London set 39 Essex Street Chambers is to leave the comfort of the Inns of Court to take up residence in Chancery Lane after adding a 25-strong barrister team from 4 -5 Gray’s Inn Square in 2012.
Although the new address is in close proximity to the Temple, the decision to leave Essex Street where the set’s neighbours include Brick Court Chambers and Keating Chambers will be seen as a bold move.
39 Essex Street has been looking for a larger base since it added 25 new members as well as a team of four clerks in late 2012 (28 November 2012). The move made it London’s largest civil set with 123 barristers and 37 silks compared with 94 members and 31 silks in 2012.
Chief executive David Barnes said the set had outgrown its current premises and was working with developers to re-fit the 50,000 sq ft building.
The management board is understood to be in consultation over whether or not to change the brand of the set in line with the move to 81 Chancery Lane.
The addition of the 24 barristers from 4-5 Gray’s Inn created a cash windfall for chambers, with each of the new members asked to pay an up-front joining fee to sign up. The fee, understood to be around £30,000, was paid directly to the chambers’ LLP on top of contributions and was intended to contribute to the running costs of chambers.
Since then the firm has looked outside the UK for international expansion and has put in plans plans to open in Kuala Lumpur, making it the first UK chambers to have a presence in Malaysia.
Chambers has taken an office at the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA) following a formal signing of the lease in February (14 February 2014). The move was first reported by The Lawyer in October 2013 (18 October 2013).
It will be the set’s second base in Asia after it launched in Singapore in 2012 (26 June 2012).