Clerks take business lessons

Commercial chambers One Essex Court has become the first set to introduce professional training in business development for its clerks.

The set has employed Haines Consulting, an organisation that specialises in teaching business strategy.

Haines Consulting has already undertaken similar exercises with 33 of the top 100 firms of solicitors.

“I thought they [solicitors] were entrenched, but barristers chambers are stuck in the dark ages,” says proprietor Richard Haines.

He says responsibility for bringing in work falls on the clerks, partly because the barristers are not interested in marketing themselves.

“There are very, very few barristers who believe business development is their responsibility,” he says.

At a recent presentation to the management committee of a prominent set of chambers, Haines says, one barrister described the methodology as, “repulsive, but necessary”.

Despite this, Haines says clerks still make very little proactive effort to encourage new business, relying on clients to contact them.

“To the best of my knowledge this is the first chambers to undertake professional training in professional development,” says One Essex Court senior clerk Paul Shrubsall.