Ian Bergson, Fountain Court Chambers

Name: Ian Bergson

Chambers: Fountain Court Chambers

Position: Pupil

Degree: Law

University: Oxford University

Studied BPTC at: N/A (Transferring solicitor)

Hobbies: Football (Norwich City), Cycling, Photography, Travel

How many rounds of applications did it take to get pupillage? 1

Number of interviews attended: 3

Ian Bergson, Fountain Court Chambers

Why did you decide to train as a barrister?

Following university, I trained as a solicitor at a City firm and qualified into the litigation department at the end of my training contract.

Although I greatly enjoyed my exposure to commercial litigation during my time there, I decided to transfer to the Bar because I wanted the opportunity to present cases in Court. The Bar offers much greater opportunities for oral advocacy.

What was the toughest pupillage interview question you were asked (at any chambers) and how did you answer?

Before moving to the Bar, I took a year’s leave of absence from the firm that I worked at to complete the BCL. I was asked whether that was a complete waste of time, given I had already spent a number of years in practice as a solicitor.

I maintained that it wasn’t and that I had found the BCL to be helpful since returning to practice. Hopefully, that was convincing!

Tell us a bit about the type of work you’re doing at the moment… 

A mix of larger commercial cases and small claims in the County Court. Although it can be difficult to balance the two, it is important to get advocacy experience at an early stage after the tenancy decision and this is encouraged by Chambers.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

The variety and quality of the work, so there is rarely a dull moment.

What aspect of the job have you found most difficult to get to grips with?

The pupillage year. It is an intense and demanding process, given work pressures and a desire to impress each member of Chambers that you work with. That said, it is also a great opportunity and I have learnt a huge amount over the course of the year.

What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?

I was unsure whether I would feel like I was in direct competition with the other pupils prior to the tenancy decision. Happily, this was not the case because of the way Fountain Court structures its pupillage. All work is on real cases from different members of Chambers and there are no common assessed pieces of written work or competitive advocacy exercises. We all got on really well which makes the year much less stressful.

Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?

A solicitor, in relation to an ongoing investigation and the timeline for reporting back to the client.

What’s your best ‘in court’ anecdote so far?

Attending court during pupillage to watch the first day of the trial of a claim for declaratory relief as to the identity of the Libyan government. This was a high profile case which had been brought to resolve a dispute over the control of a very substantial sovereign wealth fund.

Which member of chambers (barrister or otherwise) would you want to be on the run with in the event of a zombie apocalypse, and why?

Edward Levey – who would probably use the opportunity to out-run the zombies on his road bike. I wouldn’t want to miss out on the chance to clock up an amazing time on Strava!

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).

  • I used to be a Manchester United fan, before I saw the light and switched my allegiances to Norwich City.
  • My favourite film is The Prestige.
  • The furthest I have travelled by car in a day is 1,000 miles, from Denver to Chicago.

If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?

Probably something related to computing, such as programming or web design.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career as a barrister?

If you think the Bar is for you, do not be put off by the competition or the perception that it is the risky option when you are at university. If you are deciding between the two branches of the legal profession, try and arrange both a mini-pupillage and a vacation scheme so that you can make an informed decision at an early stage.

And finally, barristers tend to have a lot to say, so please feel free to add any extra words of wisdom here:

If you are a solicitor thinking of transferring to the Bar, do not be discouraged. It seems to be an increasingly common way of entering the profession and the process is surprisingly easy.