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The merger between chancery sets 11 New Square and 11 Old Square in June this year saw another stage in the continued consolidation of the Bar. The combined set, Radcliffe Chambers, is the fourth-largest chancery set by size, with 46 tenants, and is aiming to grow in size and reputation over the next few years.
Hedley Marten, who was previously head of chambers at 11 New Square and is now joint head of Radcliffe, says: "The numbers game meant it made a great deal of sense to both sets to merge. The effect of the merger has been to increase our solicitor base substantially."
For 11 Old Square, the merger meant that there was more access to senior barristers. Chambers head Malcolm Waters QC, who now shares the Radcliffe leadership with Marten, comments: "We had particular strength at the junior end. I think the union between the two sets does have an intrinsic advantage with regard to getting an even spread of talent."
Despite their similar names, 11 New and 11 Old Square chose to depart from the address-based tradition of naming the enlarged chambers. Marten explains that "we wanted to have a brand name, rather than numbers around New Square".
When Marten joined what used to be 3 New Square at the beginning of his career, the set was still very much associated with its former head Sir Cyril Radcliffe KC, who was appointed as a Law Lord directly from the bar. Radcliffe's name and reputation were felt to be ideal for the new set.
The members of Radcliffe Chambers are, however, still working from 11 New and 11 Old Square, with both buildings now refurbished. The set's clerking team, led by Keith Nagle and John Clark, sits in one room and the administration team, comprising chief executive Chris Owen, director of client care and marketing Catherine Calder and administrator Isobel Gurrie, are also in a single location.
Radcliffe's barristers have moved around so that practice teams are close to each other. The set's focus on chancery work means that it has particular expertise in banking, charities, insolvency, pensions and similar areas. Instructions come from firms as diverse as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Lincoln's Inn firm Edwin Coe and offshore firm Appleby Hunter Bailhache.
Owen says that international work in particular is booming since the merger. "There has been an increase already in instructions coming in on that front," he says.
Marten, Waters and Owen say that signs are good for the future, with the set's integration going well and instructions coming in from old and new clients alike.
"We want to be number one, and not just in size," says Owen with confidence.
Radcliffe Chambers Head of chambers: Hedley Marten and Malcolm Waters QC Senior clerk: Keith Nagle and John Clark Chief executive: Chris Owen Total tenants (silks): 46 (6) Total staff: 10 Key clients: Appleby Hunter Bailhache, Allen and Overy, Edwin Coe, Eversheds, Farrer & Co, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters Recent cases: Farren v Abbeyfield