Israeli barrister is elected to head set

THE GAME of basketball is a key source of inspiration for the new head of chambers at Lamb Building.

And the fact that it is basketball rather the more traditional British sports such as cricket or rugby which inspires Ami Feder can be easily explained.

Feder is the only Israeli barrister practising in the UK and used to play the game in his youth.

Now, by virtue of his election to replace Kenneth Wheeler as head of the common law set, he has become the only Israeli head of chambers in this country.

As part of his drive to get the 32 tenants of the set working for a "common purpose" he has introduced a monthly "Thursday Forum" – a regular open meeting when all members of chambers are encouraged to meet and discuss the set's affairs.

He likens the forum to the "time out" sessions basketball coaches can call at any stage of a match in order to talk tactics with the team.

A second innovation which the new head of chambers has introduced is an annual general meeting for the set.

The first meeting has already taken place in a hired hall on a Sunday when Feder could be assured of the tenants' undivided attention.

"Usually meetings are held at the end of the working day when everybody is cramped into a small room and they are all looking at their watches because they want to go home," he said.

The purpose behind the initiative is to put the set on a more businesslike footing while fostering a unity of purpose among the tenants.

"I want clients to know that they don't just come to an independent barrister when they come to the chambers," said Fender.

"If somebody's not available then there must be back up, it's not just a group of 29 prima donnas."

As an Israeli lawyer, Feder does bring a different perspective to his new head of chambers role.

The fraud specialist is a consultant at an Israeli law firm and regularly travels to his home country where the profession is fused.

But while his personal drive to put the set on a more businesslike footing can partly be explained by his experience working in a law firm, Feder is not an advocate of a fused profession in the UK.

"When it is operating properly the system here is superb," he said, identifying the jealously guarded independence of the barrister as a vital ingredient of the system.