Herbert Smith is set to press ahead with radical plans to launch its own set of chambers after hiring a top QC.
The Lawyer understands that the City firm has appointed leading commercial chancery silk Murray Rosen QC of 11 Stone Buildings to establish and grow its in-house advocacy unit within the litigation department. It is believed that Rosen will be joined at Herbert Smith by a second silk.
The plan, first revealed by The Lawyer (22 September 2003), is the brainchild of David Gold, who stepped down as head of Herbert Smith’s litigation practice last year after being voted in as senior partner.
Rosen already has a close relationship with the firm and has worked with it on a number of high-profile cases, including advising the Securities and Exchange Commission on whether it and two Cypriots have the right to millions in defrauded money.
The firm does not intend to stop using any barristers of the chambers it currently has relationships with, but is hoping to use its own barristers to provide clients with a more seamless service.
One source at a rival City firm said: “Gold is doing what he said he was going to do and I’m sure Herbert Smith will make a success of it.”
However, the source added: “It’s difficult for me to see that a ringfenced advocacy team makes sense. My own view is that more solicitors should try to do their own advocacy, as is the case in the US.”
It is understood that the chambers will be based at Herbert Smith’s existing conference facility in 5 Bell Yard, but the barristers will be encouraged to work out of the firm’s main Broadgate offices.
Herbert Smith declined to comment.
Edward Cohen, the head of 11 Stone Buildings, said: “For over 25 years Murray has been an integral part of the development, expansion and success of 11 Stone Buildings. We thank him for his contribution.”