Leading senior clerk quits chambers

Chris Fogarty reports

Chancery set 9 Old Square chambers has parted company with senior clerk Martin Poulter. Head of chambers Robert Reid QC confirmed that Poulter left the chambers last month, but would not comment on the reason for his departure.

"That's not a matter for discussion, it's between us and Martin Poulter," stated Reid.

It is understood, however, that a difference of opinion over policy between senior barristers at the chambers and Poulter prompted his move.

Reid said it was unlikely the chambers would advertise for a replacement, although it had yet to decide whether to promote someone internally or look outside for a successor.

The chambers is also undecided over whether to appoint a practice manager to head the chambers' administration.

Reid made it clear he saw little difference in the roles of practice managers and senior clerks. "There is nothing magic about the words," he said.

Stephen Graham, chair of the Institute of Barristers' Clerks, was "surprised and concerned" about Poulter's departure.

He added that Poulter had made a highly valued contribution to the IBC as a member of its management committee and was a well-respected member of the organisation.

Poulter's departure marks the latest of a series of shake-ups at chambers around the country, as debates rage over how best to run the sets.

On 16 June, Fountain Court's head of chambers Peter Scott QC will reveal why his set chose to replace its longstanding senior clerk Barry Down with a chambers director, former Masons partnership director Ric Martin.

Scott will make the disclosure when he addresses the Leadership and Management Issues for Chambers seminar at the Middle Temple in London.

Chaired by Anthony Wells, chief executive of Hardwicke Building, and organised by The Lawyer, the three-hour seminar will feature a talk by 2 Hare Court practice manager Julia Hornor, who will look at how clerks, barristers and executive managers can work together.

David Goddard, senior clerk at 4 Stone Buildings, will provide the clerk's perspective and Herbert Smith litigation partner David Gold will put forward the outsider's point of view.