Head of chambers:
Nigel Jones QC
Chief executive: Ann Buxton
Total number of tenants: 72 (including three silks)
Total number of staff: 22
Key clients: Berrymans Lace Mawer, DMH Stallard, Eversheds, Fisher Meredith, Hill Dickinson, Kennedys, Lewis Silkin, Pinsent Masons
Recent cases: Kyle Bay v Underwriters, Associated British Ports v Hydro Soil Services & Ors, Royal Exchange Trust Company Limited v Sunterra, Adrian Ross v Freshfields, Crowton v MoD
Consolidations and mergers, such as 11 New Square’s and 11 Old Square’s merger to form Radcliffe Chambers last June, have been rife at the bar in recent years, but one set that has seen huge profits from doing the total opposite is Hardwicke Buildings.
The set’s 68-strong civil and 48-tenant criminal arms parted ways almost three years ago to create civil set Hardwicke, headed by Nigel Jones QC, and criminal chambers 15 New Bridge Street, led by Patrick Upward QC.
The decision to demerge came after Hardwicke had undergone a considerable period of turmoil over several years, marked by a series of high-profile departures. These culminated in June 2002 when Romie Tager QC and six colleagues, as well as a civil clerking team, left to establish Selborne Chambers.
Hardwicke chief executive Ann Buxton explains that, for the new civil set, the demerger “paid off handsomely”, with its billing turnover increasing by more than 17 per cent in the last year.
“Our increased turnover is at a much higher rate than the top 30 chambers have shown in the last year, their biggest increases only being around 9 per cent,” says Buxton.
Jones and Buxton both put the huge increase in turnover down to the set’s five-year plan, which kicked-off at the time of the demerger.
The five-year plan, now at the halfway point, sees the set managed with more of a “business-style approach”, including going direct to corporations to find out what services they required.
Buxton says: “The strategy ensures there’s a strong synergy between the different practice areas as well as with clients, who have a wealth of experience; and by tapping in to their knowledge it helps us strengthen the services we offer.”
By using the business development plan Hardwicke identified the need for an IP practice, which it added last year, and the need to hone its current specialist areas.
The set scooped 7 New Square’s Mark Engelman, who now heads the Hardwicke IP team, and Ian Silcock. The group was again strengthened when the set bagged leading academic David Bainbridge to fortify its IP law capacity.
Jones says: “Our set’s completely client-driven. At the moment expanding the set into other areas is not on the cards, but if it’s something that our clients would like to see, we’re not ruling it out.
“If our strategy continues to pay off as it is, my goal is for Hardwicke to at least be in The Lawyer’s top 20 in five years.”