Merger for 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square is “not a rescue” says chambers head

The head of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square Timothy Straker QC said a merger between his chambers and public law set Atlas Chambers is not a “rescue” deal.

The tie-up will see Atlas director John Lister and a team of eight barristers boost the depleted ranks of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square. The emphasis will be on remote working and passing lower costs on to instructing solicitors, Straker said.

4-5 Gray’s Inn Square has been hit by a number of departures, including the exit of senior clerk Michael Kaplan and his team of Richard Bulaitis, Anthony King and Daniel Perry, to join 39 Essex Street last month (21 January 2013). That came after a team of 24 barristers, including seven silks, also made the move to 39 Essex Street (28 November 2012).

Straker said the merger was “initiated by mutual consent” and sealed within a matter of weeks.

He said: “It’s not right to describe it as a rescue merger. It’s part and parcel of trying to create an asset and what we regard to be a very good sized set of chambers.”

Straker said the set would have been able to continue with or without the significant exits over the last few months and said the tie-up with Atlas showed it could “recruit very effectively”.

He said: “The noticeable difference will be that we’ll have more people who come into chambers from time to time, but who don’t have rooms in chambers.

“Now, with remote working and people based out of London, there’s less demand on accommodation, the advantage being that we can lower the cost for instructing solicitors.”

Strakey said the new-look chambers will be about two thirds of the size it was before the mass walk-out, but with a 50 per cent reduction in overheads making it “far more economical”.

He denied that his hand had been forced into the merger, saying it was simply about “taking advantage of an opportunity”.

He added: “It’s a matter of getting to the size we want to be, not of steadying the ship. It’s an opportunity to create something better than what was there previously – without diminishing what was there before.”

Lister will become chambers director and senior clerk, working alongside acting senior clerk Stephen Broom.

Associated outfit Atlas Tax Chambers will be run as an independent entity headed by barrister Keith Gordon.