Fountain Ct senior clerk defects to 11 Stone Bldgs

Fountain Court’s joint senior clerk Michael Couling is set to become 11 Stone Buildings’ first chambers director.

The news comes just a week after Martin Smith dramatically resigned as Blackstone Chambers’ senior clerk. The two exits have been seen by some as signalling a massive shake-up in the management of the bar.

Couling’s departure means senior clerk Mark Watson is alone at the clerking helm and, as the set’s head of chambers Michael Brindle QC explained, this could lead to changes.

“We didn’t know about Michael’s move until recently, so for chambers it was sudden, but we’re not upset about that,” said Brindle. “We now need to decide what we’re to do as a result and what will be best for our future.”

Brindle added that although Couling’s departure was sudden, it was amicable. He said: “It was Michael’s initiative to leave, as he wanted to try out pastures new and we wish him well.”

Couling, who is set to leave Fountain Court on 21 December and take up his post at 11 Stone Buildings on 28 January, will effectively replace the set’s former senior clerk Chris Berry, who retired from chambers earlier this year.

Couling said it had been an honour to serve with Fountain Court, but added: “The opportunity to augment the excellent team at 11 Stone Buildings and to build on an already successful platform simply proved irresistible.”