Poaching war continues as set takes on top two

James Hunt QC's chambers, 36 Bedford Row, is continuing its expansion by pulling aboard a family silk and a high profile criminal specialist.

Family specialist Heather Swindells QC joins from Ropewalk Chambers in Nottingham while criminal lawyer Anesta Weekes joins from Cloisters.

Swindells is chair of the East Midlands Business and Property Bar Association and the region's Family Law Association. She is the second barrister to have been enticed away from Ropewalk in the past two months. Catherine Fisher left to join Merchant Chambers in Manchester in mid-December.

Weekes is junior counsel on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. She was also a member of a Bar team which visited South Africa recently to teach advocacy skills and is consulted by the Home Office on legal aspects of governance in the Caribbean.

The move is part of a growing trend for inter-chambers poaching. Peter Bennett, 36 Bedford Row's practice manager, said the chambers did not advertise the posts. Instead, 'invitations were offered and they accepted them'.

The 55-member set among the top 10 biggest chambers specialises in criminal and family law although it is broadening its repertoire. It opened an annexe in Leicester last summer in addition to its existing Northampton base, and branched out into commercial work by taking on David Altaras from 1 Sergeant's Inn.

Bennett said his chambers' philosophy was to have a broad base of different specialisms and that it would only 'take people of the highest calibre'.

Hunt said the two additions to his team 'each have an outstanding reputation in their respective fields'.

'They are important additions to our strategy of being a multi-team chambers,' he said.