Blackstone Chambers picks up third silk in a year with Brick Court’s Maclean

Blackstone Chambers has made its third major silk hire in a year through the addition of Brick Court Chambers silk Alan Maclean QC.

The move will be seen as a rare defection from a magic circle set with Maclean, who took silk in 2009, taking a broad-based practice with him to Blackstone Chambers. His expertise covers commercial and public law and be s significant boost for Blackstone’s commercial litigation offering. 

In 2012 he was instructed as counsel for the Pollard review into the BBC Newsnight/ Jimmy Saville affair, while also picking up instructuctions for defendants named in the Chancery proceedings brought by Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky (13 September 2012). 

It wasn’t his first step into the spotlight, however. In 2003, he was instructed for former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his communications head Alastair Campbell in the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly.

“When you look at the magic circle sets – Essex Court, Fountain Court, Brick Court and Blackstone – there’s not much between them and it’s very much a buyers’ market,” said Blackstone Chambers’ senior clerk Gary Oliver.

His addition to Blackstone is the latest in a string of strategic moves for the set which has been bringing together areas of overlap in its commercial, competition, public law and employment groups.

In October, Michael Bloch QC joined the set from Wilberforce Chambers (25 October 2013), six months after the set added Matrix tax silk Sam Grodzinski QC (19 March 2013).

“We have a very good established commercial group here and it’s been a strategic move for us,” said Oliver. ” Alan approached Blackstone and he’s not wanting to change his practice at all. It’s a question of him looking at his years of seniority in silk and thinking, ‘what people have I got around me? What are they doing in the marketplace and what are they up to?’”

The addition of Grodzinski a year ago was a move to hone in on the crossover between public law and tax, two of his key practice areas. Meanwhile the addition of Bloch marked a significant boost for Blackstone and filled a commercial and arbitration gap left by former chambers head Thomas Beazley QC, who quit the bar for litigation boutique Hage Aaronson last year (24 April 2013).

Blackstone has taken a different tack to others opening in other jurisdictions, remaining dedicated to organic growth in London and joining up its practice areas. The addition of leading Indian barrister Harish Salve in 2013 was key to that, adding power to the set’s one-stop-shop ethos and handing the chambers a route into the Indian market from London.

Oliver said: “We don’t actively go out there promoting lateral hiring or advertising for people. All the recent approaches have been from Alan and others coming to us, India was very strategic and Michael Bloch was very strategic, we have to identify a business need.”

He added: “What we’ve tried to do is see where our strengths are and we can weather the storm much better because of practice areas that overlap. Our answer isn’t just to open in every jurisdiction where we do work because if we did that we would lose focus.” 

Brick Court wished Maclean all the best for the future.