Meryl Hughes, Head of Fenners Chambers Profile

I am the newly appointed Head of Fenners Chambers.  Having practised as a barrister in this area for about 30 years, I have the pleasure of knowing many of you professionally.  I am fortunate to have made very good friends with local lawyers over the years.  I am married to another barrister at Fenners Chambers and my sister is a local solicitor, notary and compliance specialist. I enjoy being part of our thriving local legal world.  It is a privilege to practise in Cambridgeshire and an honour to be leading Fenners Chambers, a Top Tier Set in the Legal 500.

Fenners Chambers offers legal advice and advocacy in courts and tribunals.  Although we are based in Cambridge, we work throughout the country and internationally.  We have experts in matters relating to business, crime, employment, family (divorce and children), personal injury, property, probate, inheritance, public law, shipping and aviation law and marine public law including international fisheries law.  We offer mediation, arbitration and can adjudicate disputes.

Women lawyers have come a long way since we were given the vote 100 years ago.  At Fenners Chambers, I am one of 24 women and we are part of over 50 individual and progressive barristers.  Clare Gould and Jodie Drummond were welcomed as tenants last September after successfully completing their pupillage at Fenners Chambers. Over the years, Fenners Chambers has embraced opportunities for barristers to work part-time and flexibly due to judicial appointments, family commitments or to promote a sense of adventure in those who have wanted to travel or try their hand at something different for a while.   Equality, diversity and inclusion have been core values at Fenners Chambers throughout my tenancy and I shall be upholding them.

I wish to promote well-being for everyone in legal practice locally.   I am conscious that the pressures on lawyers may be overwhelming at times.  Maintaining a good balance between work and life is a challenge for all of us.  I have taken some initial steps to raise the importance of well-being.  I am promoting cycling to court, so look out for me on my Brompton on my way to the Family Court.  Other colleagues enjoy walking to court.  Exercise is good for well-being and the savings on car park fees soon add up.   We have a weekly fruit delivery to Chambers supplied by Les Ward of Cottenham.  More fruit in our diets is healthy, although we do like cakes at Fenners Chambers as well!  Encouraging rest and sleep for busy practitioners is work-in-progress for me.  There has always been a sense of belonging at Fenners Chambers during my time there and that sense of connection is a strong support network when it is needed.

Access to Justice is an essential part of civilisation.  At Fenners Chambers we have been involved with legal advice surgeries in the past.  Now we are supporting new local initiatives such as the Cambridge Citizens’ Advice pro bono Support@Court project and Anglia Law School Law Clinic at Anglia Ruskin University.  A free legal advice resource for people in Cambridge who would not otherwise be able to afford it is important.  We have been part of fund-raising events participating in the Great Legal Bake-Off, the Legal Walk and the Chariots of Fire race.  Chambers’ social responsibility is thriving.  

Fenners Chambers looks forward to being part of the Cambridgeshire and District Law Society for many years to come.

Meryl Hughes, Fenners Chambers, Cambridge