Matrix Chambers has hired 11 King’s Bench Walk’s academic practitioner Gillian Morris, as well as four senior academics, all of whom are due to join the set as pupils over the next 18 months.
The new members are Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, Andrew Choo, professor of law at Brunel University, Matthew Craven, reader in law at the University of London and Aileen McColgan, who has taught law at Kings’ College in London since 1991 and is due to take up a chair of law there in September.
Some barristers believe academics are less profitable as barristers than as non-academic practitioners who can work full time on cases.
However, commercial barrister at Littleton Chambers Clive Freedman QC points to the fact that five years after Sir Patrick Elias, now a judge at the High Court’s Queen’s Bench Division, joined the bar from his academic post at Cambridge University, he “dominated the employment bar”.
He says: “Some use their academic knowledge as a platform for outstanding achievement at the bar. Academics, in the short term, can bring a degree of scholarship that busy practitioners may not have had the time to develop, and in international jurisdictions, much greater interchange exists between practitioners and academics.”
Conor Gearty, a founder member of Matrix and a professor of human rights law at King’s College, says: “Academic scholars have traditionally been less involved with the bar than their expertise and research skills have warranted, so I’m especially delighted that Matrix has taken this important initiative.”
Morris, of Brunel University, who has acted as a labour law expert for the International Labour Organisation and as an expert adviser to the European Commission, will join Matrix on 14 May from specialist employment chambers 11 King’s Bench Walk.
Chinkin has specialised in international law and human rights, and has also acted as a legal consultant to international institutions, including the Asian Development Bank, the UN Division for Advancement of Women and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Choo specialises in the law of evidence, Craven in state succession and human rights and McColgan’s particular interests are in discrimination, labour and human rights law.