Fox Williams advocate heads back to the bar

A leading employment lawyer has quit Fox Williams' highly-rated team to return to the bar.

Suzanne McKie has left the practice, where she spent two years specialising in advisory and advocacy work, to join one of the leading employment sets, Devereux Chambers.

Her departure highlights the problems facing solicitors firms looking to develop advocacy practices in-house, especially the task of filling the senior positions.

Angela Griffiths, practice development manager at Devereux Chambers, says: “Suzanne took the view that if she continued to practise as a solicitor the next career step would involve her playing a much greater role in management and administration.

“I want to be at the coal face, I don't want to be running a business,” says McKie.

McKie says that in her experience client care can be hampered by practising as an advocate in a solicitors' practice.

This is largely due to the increased time pressures, demands of clients and incessant interruptions to the working day.

McKie was the only Fox Williams lawyer practising advocacy, but partner Jane Mann says the firm is keen to restore the capability.

By recognising the different pressures placed on an advocate, Mann believes it is possible to maintain a dual capability within a solicitors firm and that the choice between the two sides of the profession is a personal one, not a practical one.

She says: “I regard it as a compliment to putting work out [to the bar]. The way forward for us is to do both.”

Mann stresses though that she is a strong supporter of the independent bar and McKie has already profited, receiving a number of instructions from the firm including a four-day trial this week.

McKie originally practised at the chambers of George Carman QC.

After four years she switched to the solicitors' profession joining Mishcon de Reya as an employment and litigation specialist in 1996 before moving to Fox Williams as an assistant solicitor in 1997.