London set 39 Essex Street has revealed turnover for the first time in two years, posting revenues of £48.3m.
The set expanded rapidly in the last financial year taking in 24 new members from 4-5 Gray’s Inn (24 November 2013) as well as a team of four clerks (21 January 2013). Chambers is now home to 124 members, including 39 silks compared with 94 members, including 31 silks, a year ago.
Chief executive David Barnes said the revenue figures included a full year’s billing for those 24 members joining from 4-5 Gray’s Inn.
Revenues for the set last year were estimated by The Lawyer to be at £40.5m after a decision by the executive not to be transparent. The set has now reversed the stance, giving it a 19 per cent increase over the last 12 months.
Revenue per barrister for 2012/13 stood at £389,443, compared with an estimated £431,000 a year ago. However, taking into consideration that the set has eight door tenants, revenue per barrister for the 116 full time members stands at £416,301. The decrease comes as a result of increased barrister numbers at the set.
Despite the rapid growth Barnes said the set had reviewed its strategy over the last year. “We’ve taken a year out to re-evaluate our plans in terms of what we’re doing,” he said. “I think there are difficult challenges for the bar, but there are still huge opportunities. Six or seven years ago we were ranked around 17 or 18 [in The Lawyer Bar Top 30], now we expect to be in the top five this year.”
Barnes said the set was balancing demands from domestic clients with an increased demand from overseas. The set opened in Singapore at the beginning of the financial year ( 26 June 2012) and installed barrister Roderick Noble in the office as director of Asian business.
Barnes said that with 124 barristers the set was able to put together teams quickly to react to changing demands chambers has the capacity to manage low value volume claims, he added, while also having silks involved with high-profile matters.
Last summer former 39 Essex Street head Robert Jay QC became known nationally for acting as counsel to the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the media. Jay has since been promoted to the High Court bench (8 May 2013).