsewhere at the Bar, enjoying good earnings from a very early stage. Tenants pay rent depending upon their seniority, with new tenants paying a specially reduced rate.

During pupillage, chambers provide structured commercial advocacy exercises each term so that pupils can refine their skills before they put them into practice in court. Further, there are genuine opportunities, both in the second six months of pupillage and early on in tenancy, for pupils and new tenants to appear alone in court and gain written and oral advocacy experience on their own account. This experience and responsibility – increasingly rare in the top commercial sets – is invaluable for junior tenants developing their own practices, as it means that they keep these decision-making and oral advocacy skills fresh for the time they are ready for larger unled cases. We also encourage our pupils to take on pro bono cases, for example with Advocate. Pupil supervisors will provide support and ensure that their pupils have the time they need to do pro bono work.  We also encourage pupils and new tenants to undertake a secondment with one of 3VB’s key clients (either a solicitor’s firm or a commercial or regulatory organisation). Going on a secondment can create future work opportunities and establish valuable connections with clients.

3VB’s policy is to offer pupillage only to those candidates with the potential to become tenants in chambers. 3VB recruits no more pupils than there are available spaces for new tenants. Each pupil is therefore judged solely on his or her own merits; pupils do not compete against each other; they will be successful in securing tenancy if the calibre of their work by the time of the decision meets the high standard expected of a junior tenant at 3VB. In the last three years, 3VB has taken on all ten of its pupils as new tenants.