Herbert Smith partner Dr Julian Lew QC will become the latest partner to quit a City firm for a new life at the bar, when he joins 20 Essex Street in April 2005.
Lew, one of the few solicitor-silks, plans to pursue his ambition to become a full-time arbitrator at the set. The announcement follows that of the former head of litigation at Clifford Chance, Tony Willis, moving to Brick Court Chambers last month. Other senior defectors to the bar include IP partners Alan Byrson from Clifford Chance and Anna Carboni from Linklaters, who both joined chancery-commercial set Wilberforce Chambers.
Lew’s arrival brings the number of arbitrators to 18 at 20 Essex Street, which is by far the largest collection of arbitrators at any barristers’ chambers.
Lew, who has been at Herbert Smith for a decade, is the most experienced arbitration counsel at the firm. He practices in most areas of international commercial arbitration. He leaves behind him a team of six international arbitrators in the London office.
Michael Davis, who heads Herbert Smith’s international arbitration practice from London, is introducing a scheme in which the UK team concentrates exclusively on international arbitration while working more closely with the Paris team, headed by Charles Kaplan. “I want to ensure Kaplan knows what we’re doing and vice versa,” said Davis.
Meanwhile, these key moves to the bar – alongside a series of similar ones in recent months – reflects the growing attraction of chambers for senior solicitors.
Although forsaking the many layers of administration that are part and parcel of a senior role in any City firm, crossing the profession’s divide also means losing the relative security provided by a large partnership. Taking a tenancy at the bar means being self-employed, with only yourself, and your clerk, to blame for any shortfall in income.
But for Lew, 20 Essex Street offers him the opportunity to work as a full-time arbitrator, something that would be near impossible while at a City firm because of conflicts of interest.
Anna Carboni joined Wilberforce Chambers in November 2003 from Linklaters, where she was an equity partner.
“I was not really enjoying myself at Linklaters,” said Carboni. “I wanted the independence to get back to being the problem-solver rather than managing the time of problem-solvers. Even partners who did not have management responsibilities also had to look after associates.
“So I tried to work out what I really enjoyed and discovered that the answer was juicy bits of IP litigation.” Wilberforce gave her the opportunity to do this.
“Most solicitors who join the bar tend to go to top-notch sets because they have the marketing support they’ve been used to at big City firms,” said Carboni.
She said that her workload at Wilberforce has had “peaks and troughs”. After a quiet first few months it quickly picked up, with many cases coming in from former Linklaters’ clients.
Carboni has made a number of court appearances as lead counsel and supporting a silk, including acting for Mars and a large film company at
pre-trial stage and on a number of key applications. Other work includes mediations, drafting pleadings and advisory work.
Ultimately, Carboni is doing more of the work she enjoys, and at a pace that best suits her, particularly as she is a mother of three.
Recent bar converts
- Dr Julian Lew QC: joins 20 Essex Street in April 2005 to practice in arbitration.
Paul Buckingham: joined Keating Chambers from Clifford Chance’s commercial arbitration group in September 2004. He worked as a chemical engineer at BP before he joined the magic circle firm in 1995.
- Jason Mansell: the white collar crime specialist joined Seven Bedford Row’s money-laundering, regulatory and compliance team in September 2004. He moved to the chambers from Allen & Overy’s regulatory investigations group.
- Alan Bryson: Clifford Chance’s IP partner joined Wilberforce Chambers in July 2004.
- Scott Redpath: joined Exchange Chambers in Liverpool from Clifford Chance in July 2004. He was the first pensions barrister to join the Northern Circuit.
- Anna Carboni: the Linklaters IP partner joined Wilberforce Chambers in November 2003.
- Andrew Henshaw: joined Brick Court in September 2000 from Linklaters, where he was a commercial litigator.