Consulting clerks

Daniel Holden asks clerks which barristers they would cherry-pick for a dream set

Each month, The Lawyer asks solicitors to name their barrister dream teams. Solicitors pick the leader and junior, without thought to expense or availability, whom they would want fighting in their corner.

But such is the specialism at the personal injury and medical negligence Bar that most solicitors feel unable to name their ideal senior and junior.

So instead, clerks have been asked to rate the talent based outside their sets.

Usually chambers' clerks from leading sets pick out their top choices on the strength of reputation and personal contact. In contrast to solicitors' choices, clerks favour cherry-picking from various sets, rather than naming other chambers with solid reputations in the field.

Of the London sets, few doubt the pre-eminence of Daniel Brennan QC at 39 Essex Street. There is simply “no one better” in the personal injury and medical negligence fields, in particular with big multi-party actions.

The “very good” Edwin Glasgow QC, set head at 39 Essex Street, is acknowledged as a “major player” in the field and is top of the list for most sets, in London and elsewhere.

Ronald Walker QC's chambers at 12 King's Bench Walk is a target for poachers. Ronald Walker QC himself commands praise from all quarters, as does Richard Methuen QC at the same set.

Of the juniors in the personal injury field, clerks agree with instructing solicitors that Allan Gore from 12 King's Bench Walk is a high priority as a junior. Many think he is set to take silk. Colleague William Featherby is also noted.

In medical negligence, Kieran Coonan QC, head of 6 Pump Court, is the man to beat. At Doughty Street Chambers, Stephen Irwin QC gets numerous mentions.

2 Crown Office Row (Hamilton QC) is regarded by London and Midland circuits as having “good people”.

Of the silks, Christopher Purchas QC is most desired. Michael Kent QC is noted. George Pulman QC at Hardwicke Building is another top choice by clerks, surprisingly absent from solicitors' choices (see opposite).

In London, clerks put Robin Stewart QC at 199 The Strand on their lists of “must haves”. Stewart would add “weight and gravity” to any set, while Henry Witcomb is another young junior whose talent has been spotted.

At 1 Paper Buildings (Slater QC), Jonathan Waite and Colin Nixon were two juniors who are highly desirable.

Old Square Chambers, the Bristol set headed by John Melville Williams QC, is a favoured choice in the regions and one of the few sets from which clerks would import wholesale Nigel Cooksley, Christopher Carling, Barry Cotter and John Hendy QC.

At St John's Chambers , head of chambers Roderick Denyer QC is labelled “the leading silk in Bristol”. At Guildhall Chambers, Ian Pringle is “highly rated”, while Adrian Palmer QC is “highly regarded”.

At 33 Park Place in Cardiff, Graham Walters is “worthy of mention”.

In Nottingham, Ropewalk Chambers wins plaudits for its depth of talent. Richard Maxwell QC, Richard Payne and Jayne Adams are among those who are given the thumbs up by rival clerks.

Stephen Grime QC of Manchester's Deans Court Chambers is desired by sets on the Midlands circuits. As is Patrick Field, a senior junior at the same set.

Clerks in the city are fully aware of Giles Wingate-Saul QC's reputation as a “formidable” force at Byrom Street Chambers. Equally, Philip Grundy of 28 St John Street is mentioned by several clerks in Manchester and Birmingham as “top class”. Winston Hunter and James Rowley are “exceptional”.

David Heaton of 18 St John Street in Manchester receives high praise from various clerks, who have first-hand knowledge of his “excellent work”, in both PI and medical negligence. Nigel Poole, regarded as a “rising star”, is “doing more and more work” in Manchester.

Nicholas Braslavsky of 40 King Street, Manchester, has an enviable reputation and many clerks would want him in their sets.

In Liverpool, notable juniors include Scott Donovan of Derby Square Chambers, acknowledged for medical negligence work, and the “senior” Charles Feeny at Nigel Gilmour QC's Peel House set.

David Knifton at Chavasse Court Chambers, Liverpool, has built up a “very good reputation, very quickly” in personal injury work and is highly desirable to other sets.

Dr Simon Fox at Exchange Chambers is noted as a “rising star” among the juniors. Fox, at only four years call, has a medical background and could “add value to medical negligence work”.

In Birmingham Philip Gregory QC at No. 6 Fountain Court is named as “superb”. The newly formed St Philip's Chambers amalgamates 7 Fountain Court with Priory Chambers, and includes Stephen Campbell and Edward Pepperall, both noted as highly regarded juniors on the circuit.