Atkin Chambers appoints first chief executive

Construction and shipping set Atkin Chambers has appointed its first chief executive after a year-long search.

Geoff Smith has taken on the role after six years as group operations director at public relations company Bell Pottinger. Before his career in the marketing industry he practised as a civil and structural engineer for almost 20 years.

Chambers head Andrew White QC said in a statement: “The members of chambers decided over a year ago that the changes in the way in which legal services are provided generally, and by the bar in particular, meant that we needed to look carefully at how we operated, at what is expected of a modern commercial set of chambers, and to plan for the future.”

White added that the set undertook a year-long search for Smith. An interim chief executive was appointed in the meantime, but Smith is the set’s first full-time chief executive.

Smith said he was excited by the opportunities in the bar at the present time.

“I was particularly attracted by what’s going on in the bar at the moment, giving that chambers are coming under greater commercial pressures,” he said. “Atkin seems to be willing to look at new ways of doing things.”

He said there was nothing specific on the agenda immediately to change.

A significant number of barristers’ chambers now have chief executives or chambers directors appointed from outside the profession, leading the administrative functions alongside a senior clerk. Most recently, Landmark Chambers brought on board Holly Gavaghan from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where she was a business development manager (27 June 2012).