Crystal chambers abandons its chief executive 'experiment'

The chambers of Michael Crystal QC at 3-4 South Square has decided to scrap the post of chief executive, which has been held for two years by solicitor David Hatchard.

Hatchard will leave the commercial set on 1 April in a move which senior clerk Neil Atkin described as being by "mutual agreement".

A former senior commercial litigation lawyer at international firm Clifford Chance, Hatchard joined the 34-tenant set to head its management and marketing following an administrative overhaul.

The set now appears to have reverted to its former structure.

Atkin said the chambers was still reorganising its structures, but confirmed that he, and fellow senior clerk Jason Pithers, would be taking over the running of the set.

Atkin was reluctant to discuss in depth the reasons behind South Square's decision to return to a traditional clerking system and ditch its pioneering chief executive role. "I think it was an experiment that perhaps wasn't carefully considered at the outset," he said.

Hatchard was unavailable for comment.

The decision is likely to intensify debate within the Bar over the best administrative make-up of chambers.

The chambers joins several others that have dispensed with practice managers or chief executives, including 5 Fountain Court in Birmingham. Last year, Laura Cox QC, head of chambers at Cloisters chambers, said sets run on traditional lines could still thrive.

Other chambers boast practice managers, such as Christine Kings of Doughty Street and Peter Bennett of One KBW, who are recognised for their significant contribution to the success of their sets.