London set 39 Essex Street is laying the foundations for an amalgamation with 4-5 Gray’s Inn in a move that will create London’s largest civil set.
It is understood that around 30 4-5 Gray’s Inn members are in advanced talks to join 39 Essex Street with members of the clerking team also expected to join the set.
In coming together the combined chambers will become home to around 124 members with more than 40 silks working across a broad range of practices, including public, commercial and planning law.
39 Essex Street chief executive David Barnes confirmed that discussions were at an “advanced stage” but both sets declined to comment about the specific number of barristers expected to transfer.
The Gray’s Inn set has seen a number of departures in recent weeks, with 11KBW announcing that it had taken a further two members from the set this week (31 October 2012). 11KBW has added David Bedenham, who was called to the bar in 2005, and Heather Emmerson, who was called to the bar in 2009. This comes just a week after it added Charles Bourne and Andrew Sharland.
Landmark Chambers has also benefitted, adding another 4-5 Gray’s Inn silk to its roster, with Philip Coppel QC joining his former setmate Tim Corner QC in chambers (7 November 2012). Last week it was revealed that Landmark had also added Paul Brown QC and Lisa Busch to its membership.
It is understood that talks between 4-5 Gray’s Inn and 39 Essex Street were kickstarted in the summer, with Barnes taking a lead role in the talks alongside 4-5 Gray’s Inn senior clerk Michael Kaplan and Peter Village QC.
Should the talks be successful it will be the first sign of consolidation at the London bar, with one source stating: “It’ll be a big set and they’re both highly regarded. In the area of public law they’ll want to challenge the likes of Blackstone, which are leaders in the field.”