13 Old Square poaches six in aggressive recruitment drive

Top Chancery chambers 13 Old Square has chosen the traditionally quiet summer break to raid three neighbouring sets of its junior tenants to appoint six new barristers.

The move by 13 Old Square, the chambers of Michael Lyndon-Stanford QC, coincides with a similar poaching spree by Birmingham's 5 Fountain Court, and has prompted one senior clerk to compare the movement of tenants to the football transfer market.

The set said it received “dozens” of replies after a press recruitment campaign in July and has now taken on six juniors and two new pupils.

Senior clerk John Moore confirmed that James Aldridge and Jonathan Russen from 1 New Square, Nigel Thomas from 11 Stone Buildings and Gregory Banner from 5 New Square were joining the set.

Two other barristers are joining later this month but their names are still under wraps.

Moore said the silk-heavy chambers had decided to expand into new practice areas necessitating taking on more junior barristers.

Meanwhile in Birmingham, 5 Fountain Court, the largest chambers in the UK, has poached experienced family barristers Robin Rowland, Rosalind Bush and Caroline Baker from neighbouring One Fountain Court, which declined to comment on their move.

Their defection will see the set's 14-strong family practice become one of the largest outside London.

Rowland, called to the Bar in 1977, said his decision to move was a commercial one, with he and his two colleagues believing large practice groups were the way forward.

“We are comfortable with it because we think it is right for us,” he said.

Moore said barristers now put economic viability over old-fashioned loyalty when deciding if they should switch sets.

Both Moore and 5 Fountain Court practice director Tony McDaid are unapologetic about the new style of aggressive recruiting, and warn their sets plan to continue to cherry pick talent at the bar.

Barristers switching sets was rare and frowned upon only five years ago, but now an increasing number of juniors and even some QCs are prepared to change sets to improve their practices.