Senior silk Philip Vallance QC has joined law firm Berrymans Lace Mawer from 4-5 Gray's Inn Square
The firm believes that Vallance will help to reduce costs for clients and speed up answers to questions which, if sent to outside counsel, could be costly and time-consuming. The move follows Norton Rose's announcement that it has cut bar spend by almost 50 per cent over the last two years (The Lawyer, 17 December 2001). Vallance is notable for his wide common law practice, which covers construction, environmental, professional negligence and professional indemnity. He is also instructed regularly by the Inland Revenue. Recently, he handled the high-profile defence of engineers from engineering company M&E, arising out of the delayed construction of the new British Library. He has received work from Berrymans for two decades and they share similar practices. Vallance will practise common law, although he will be assigned to the firm's general litigation department. Berrymans senior partner Paul Taylor first offered him a position 13 months ago, around the time that Vallance moved from One Crown Office Row - where he had been since the start of his 32-year career - to 4-5 Gray's Inn Square. After Taylor's offer, Vallance realised that the move between chambers was not as big a change as he had wished. Consequently, he was keen to accept the new offer. Having an in-house counsel will significantly reduce client costs. Keith Lonsdale, construction partner at the firm, said: "We may brief counsel for £20,000 and the case settles in, say, two days. With Philip, because he's internally briefed, the case settles and the client is only charged for one day." Vallance added that chambers' fees are higher because counsel are booked to do a case for a certain length of time. They are paid extra in case the case settles earlier and they have nothing to do. The other benefit of hiring Vallance is that, post-Woolf, the emphasis is on settling cases before court. Vallance can therefore be engaged early on an advisory level, rather than instructing expensive outside counsel who may never be needed.