39 Essex Street’s head steps down

Nigel Pleming QC is stepping down as head of 39 Essex Street Chambers after three years, to be replaced by Richard Davies QC and Richard Wilmot-Smith QC.


The normal tenure for chambers heads is three years and Pleming, who has seen through significant changes at the set, is keen to focus more on his own practice which, in line with the chambers’ policy, is growing internationally.

During his leadership, the set has increased from 35 to 57 tenants and has focused on developing beyond civil work and towards commercial. It has also consolidated its position as a chambers of choice for advice and advocacy among law firms in the Far East, the Caymans and the Middle East.

The management of the set has also matured. Pleming said: “We now have more structured meetings, including an annual general meeting, and decisions are made by a select committee rather than ad hoc.”

Pleming added: “The job [of head] is very onerous and I’ve found my practice has become more and more intensive. I’ve found myself having to break off from preparation for high-profile cases to manage chambers. Being head adds another two or three hours of work to each day.”