Top chambers are poaching highly rated practitioners from smaller sets in a bid to expand their practices.
In London, Littleton Chambers has poached Andrew Stafford, a leading employment barrister who is joining from John Powell QC's 2 Crown Office Row.
The set has also appointed Professor Jean-Yves de Cara – an international human rights expert and former referendaire to Lord Slynn at the European Court of Justice. Senior clerk David Douglas says the set is looking for international human rights senior practitioners ahead of the introduction of the Human Rights Act next year.
Francis Taylor Building, Barnard's Inn, 2 King's Bench Walk, 4 Essex Court, Old Square Chambers and 39 Essex Street are among the names advertising for practitioners of more than seven years' experience.
“People of that many years' call can give you a quick boost,” says Colin Mackay QC of 39 Essex Street.
“I think there's a comfort in size. The under-20 person set is now regarded as more vulnerable than it used to be. In the common law field, I don't see how a set much under 30 can compete effectively,” says Mackay.
This month, three One Pump Court tenants joined the family team at 4 Brick Court – the chambers of Antony Shaw QC. In October, three housing specialists moved to Doughty Street Chambers.
However, 1 Pump Court has also recruited 10 more tenants – bringing its contingent to 43.
More than 25 barristers have swapped their allegiances in the past four weeks and many more moves are expected in the coming months after this week's announcement of the year's silks list.