St Philips, Fountain Court set to merge

Birmingham sets St Philips Chambers and No 1 Fountain Court last week voted overwhelmingly in favour of a merger, which will form the largest set of chambers in the country. The successful vote also confirms St Philips’ commitment to a multidisciplinary civil and criminal practice and a future of professional management under a chief executive officer, currently Paul Wilson, and a management committee consisting of only three barristers.
The merged set will boast 140 tenants, made up principally of three teams: civil commercial, crime and family. Combined turnover will push £14m, with St Philips contributing £11.5m, according to The Lawyer’s Bar Top 30, with No 1 Fountain Court’s turnover estimated at between £3m-£4m.
The addition of No 1 Fountain Court’s highly-rated criminal practice gives the criminal team critical mass with five silks and 53 juniors. The group’s five-year strategy for crime is to target top-end criminal work within a 50-mile radius of Birmingham.
St Philips’ 60-strong civil commercial team is also targeting the Birmingham area. It is already rated as the leading Birmingham-based commercial practice, but still receives instructions on only 20 per cent of the city’s available commercial work, with the majority still migrating to London sets.
Family is the smallest team with just 20 barristers, but it is considering strategies for growth.
The set already has a flexible chambers contribution system, which includes five different room rates, to accommodate the disparity in earnings and practice requirements of its tenants. Contributions are believed to range between 12-18 per cent of barristers’ earnings. The merger will enable the set to significantly cut running costs and will provide as much as £500,000 in fresh capital, the combined investment cost to each new tenant joining St Philips from No 1 Fountain Court.
The merger will be effective from 1 October.