What’s going on in the market (the Bar)? It’s a question the Team and I are constantly being asked and in the spirit of the sharing of information, I emailed asking them to scratch their heads and provide some thoughts on what is occupying their time – the art of delegation never being lost on me!

And there’s plenty happening……

The market

We’ve witnessed a significant increase in Chambers undertaking comprehensive strategic reviews of their leadership, staffing and clerking/practice management functions.

There are several key factors at play, staffing teams have often grown organically, with many becoming disjointed or needing to be reworked or streamlined to best meet evolving internal and external requirements.  With such focus now on client care, roles have needed to be rethought, developed and job descriptions rewritten to meet the demands of increasingly diverse and sophisticated clients.

Many teams have also been operating at full capacity and are too small, needing to be expanded or put in to more formalised and focused groups, thus placing greater emphasis on teams with the skills capable of delivering effective practice management and importantly, meeting the demands of expanding business development functions.

Much of our work has focused on detailed reviews, advising on and creating new leadership and management roles and recruiting individuals and completely new teams.  This looks set to continue as we see the Bar adopting a far more aggressive approach to configuring staffing teams.

Senior roles – shift

There’s been a noticeable shift in Sets considering candidates and often filling senior roles from what may be considered ‘non-traditional’ talent pools.  This is being driven in large part by the shifting nature of the Bar’s markets, a more aggressive approach to developing work and stronger leadership; this is most apparent where Sets are being led by individuals with experience gained away from the Bar.  The effect has been that several senior roles have been secured by those with little specialist knowledge of a Sets main practice areas, but importantly by those with significant drive and the business development skills to be successful.

Hard work paying off

The Team agree that over the past 12 months we’ve seen the long-term work undertaken by the IBC across its education programmes really coming to fruition.  We regularly witness how skills developed on the ILM course (in particular) and the confidence gained, reflects in the quality of applications we receive, with applicants now more than capable of holding their own during increasingly robust formal interview processes, which should be commended. The knock-on effect has seen an increased fight for the most talented individuals.

Recognising and developing talent

The other noticeable market move has been the recognition of the benefits of nurturing and developing talent from within and now right across staffing teams.  This is being driven by increased candidate confidence and by Chambers leadership teams, many of which have taken on the challenge of removing traditional hurdles to success by improving levels of inclusion and providing more positive working environments – developments which are playing an increasingly important role in convincing the best candidates to join.

Predictions – more consolidation and increased movement between Sets for Barristers, Teams and the most talented staff (we would say that!).

Significant focus by the Bar on International work and new revenue streams, requiring strategic leadership capable of defining and delivering this.

A move away from the traditional Chambers model towards those offering much greater levels of flexibility, including the creation of new roles i.e. Non-Executive Director (NEDS) – a bold step but one that makes perfect sense. External investment in Chambers (yes, that’s right!).

New roles focused on technology and communication – the almost impossible task of keeping up with law firms and their deep pockets.

Brexit for the Bar – finger in the air and let’s see what happens (just the kind of approach and certainty that professional service businesses enjoy!)

New routes to practice

Chambers will increasingly consider lateral hires from non-traditional routes, as it sees the value in a much broader offering to clients.   Recruitment will reflect this and move away from a focus on academia and prescribed legal skills, placing greater emphasis on business skills, strategic thinking, business development and how this comes together in order to create greater opportunity – particularly important when the Bar is focusing on new markets.

Significant opportunity

Direct access will continue to thrive, and we’ve seen the Bar growing this work significantly.  New models will also continue to be developed and it’s been a pleasure to work closely with those being innovative and launching new entities – especially when work historically undertaken by the Bar is increasingly being retained and targeted by others.


We’ve carried on the growth, adding new consultants (Ann Langford and Will Taborn) and further services; Ann’s expertise in all things Wellbeing for the Bar and law firms – Ann presented on the subject to 25 law firm practice managers in Brighton at the beginning of the year and has rolled out a series of tailored events for Chambers – get in touch if you’d like to discuss.

Will began spearheading GRL’s consultancy and business development offerings for direct access work, with much more to come.

Thanks, and congratulations.

We recently undertook a significant client survey and gained invaluable feedback covering what we are doing well and how we might improve.  As a result, we began a programme designed to change the way we communicate externally and have simplified our message. Thank you to all those who provided responses.

Matt was also promoted to Director of Recruitment, well done and thank you for all your hard work – non-alcoholic shandys on Matt.

We wish you well for what’s left of the year and if GRL can provide any assistance, then do get in touch:

Nick Rees – Managing Director

Paul Reece – Director of Business Development

Matt Curness – Director of Recruitment