Merging chambers – challenges and opportunities

Merging chambers – challenges and opportunities

This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Practice Management on 11 April 2014. Click here for a free trial of Lexis®PSL.

Kate Beaumont interviews Frank Feehan QC, head of chambers at 42 Bedford Row, on the forthcoming merger between 42 Bedford Row and a substantial number of 13 King's Bench Walk.

What circumstances would lead two sets of chambers to consider a merger?

At 42 Bedford Row we reached a consensus last year that in order to maintain excellence both in our own practices and in service to clients we had to expand. To be a set which undertakes work across the civil spectrum we needed to have practice groups which had their own critical mass and be almost “sets within a set”. This helps to give each group responsibility for its own work and its own market presence. Ultimately, it is quality that wins cases and clients, but the resources that sheer size can add to that quality help enormously so long as it is that initial quality that always carries the day. At 42 Bedford Row and at 13 King's Bench Walk both sets felt that we could reach that position together.

What are the challenges of merging sets?

The main challenges are those that are almost imponderable. The Bar is an intensely personal profession and individuality can be either its greatest strength or a terrible time bomb. The first challenge is therefore to ensure that you actually like your potential new colleagues, and that their values are your values. Once that has been established, the more obvious challenges such as the merging of clerking and business operations become relatively easy in that although there are difficult choices to make, we are able to make them together. In purely technical terms, I am sure that the challenges in terms of the merging of practices and business operations are enormously complex and difficult, but the staff of both sets and the hard work of the senior clerk and the commercial manager relieve our barristers of any concerns on that score. Good staff makes everything else easy, and we have great staff.

Does the creation of a new set ope

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