Chris Fogarty reports
Fountain Court Chambers senior clerk Barry Down is planning to leave the leading commercial set.
His departure is yet to be confirmed, but The Lawyer understands that he is still in discussions with the set and it is expected that he will leave the chambers on an amicable basis.
Down could not be contacted for comment last week, when callers to the set were being told the senior clerk was "away" until later in the month.
A spokesman for head of chambers Peter Scott QC would say only that Fountain Court was planning improvements in its internal organisation but did not want to comment publicly until its clients were informed.
Down's reasons for wanting to leave are unclear, but the set has been undergoing a number of changes to revamp its structure. It is believed that he was unhappy about the direction it was going in.
Down's planned exit has shocked other clerks and was unexpected within the Bar.
Just before Christmas, Fountain Court's newly appointed public relations company, Fishburn Hedges, was introducing him to journalists as an integral part of the set.
Meanwhile, fellow senior clerks have been praising Down, saying he had helped to run an extremely successful chambers. "He is an extremely experienced and well-respected member of the institute," said Institute of Barristers Clerks chair Stephen Graham.
Down started his legal career at London firm Barlow Lyde & Gilbert as a solicitor's clerk before moving to the Bar where he started out as a junior clerk at 12 King's Bench Walk. He moved to Fountain Court as a senior clerk around eight years ago.
Colleagues say his experience will make him an attractive employment proposition if he decides to remain within the Inns of Court.