Cloisters Chambers in management review

Cloisters Chambers, a major employment set with 43 tenants, is understood to be appointing a management consultant to review the way that it is run.

The situation of Cloisters senior clerk Michael Martin, who has been absent from chambers for some time, remains unresolved. He is currently on extended leave and is taking legal advice.

The management review is the latest in a wave of restructuring at the Bar as chambers look to develop along corporate lines.

Recent restructuring of sets has tended to involve the appointment of a chambers director to oversee business development.

But according to sources, one set is placing the entire administration team on short-term contracts. If that happens, clerks will be told to reapply for their posts.

One senior clerk at another set believes that fixed term contracts could well prove to be a future trend. Two of his juniors are already on three-year contracts.

He says that the increased mobility of barristers will soon be true of clerks as well and fixed-term contracts can provide security for both chambers and clerks.

Chambers can plan longer term strategies when they know they have key staff in place for a set period, while clerks have job security and a potentially lucrative loyalty bonus, also known as “golden handcuffs”, if they complete their term, says the source.

The number of senior clerks quitting chambers is increasing. Jason Pithers, senior clerk at leading commercial set 3/4 South Square, has become the seventh to leave since December.

Pithers says the decision was taken for purely personal reasons and he is looking to pursue an alternative career in the US.

He says his departure has been “wholly amicable” and he will stay until a replacement is found, although it is not yet clear whether the set will be looking to recruit a chambers director or a new senior clerk.

See analysis, page 11