Two leading chancery/commercial sets have become the latest to opt for merger in a bid to join the commercial bar's elite.
The amalgamation of 13 Old Square and 7 Stone Buildings will create a 42-tenant set, including 10 silks, that will be run by the current heads of the two chambers, Michael Lyndon-Stanford QC and Charles Aldous QC respectively.
While 7 Stone Buildings has made only one lateral hire in the past 10 years, 13 Old Square went on a major recruitment drive in 1997 and further expansion is already planned for the future.
"We don't see this merger as the end. When we've bedded down we'll be looking to expand again," says Lyndon-Stanford. The combined turnover of the two sets will be in excess of £8m.
Aldous, one of the most highly rated and highly paid barristers at the bar with earnings (gross receipts) estimated at between £1.25m and £1.5m a year, says: "This move makes sense on many levels. First of all it allows us to achieve a critical mass and market position which would take years for either of the sets to achieve through organic growth.
"Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the skill sets of the two chambers are complementary, both in terms of the mix of work done and in terms of the calibre of barristers doing that work."
It is expected that the new set, for which a name is yet to be decided, will be fully operational before the end of the year.
A chief executive is to be recruited shortly, whose initial task will be to ensure the logistics of the merger are implemented smoothly.
The roles of senior and junior clerk will become redundant in the merged set.
Clerks Tony Marsh and Jim Bisland have accepted new pure clerking roles, while John Moore, the present senior clerk at 13 Old Square, is on gardening leave but has been encouraged to apply for the chief executive's position.