Leader

So the bar doesn't want Tony Blair. Well, it's just a shame they didn't get out to vote then, isn't it, because he's back. But the reasons for the overwhelming rejection of a hypothetical tenancy application to the UK's top 20 sets from our Prime Minister might actually have less to do with politics and a conservative bar than most people think (although political leanings did clearly influence a number of those who contributed to the poll).`After all, having been MP for Sedgefield since 1983, Blair has not been in full-time practice for almost 20 years so he would be building from scratch. And his practice was predominantly employment – an area that doesn't sit easily with the majority of leading sets which concentrate on heavyweight commercial work.`The track record of lawyers who have enjoyed high-profile political careers and then returned to the bar is also mixed.`Perhaps part of the reason is that, on the whole, the bar's superstars do not go into politics in the first place. After all, if you managed to earn a tenancy in a top set and quickly saw your salary rocket into the stratosphere, would you give it all up for an MP's £49,822 annual salary?`That is not to say that politics and the law are incompatible, far from it. After all, there were about 100 practising barristers sitting in the last Parliament. To generalise massively, these tend to be criminal and general common law practitioners who don't earn anything like as much as their commercial peers. Their practices are generally far less paper-based and, certainly in the criminal field, require less preparation, so evening trips to the House of Commons can be combined with days spent at the Old Bailey.`But for those that would jump at the chance of having Tony Blair in their chambers the opportunities are obvious – he would certainly have an ability to bring in business, particularly from the US.`One leading practitioner views the split in opinion as being between the new bar-ites and the traditionalists. “Could a chambers possibly hope for better marketing? His ability as a lawyer is not even going to be a consideration,” said our modernising Blairite.`Perhaps a more tricky question is this: any takers for Derry Irvine?