Clerks are the key, reveals report

Chris Fogarty

Senior clerks and greater specialisation have been pinpointed as the keys to the future success of a chambers in a survey of solicitors' attitudes towards barristers.

Twenty-nine solicitors, from a range of firms, were asked about the services provided by barristers in research commissioned by Newcourt Chambers and conducted by Randolph Williams Research.

The report makes it clear that clerks are a significant factor in solicitors' attitudes towards chambers.

One solicitor said: "I think clerks are absolutely critical in making a chambers work."

Solicitors wanted to deal with clerks who could weigh up barristers' strengths and who admitted if their chambers was not the best one to handle a particular brief.

One of the few reasons solicitors pinpointed for switching chambers was problems with the clerk.

When it came to selecting a chambers, solicitors cited traditional ties rather than fees as being the most important consideration.

The report also came out strongly in favour of greater chambers' specialisation in order to attract more and higher-calibre work.

"A good medium-term strategy for chambers… would be to establish a recruitment policy aimed at developing teams of specialists," says the report.

Newcourt's Head of Chambers, Christian Bevington, said that introducing specialisation could pose problems for a medium-sized set such as hers that had grown "organically" and was made up of civil, family and criminal law strands.

Bevington said that the report had helped confirm some of the chambers' views and practises in dealing with solicitors.

The report is available for sale to other chambers.