Practice manager plans expansion

John Malpas

ONE King's Bench Walk is gearing up to move out of the Temple under the direction of a new practice manager.

James Hunt QC's set will move into modern and more spacious offices in Bedford Row once the terms of the lease have been finalised.

The move will be the first major task of new practice manager Peter Bennett.

The set has 43 tenants and specialises in criminal fraud, personal injury, employment law and family.

Bennett, former partnership secretary at the Manchester solicitors' firm Lace Mawer, is qualified in accountancy and marketing and describes himself as a business manager.

He says he is well aware of the difficulties some practice managers from outside the profession have had dealing with suspicious barristers and clerks.

And he is not the first outsider to be brought in by the set to run its administration.

Administrator Joanna Poulton left the set last week to make way for his arrival.

He puts down the problems faced by some practice managers and directors to ignorance of the structure of barristers' chambers, which lack the usual vertical command structure.

Although he has a brief to think "laterally and radically", he stresses his role is to provide barristers, as well as clerks, with the back-up and support needed to do their jobs

properly.

He says: "It's not that barristers do not have good ideas, it's having the time to carry them out. Once they've decided on something, it's my job to come back to them and say what we've achieved."

Martin Bowley QC, who was in charge of Bennett's selection, says Bennett will be the equivalent of the managing partner in a larger firm of solicitors.

"He will be responsible for the whole of the chambers administration, marketing and practice development," he says.

"We hadn't done anything like enough marketing, we hope we can change that."