25 October 2021

The honour is all mine - Blog by Perry Swanson and Liberty Chappel on behalf of the JPLA Committee

In 2015, the PLA created the position of honorary member in recognition of those who have made a significant contribution to the PLA and to the field of property litigation. There are currently a total of eight PLA honorary members, appointed between 2017 to 2021, including Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Nicholas Dowding QC, Wendy Miller and Deputy Master Marsh, and the PLA’s intention has been to award membership sparingly and only to outstanding candidates, limiting these to one or two appointments per year.

With this in mind, the JPLA were fortunate to have two of the PLA’s honorary members, Katie Bradford and Vivien King, share their insights from their time in practice, how things have changed for today’s junior property litigators, as well as some hints and tips on things they wish they had known when they were starting out in their legal careers.

Our first speaker, Vivien King, was quite astonishingly the UK’s first property litigator. Vivien practised as a highly respected property litigation partner for a number of well-known firms including Turner Kenneth Brown, SJ Berwin and finally DJ Freeman, where she headed the property litigation team. She left partnership to join Bond Pearce as a consultant in 2003, before making the move to Hollis and becoming a legal consultant in 2009. With this experience in mind, Vivien shared some particular insights for our JPLA members on instructing third parties and pitfalls for junior litigators to avoid, having experienced life as both sender but also recipient of instructions since her move away from private practice. Her notes can be found here. Vivien was appointed as an honorary member of the PLA in 2017.


Our second speaker, Katie Bradford, was one of the seven founding members of the PLA when it was established in 1995, and was the founding member of the Women’s Property Litigation Group. Katie is a partner consultant at Linklaters with a great breadth of experience in property disputes, she is an accredited mediator with over 25 years’ experience and is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Katie built upon Vivien’s segment by sharing her experience of dealing with Counsel as a junior litigator, how important it is to get instructions to Counsel right, as well as the importance of junior litigators fostering strong relationships with Counsel and Clerks alike. Katie was the Chair of the PLA in 1997, and was later appointed as an honorary member of the PLA in 2018.


During the Q&A segment, Vivien and Katie were faced with a number of topical questions posed by our JPLA members, including what their experiences were like as a female in the legal industry at the start of their careers, if they encountered flexible working arrangements at the early stages of their careers and whether a litigator could then, and can now, successfully operate on a flexible basis. They each also shared stories of those in practice who inspired them as a junior, and how the importance of forging strong client relationships and developing new work has evolved since they first began their legal careers.


The JPLA is thankful to Vivien and Katie for sharing their experiences of being a junior litigator and for delivering a thought-provoking session. We hope this is only the start of more to come.

Perry Swanson and Liberty Chappel

On behalf of the JPLA Committee