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National chambers St Johns Buildings has elected family silk Sally Harrison QC as head of chambers, following the appointment of Anthony Hayden QC to the High Court’s family division.
Harrison, who took silk in 2010, said she was excited to have the opportunity to explore a new strategic vision for the chambers and that given the threats to legal aid, “we can’t shut our eyes to any opportunities”.
As head of chambers Harrison will chair the management committee and oversee all decisions made at that level.
Harrison said: “We have to grapple with the fact that there might be chances to join forces with non-lawyers and decide whether we are going to do more fixed-fee or direct access work”.
On the subject of the new legal aid contracts she said: “If the opportunity presents itself we will try to get the franchise if that’s in the criminal legal aid practitioners’ interests. At the moment, given the threats that there are to the legal aid, I think we have to be alive to all of it.”
Harrison wished Mr Justice Hayden well in his judicial career and thanked him for his efforts in building up the set.
St Johns Buildings’ three-way merger with Sheffield’s Paradise Chambers and Liverpool-based India Buildings Chambers was designed to target publicly-funded work as the legal aid cuts took hold (12 January 2011).
Harrison also said that although historically the chambers has offered two pupillages, now that it has more sites to cover it may be in a position to offer more and will look at each department to see if there is a need.