St Philips chief exec resigns as part of management revamp

The chief executive of Birmingham set St Philips Chambers, Chris Owen, has resigned as the set launches a review of its management and administration.

When The Lawyer contacted Owen he was still in his office at St Philips, but was unavailable for comment.

It is not yet known where Owen is going and a date has not been agreed for his departure. He handed in his resignation today after discussions late last week. Chief clerk Joe Wilson will step up to fill the role in the meantime.

Owen joined St Philips in 2009, returning to private practice in the chief executive position following the introduction of the Legal Services Act (15 June 2009).

He had previously been a bar consultant for several years and before that was senior clerk at London set 7 Bedford Row.

In 2007 Owen settled a claim with Radcliffe Chambers for constructive and wrongful dismissal after he alleged that he was the victim of bullying, harassment and victimisation for whistleblowing on wrongdoing (15 October 2007).

St Philips has begun to review the way it manages the business administration side of chambers. It has not ruled out either a reduction or increase in staff, but is understood to be looking at a best model.

The set refused to comment on whether Owen’s resignation was related to how chambers planned to move forward.

Instead, it said that the review was in response to “dramatic changes” in the legal services marketplace and the “planned departure” of Owen.

Head of chambers Kevin Hegarty QC said: “Chris Owen’s move gives us the opportunity to take a close look at how chambers’ management and administration might evolve over the next five years.

“There continue to be dramatic changes in the legal services market, and St Philips has never been afraid to respond to those by breaking the mould.

“Our management team will take a close look at all aspects of the market and how we support our practice, and will bring forward an appropriate response to that in terms of how we run our business.

“We’re grateful to Chris for the way he’s applied his qualities to chambers since he joined us in 2009 and we wish him well for the future.

“When Chris Owen departs our chief clerk Joe Wilson will take on responsibility for maintaining continuity of service while the planned management review takes place.”

St Philips is a set of 167 barristers across all areas, with particular specialist groups in family, civil and crime.

It is led by a partly nominated and partly elected board.