Set blazes trail with member salary

Peta Sweet reports

In a move understood to be a first at the Bar, James Hunt QC's chambers at One King's Bench Walk has introduced a regular "salary" scheme for members of chambers.

The scheme, devised in conjunction with the set's bankers, Coutts & Co, currently has 15 members signed up.

It allows for fixed monthly drawings based on each member's estimated earnings over the tax year, taking into account VAT and payments due to the Inland Revenue as well as chambers.

According to practice manager Peter Bennett, the scheme is likely to grow as further members of chambers sign up.

One King's Bench Walk has also announced its expansion after a move to new premises at 36 Bedford Row and the recruitment of six new tenants, bringing the total number of tenants to 48.

The move, which officially took place last Thursday, involved a £250,000 refurbishment project, doubling the chambers' floor space. It has also resulted in a substantially expanded library and new high-tech facilities.

At the same time, the set announced plans to expand its Northampton chambers together with plans to set up new chambers elsewhere on the circuit.

Hunt said: "The move is one of a range of measures taken by the chambers in a bid to shape the way in which barristers of the future will work, as market and other regulatory pressures mount on the Bar."

The new chambers, which will continue to be known as One King's Bench Walk, houses Meridian technology for managing chambers' resources, including real-time diaries linked to automated billing and collection, video-links with solicitors, email and the Clix hook up to court diaries.

"One King's Bench Walk is implementing a forward-looking and radical set of initiatives designed to ensure that it is well-placed to meet head on the challenges facing the Bar as it approaches the end of the century," said Hunt.

The move stems from the sets' innovative use of a limited company – One King's Bench Walk Ltd – to allow the acquisition of the premises without individual members of chambers being subject to personal guarantees. The company structure has also allowed the set to introduce a profit-related pay scheme for employees.