Exclusive: Liberty director Chakrabarti to join 39 Essex in return to the bar

Departing Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti is to return to the bar, rejoining her former set 39 Essex Chambers as a door tenant, Lawyer 2B can reveal.

Chakrabarti completed her pupillage at 39 Essex, then 39 Essex Street Chambers, in 1994, leaving after two years to work for the Home Office.

Shami Chakrabarti
Shami Chakrabarti

The decision to return to chambers marks a major win for 39 Essex, which has grown considerably since Chakrabarti was a junior tenant. The set became the largest civil set in London after taking 24 new members in 2012. It now has 108 members including 43 silks.

Chakrabarti revealed in January she would leave Liberty after 12 years as director of the civil rights group. She described her time as Liberty’s director as an “enormous privilege” and said she was leaving the group “stronger than ever”.

She is to be succeeded by Doughty Street barrister Martha Spurrier, who will take over at the end of May.

Chakrabarti joined Liberty in 2001, becoming director two years later. During her time at the helm she has repeatedly clashed with governments and become a major name in civil rights campaigning and politics, once dubbed “the most dangerous woman in Britain” for her formidable track record of overturning Government policies.

Under Chakrabarti’s directorship, Liberty has seen off attempts to impose compulsory ID cards, derailed plans to extend the period suspects can be held without charge to 42 days, and defeated critical changes to stop-and-search legislation.