Chris Fogarty reports
FOUNTAIN Court chambers is the latest of a small band of sets that have turned to public relations firms in a bid to promote themselves to solicitors and the wider public.
The leading commercial set has just signed up Fishburn Hedges to handle its publicity for a trial period.
Fountain Court joins two other London chambers The Lawyer knows to be using PR agencies – Cloisters and 36 Bedford Row – which have both turned to Westminster Strategy for advice on their public relations.
Barry Down, senior clerk at Fountain Court, said: "We have been making efforts to promote ourselves to our clients, and we see the hiring of a PR agency as an extension of this.
"We want to have a good relationship with the press and media and have been impressed with Fishburns' contacts."
The set 36 Bedford Row invited three PR agencies to tender for its business when it decided to seek outside help for the publicity surrounding its move out of the Inns of Court.
Practice manager Peter Bennett said Westminster Strategy had proved by far the best value as it was willing to offer advice when it was needed on an ad hoc basis and had not insisted on a retainer.
He added: "It has proved to be a worthwhile arrangement."
Jon McLeod, of Westminster Strategy, which also handles public relations work for the Bar Council, said chambers were still regarded as a "green-field site" by public relations agencies.
He said barristers should not be put off by the Bar Council's own rules preventing barristers from speaking about cases they are involved in until they are concluded because there was still plenty of scope for creating publicity.
But he added: "Chambers have to understand their run-of-the-mill work is not going to be of interest. They must look to promote the unusual or unique in what they do."