Many law firms, irrespective of size, will use either the very senior or the very junior barristers for chancery work. The work in the middle range will be kept in-house.
The qualities considered most important in chancery barristers are clarity, perception, an ability to pay attention to technical detail and being able to provide a practical answer to a particular problem. The caveat is that clients do not necessarily want an extremely complicated tax scheme unless it is tried and tested – they do not want to litigate with the Inland Revenue if they can possibly avoid it.
On the more contentious side, or what may be considered the more commercial chancery practice, David Oliver QC at Thirteen Old Square "definitely comes in the top half dozen of chancery advocates", and Michael Lyndon-Stanford QC at the same set is "slightly unorthodox but can be very effective". Patrick Talbot QC, also at Thirteen Old Square who made his name in trusts-type work, is now doing more litigious chancery work.
Charles Aldous QC at 7 Stone Buildings is also "highly regarded".
At 3-4 South Square, there is more of an emphasis on liquidation and insolvency work. Michael Crystal QC "has a wonderful reputation," and, say solicitors, he is in great demand.
Gabriel Moss QC at the same set is also rated highly.
David Unwin QC at 7 Stone Buildings is said to be one of the brightest of the chancery barristers, "head and shoulders above the pack, with an absolutely daunting intellect, and a phenomenal grasp of the most complex issues which he is able to explain to clients in simple terms".
Named as one of the up and coming stars is Anthony Trace at Thirteen Old Square, while the slightly more junior Richard Hacker at 3-4 South Square, is considered "a real star".
Anthony Mann QC at Enterprise Chambers, headed by Benjamin Levy, is "friendly, bright and positive, with a good attitude". At Charles Sparrow's set at Thirteen Old Square, Frank Hinks is a senior-junior regarded very highly on trusts, and Elizabeth Jones is "careful and assiduous, slightly aggressive and is very good".
Where solicitors are dealing with traditional corporate practice or the corporate side of banking and commercial law, they tend to instruct a number of barristers who seldom have to appear in court.
Head of Erskine Chambers Richard Sykes QC is very rarely in court but "what he says is the law, is, very often, the law". Robin Potts QC and David Chivers of the same set are also often referred to.
Of the modern breed of barristers, instructed for example in cases involving fraud, Nigel Davis QC is "first class" and Guy Newey has impressed.
And at 4 Stone Buildings, headed by Peter Curry QC, names to watch include Anthony George Bompas QC and Malcolm Davis-White, as well as two Maxwell litigators John Brisby and Jonathan Crow.
Susannah Meadway at 8 Stone Buildings is another junior to keep an eye on.
Other barristers rated highly include Daniel Hochberg at 9 Old Square, and Leslie Michaelson at Enterprise Chambers.
At 17 Old Buildings, those regularly used and rated highly are John Child, Andrew Lloyd-Davies and Alexandra Mason.
On the chancery side of intellectual property work, Simon Thorley QC at 3 New Square is considered to be the leading QC, and the leading juniors are Andrew Waugh at the same set and Henry Carr at 11 South Square.
In the more esoteric area of charities, as well as chancery, Robert Venables QC at 24 Old Buildings is "practical, experienced and good for a bullish opinion".
Hubert Picarda QC at 10 Old Square is the "doyen of charity lawyers, who is always looked to for the definitive response".