Inns, outs and firm offers

An increasing number of barristers are jumping ship to private practice

A decade ago it would have been almost unthinkable for an established silk to leave his beloved chambers for the corporate reality of private practice. How times have changed.

 Last week, Herbert Smith Freehills marked a new era of growth for its advocacy unit with the hire of Maitland Chambers’ Tom Leech QC.

The path between bar and private practice has widened considerably since legacy Herbies hired former 11 Stone Buildings member Murray Rosen QC and Littleton Chambers’ Ian Gatt QC to launch the group back in 2005.

While its rivals may not have taken steps to formally launch advocacy practices, having a silk on board seems attractive. Farrer & Co hired former 1 Hare Court silk Jeremy Posnansky QC in 2007. He was instructed in the highest profile divorce case of 2014, acting for Yasmin Prest in her Supreme Court battle with her ex-husband, Michael.

US firms in London are also fans of advocate partners.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan took Sue Prevezer QC from Bingham in 2008. She had previously been a member of Essex Court Chambers. The former Lord Chancellor, Charles Falconer QC, joined Gibson Dunn in the same year, while Debevoise & Plimpton installed Peter Goldsmith QC to chair its European and Asia disputes group.

Litigation boutiques have also seen barristers as offering a competitive advantage. Kobre & Kim, for example, hired James Corbett QC as partner from Serle Court, followed by Jalil Asif QC of 4 New Square, and Andrew Stafford QC from Littleton.

Hage Aaronson, meanwhile, was established with the aim of providing a firm where lawyers and silks could work in harmony.

It is by no means the norm, but the flow of barristers from bar to private practice is gathering pace.