Exchange in drive to double Manchester barristers

Exchange Chambers is gearing up to double the size of its Manchester arm to make it one of the the largest in the North, rivalling St Philips and No5 Chambers.

To drive forward the expansion the set has recruited Nick Buckley, chambers director of Manchester-based set Lincoln House, who will work closely with Exchange director Tom Handley.

The 96-barrister set plans to increase its size in Manchester from 35 to 75 in the next two to three years.

Exchange’s turnover increased by 14 per cent, from £14.3m last year to £16.3m in 2006-07.

The growth came despite the squeeze on legal aid fees for publicly funded work, which makes up 50 per cent of the chambers’ work.

Handley said the set was “delighted” with its progress in the last 12 months “considering the downward pressure on criminal fees”.

“This expansion will be achieved organically – we have no plans to merge,” added Handley. “Nick will play a key role to ensure that we expand in Manchester.”

Buckley said: “The bar’s changing. Only the strongest sets, with strong leadership, direction and purpose, will continue to prosper.”

The news comes just months after the chambers launched a dedicated mediation service (The Lawyer, 19 March 2007), which now has 30 qualified mediators.