Liverpool set merger spawns power player

The fifth biggest set of chambers in the country is to be created in Liverpool and will be based in premises currently housing a pub and a lap-dancing bar.

The new set, 7 Harrington Street, is the product of the long-planned merger between two of Liverpool's premier sets, Martin's Building and The Corn Exchange.

It will have 65 tenants, by far the largest chambers on the northern circuit, and will mean three out of the top five chambers in the country, by size, come from the provinces.

The chambers will open on 1 September on a city centre site currently occupied by a pub with exotic dancers.

“Yes, it is a lap-dancing bar, but it is near the court,” says Martin's Building's senior clerk John Kilgallon.

Robert Fordham QC, currently head of Martin's Building, says: “The thinking was two-fold. The Bar is under threat, and the way of coping with that was either to be very small and specialised or, alternatively, as a large set offering all the specialist services.”

Aside from chancery work, the new set will cover all practice areas. The sheer size of it has meant its future heads – Fordham plus David Steer QC and Iain Goldrein QC, joint heads of The Corn Exchange – have faced administrative and management problems.

Barristers will be grouped by practice area and will be administered by a pyramid-shaped clerking structure. Kilgallon will head up the clerking team under the new title of practice director.

Alex Keith, senior clerk at The Corn Exchange will head up the criminal clerking team.

Tenants of both sets have become the shareholders of a new company, Keyventure, set up to buy the new premises.