Chambers prepares for law firm merger

Fraud and crime set 2 Hare Court is preparing itself for a future merger with a law firm.

The set has appointed a chambers director as part of its financial restructuring plans, which it believes may be necessary for it to establish formal ties with a solicitors’ firm.

The move comes in response to the Office of Fair Trading’s report on competition in the professions, which proposed wide-ranging changes to the rules governing legal practice.

Tenant Craig Ferguson said: “We are preparing to be in a position so in five years we will be ready to form a partnership. We will be legally entitled to form more of a corporate business entity either by absorbing a solicitors’ firm, by going into partnership with a firm, or by becoming the advocacy department of a large solicitors’ firm.”

There is greater fluidity at the bar, with more barristers moving sets, and sets merging. Tanfield Chambers and Francis Taylor Building merged last month to form a 65-tenant set, while Manchester’s 9 and 28 St John Street entered talks to create a 91-strong set.

But this fluidity has resulted in a number of chambers closing. Cardinal Chambers, which had been operating for only two years, recently closed, and in May Mitre Court dissolved, resulting in 16 barristers moving to 5 King’s Bench Walk.

And 4 Field Court reacted to a bout of departures by shedding 10 more barristers and rebranding as a niche commercial, intellectual property and shipping set, called Stone Chambers.