Top Birmingham sets in manager showdown

John Malpas reports

TWO leading Birmingham sets have lost their senior managers – one after a contractual dispute, the other following reports of a vote of no confidence among barristers.

Former 3 Fountain Court senior clerk Malcolm Elder is instructing solicitors following his abrupt departure last month from the set he joined in 1987.

His resignation is understood to have come hard on the heels of a vote of no confidence cast among the barristers at his set, although the chambers refused to comment on the matter.

Elder is chair of the Birmingham branch of the Institute of Barristers' Clerks and had been voted onto the national management committee on the day he left the set.

Elder says: "I did not want to leave and I'm very upset that I did. I had worked very hard to promote their position in the market place and did everything to help their cause."

Head of Chambers at 3 Fountain Court Colman Treacy QC says a dispute with the senior clerk led to the chambers accepting his resignation.

Neighbouring 5 Fountain Court has also parted company with its administrative manager.

Practice director David Symonds left the set following a contract dispute. Symonds moved to the set from Devereux Chambers in 1991 with a brief to market the chambers.

He oversaw the set's division into nine specialist sections and its growth from 40 tenants to around 60 when he left.

"I am very sorry to leave when we were making such rapid progress," he says.

At 5 Fountain Court, Harry Woolton QC has stepped down as head of chambers to take up the honorary position as chair of the set's limited company. Anthony Barker QC, his successor, put Symonds' departure down to a contractual dispute. The set is now looking for a senior practice manager.