Word: chambers Middle English < chambre Old French < camera Latin < kamara Greek.
Origin: from Latin camera, meaning ‘vault, arched chamber’; from Greek kamara, meaning ‘object with an arched cover’ or ‘private room’.
Chambers is a barrister’s office space.
The noun is used both singularly to mean a specific office (‘Ms X is in chambers today’) and collectively to mean the entire group of offices (‘I’ll see you tomorrow in chambers’).
Sometimes people refer to a group of chambers as a ‘floor’ (‘Mr X is on floor Y’) or as a ‘set’ of chambers (‘Ms T is part of a leading commercial set in Brisbane’).
Some barristers choose not to have chambers. Instead, they might have a door tenancy, work from their own office space, work from a virtual office, or simply work from home.
All of these options can work.
There are plenty of reasons not to have chambers.
Chambers are expensive. Why would you want to fork out good money to work with your competitors?
Some might suggest there is little difference between having chambers or occupying commercial office space on your own.
I have a different view.
Chambers are a valuable part of a barrister’s practice. Let me give you some reasons.
First, chambers look and feel good.
They give the impression (both to yourself and to your clients and solicitors) that you are part of an active group of barristers.
You’re in a lovely space and ready to work.
Second, chambers have other barristers right there next to you.
People in chambers become your emotional and professional support network.
Having colleagues to bounce ideas off, proofread your work, give you an honest opinion or lend you a compassionate ear is priceless.
Third, chambers allow you to be part of a group of professionals with a varied skill set.
Different barristers have different skills. Clients are benefited by a barrister’s professional relationships in chambers.
If you’re unsure about something, you can always knock on the door and get a second opinion from another barrister in chambers. In my experience, other barristers will drop what they’re doing to give you their attention. Day or night. During office hours, before or after work.
My favourite thing about chambers?
People make working at the Bar more enjoyable.
People are the real value of chambers.