M'learned friends who can rest their case

The UK's 10 leading barristers, as chosen by their fellow experts
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The Independent Online

Gordon Pollock

Known as "the figurehead for high-profile cases" and as a "versatile all-rounder", Gordon Pollock QC, 57, shows his expertise at the Bar in cases of commercial litigation, energy and natural resources, banking, insurance, international arbitration, shipping, media and entertainment, civil fraud and sports law.

"His brilliant cross-examination skill and tendency to go above and beyond the call of duty make his hefty charge-out rates worthwhile," says the "Stars at the Bar" section of Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession.

"My objective – certainly in arguing and dealing with a case – is to try and simplify as much as possible, and to cut away the surrounding undergrowth so that the ultimate issue stands out reasonably starkly," Mr Pollock said recently.

"In fact, I've always thought the single most important quality for a lawyer or a judge is analytical ability."

In 1993 Mr Pollock acted for Sony against George Michael, when the pop star unsuccessfully attempted to pull out of his recording contract.

He was also involved in a fraud case between the Swiss trading company Noga and the Nigerian government.

As for the future, sources close to Mr Pollock claim he has rejected proposals to become a judge.

They cite the compulsory retirement age, the drop in earnings (he is currently in the £1.5 to £2m bracket) and the prospect of having to go out on the circuit as significant deterrents.

Michael Beloff

Although now effectively in part-time practice, due to his commitments as president of Trinity College Oxford, Michael Beloff QC is still considered to have a "brilliant, multi-faceted practice" with a high profile in administrative and public law. Mr Beloff, 59, is also distinguished in employment law, human rights, immigration and sports law.

"My success comes from defying the misconception that there are only seven days in a week."

Anthony Boswood

Anthony Boswood QC, 53, is re-nowned as one of the country's best cross-examiners. He specialises in commercial litigation, banking, civil fraud, energy and natural resources, and insurance.

"What attracted me to the Bar is what still makes it a great profession. You do intellectually challenging work and you're your own boss."

Michael Briggs

The practice run by Michael Briggs QC, 46, is involved in all aspects of business disputes, including civil fraud, commercial litigation, commercial chancery and company law.

"I think that success at the Bar depends mainly on thorough preparation, constant focus on basic legal principles and common sense, accessibility to clients, realistic advice, good clerking and luck."

Christopher Butcher

Christopher Butcher QC, 38, specialises in insurance law. He is also known for his work in commercial litigation, international arbitration, professional negligence, shipping and banking. He has recently handled cases relating to film finance, involving claims against insurers and brokers.

"The great attractions of the Bar remain that one has no boss, sets one's own targets, and has relatively limited administrative functions."

Elizabeth Gloster

Elizabeth Gloster QC, 52, practises across a range of areas, including insolvency and commercial chancery. She is a deputy high court judge in the chancery division and acted for the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry over the disqualification of directors at Barings bank.

"The main factors in my success have been a highly competitive personality, an ability to read fast, the energy to work very long hours, and being able to keep a sense of humour."

Lord Goldsmith

Lord Goldsmith QC has a broad practice centred on commercial litigation, banking, civil fraud, international arbitration and professional negligence. Now 50, he was recently made a life peer and took over as Her Majesty's Attorney General in June.

"Holding public appointments gives me a broader perspective on the legal system and my own practice."

Lord Grabiner

The practice run by Lord Grabiner QC, 56, is mainly involved in advisory work on mergers and takeovers, but is also established in areas such as commercial litigation, banking and civil fraud. Famous for doing "a demolition job on the opposition", Lord Grabiner is also a deputy high court judge.

"Being at the Bar is the best job in the world as it gives complete independence and is a constant challenge."

David Pannick

David Pannick QC, 45, specialises in administrative and public law and has worked for the Home Secretary, regional authorities and foreign governments. Other areas of expertise include employment, immigration and sports.

"The Bar offers independence, variety of work, the money and the opportunity – which remains so attractive – to interfere, temporarily, in other people's lives."

Jonathan Sumption

Jonathan Sumption QC, 52, has been called "the cleverest and quickest mind at the Bar". Areas of expertise include banking, commercial litigation and professional negligence.

"I am responsible to nobody but my client and the court. There is no other profession like it, not even the stage."