7 Bedford Row head quits post to join bench

Civil and criminal set 7 Bedford Row has elected a new head of chambers after incumbent Kate Thirlwall QC left to join the bench.

Kate Thirlwall
Kate Thirlwall

Thirlwall was elected as head of chambers in November 2006, succeeding David Farrer QC. She was the set’s first female head of chambers and one of the first at the bar.

She will be sworn in as a High Court judge later this month, at which time clinical ­negligence barrister Simeon Maskrey QC will succeed her at the set.

Thirlwall said: “I’ve been at the bar for 28 years and a recorder for more than 10 years. This is a great ­opportunity to do something new. It’s a great privilege.”

During Thirlwall’s three years as head of chambers 7 Bedford Row saw a succession of chief executives. Most recently the set brought on board former Reed Smith director of European and Middle East operations Fay Gillot to replace Peter Rouse, who in June joined Bar Select, an online service that aims to help clients to source barristers.

“We’re fantastically busy and we’ve recruited some good people,” ­Thirlwall commented.

The most daunting thing about joining the bench, she added, was that she will be in the spotlight.

“It will be very different [from the bar] because I’ll be making the decisions rather than seeking to ­persuade as an advocate does,” she said. “I’ll be ­making decisions on my own rather than as a part of a team.”

Last week (24 March) the Ministry of Justice announ-ced that it would review the judicial appointments process as part of an ongoing efficiency programme.