One Essex Court sets trend with City hirings

LEADING tax chambers One Essex Court is celebrating the arrival of two top City tax solicitors. One of its most senior members has predicted that it marks the beginning of a major trend.

Last week, former Linklaters tax partner Malcolm Gammie was elected a tenant after completing a six-month pupillage.

Gammie, whose move to the Bar was reported in The Lawyer last April, joins Allen & Overy's former head of VAT and indirect tax, Michael Conlon, at the chambers.

Conlon joined the set in October last year. He did not have to undergo a pupillage because he started his career as a barrister.

Elsewhere, another Allen & Overy tax partner, William Norris, has joined Robert Reid QC's chambers at 9 Old Square, following his retirement from the firm.

Essex Court tenant Graham Aaronson QC, chair of the Revenue Bar Association, described the appointment of Conlon, Gammie and Norris to the Bar as a "natural progression". He believes it could become the norm. "A lot of people who have reached a senior position in accountancy and solicitors' firms will want to go independent so that they can become independent consultants," he said.

Aaronson said senior tax lawyers in accountancy and law firms tended to be called in by teams of lawyers from other departments to give tax advice on the deals they were handling.

He suggested that once a tax lawyer had built a sufficiently strong reputation, he or she would find it more rewarding to join the Bar, where they would not be restricted to simply advising solicitors in their firm.

Conlon, who has been replaced as head of VAT and indirect tax at Allen & Overy by his former assistant Jill Gowtage, confirmed he had reached a stage where people were asking him to give the equivalent of counsels' opinion on tax matters.

"One of the great things about the Bar is that you're able to choose your own destiny," he said.

Conlon added that he planned to expand his practice to cover commercial work.