The stream of defections from 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square to 39 Essex Street continues today, with news of former head of chambers Richard Spearman QC’s move. Spearman’s departure follows that of 24 other 4-5 Gray’s Inn barristers, who left the set to join 39 Essex Street in December. The exodus made 39 Essex Street London’s largest set. Meanwhile, 4-5 Gray’s Inn has since agreed to merge with public law set Atlas Chambers.
But the intrigue does not stop at mere hires. The Lawyer’s sources indicate that the 4-5 Gray’s Inn barristers have each been asked to make a personal investment of £30,000 into their new set. All in, 39 Essex Street received a cash injection of more than £700,000 from its litigator acquisitions. The set says that the joining fees would go towards the running costs of the chambers. And 39 Essex Street is most definitely a set with lofty growth ambitions. For instance, in June 2012 it became one of a small number of chambers to ink in a Singapore launch.
But despite being an unsual practice for the bar, the pricey entry fees have seemingly done nothing to dissuade the incoming barristers from 4-5 Grays Inn from joining 39 Essex Street. Perhaps the ambitious set is positioning itself like a certain well-known Belgian hops-based beverage: reassuringly expensive.