A group of barristers from Outer Temple Chambers is to launch a standalone company targeted at capturing international work and laying the foundations for the set’s post-Legal Services Act (LSA) ambitions.
Members of the set approved plans for the creation of Outer Temple International (OTI) last autumn in a move that could revolutionise how barristers are instructed in the post-LSA environment.
The new business will have its own board of directors, which will comprise four silks, including the set’s head of strategic development Richard Lissack QC. It will go live in the coming weeks.
Lissack told The Lawyer: “It will be a creature of Outer Temple with its secretariat and administration within chambers, with [senior team leader] Chris Gittins leading the team clerking the international work.”
Initially shares in the business will only be available to Outer Temple members, who will be restricted to one share each.
In the first year of trading OTI will operate on a not-for-profit basis, said Lissack, but as the company grows shareholders could expect to receive dividend payments.
The company has been designed specifically to target international matters and will work on a pilot basis for the next six to 12 months while the set assesses how it should operate.
“I envisage it will grow quite significantly and we’ll review all the arrangements in six to 12 months’ time,” said Lissack.
Bar regulators are currently consulting on how the profession should be governed after the implementation of the LSA and whether alternative business structures should operate in the sector.
While the new business will be focused solely on generating international work, Lissack said the OTI structure could be used on a domestic level when regulations allow.
“The creation of OTI is innovative – it’s both permissible under the current regulations and an excellent road test for how a CPV [corporate procurement vehicle] may work domestically under the fast-arriving changes,” he explained.
One option for the future of OTI is to source international work for non-Outer Temple members in return for a fee. In the long term the set could consider putting in place a panel of barristers for which the company would work.
Another possibility is to allow barristers outside the set to become share-holders, a step that could ultimately lead to a stock market listing.