In our recent webinar, our own Lisa Edmunds (CEO and Senior Consultant Barrister) discussed her experience moving Chambers with Martin Griffiths (Former Chamber Director of Linenhall, Chester).

At an often daunting time, moving Chambers comes with many pros and a few cons and during our webinar, Lisa highlighted key elements of the transition that should be considered to ensure the move is as seamless as possible.

Q: Pull factors when moving Chambers are definitely key in deciding whether you should stay or make a move, when you moved during your career, let’s say from Harrington Street to Chavasse, what were your pull factors?

A: The pull factors to take me to Chavasse were two-fold really. I wanted to focus on a better quality of work with an eye on personal growth around parental representation and developing a guardian practice. At Harrington Street, I quickly established an exclusive family practice, one that was initially a blend between authority work and parent work. However, over the years, as Harrington Street recruited more local authority work, the consequence for me was that my practice became more dominant with local authority work which was something that started to take its toll on me. It caused me to question the work life balance that I had at that point and the quality of work I was undertaking and the service and delivery I was providing to clients, which I felt at times was compromised.

Ultimately, I wanted to remove myself from the local authority aspect of work to retain a work life balance and I think as a consequence this meant that I was able to retain more complex work and the instructions became more varied and interesting. As a result, I found that I was being instructed from the outset of a case which meant that one of my concerns at Harrington Street about client care etc. was slowly resolving because I felt I could go back to my core values which is delivering a high standard of service to clients, this ultimately pulled me to Chavasse.

Q: What about people? People can also be a pull factor keeping you in a set of Chambers. What about the corporate structure of a set of Chambers? Do you think these elements can influence an individual in their choice?

A: Yes for sure, it’s an individual choice. As a self-employed barrister, there’s tension around what goes on and you develop relationships with colleagues that can be quite complicated. Therefore, when you’re looking to change those relationships this can cause a slight obstacle in challenging yourself to do something different that would better you as an individual. Certainly as a result of my journey and now on reflection, I am very clear in the outlook that you’ve got to do what’s right for you and if people see that you are achieving your aspirations and goals and giving it your best shot ultimately they will back you. It may take a little while for them to catch up and give you that backing, but it does ultimately come. Thus, you’ve got to be quite single-minded when it comes to making those decisions and not become too influenced by the relationships around you.

In terms of the corporate structure and geography, working on the Northern Circuit was the right decision for me and being in that city environment generates, in relation to family law work, a very varied and complicated level of work which is something that I have always craved, so this is definitely a pull factor for many individuals I imagine.

Q: Having moved Chambers a couple of times and having now supported people in your own business who have moved to Unit Chambers, what have you learnt through that process and how what would you advise people to do differently?

A: There are 3 critical factors if you are looking to make a transition:

  • The first is how you handle the communication around your decision. Perhaps on reflection, the way I handled my own transition could have been more sensitive and I think as a result of my experience I would focus on the military precision needed in your communication. There are so many people that you need to tell and there’s a natural order and hierarchy in terms of making those announcements, so I think it’s good to have a clear plan that you can execute in a timely fashion. Almost from a script so you know what you’re going to say to who and when! That definitely helps you manage the situation and people respect you for sharing the communication in a sensitive but ultimately direct way.
  • The second aspect is all about timing. You may make a decision to move or transition but you’ve got to make sure the timing is right for you as there may be a number of factors you will have to take into account before you press the button. Of course if you have mapped it all out and time-lined it all, then that should be one aspect that you can manage as well.
  • Thirdly, you need to ensure that you manage those relationships with your colleagues. A lot of the people you surround yourself with are friends as well as colleagues so managing the relationship isn’t just in the build up but also in the aftermath. I think on reflection, across the various times I’ve announced that I’m moving on, I probably should have invested in more time in managing those relationships in the aftermath. Although, that is not to say anyone is negative about what I’ve done and I’m grateful for all the support that I continue to receive but I think those would be the key messages I would give to those contemplating change. 

We hope you found this Q & A between Lisa and Martin helpful. As the new year beckons, you may be reflecting on your legal journey and considering a career move. If you are looking for an exciting Chambers with a consistent work load, then we might be for you.

Join our family set! Drop Eve a line on [email protected] or give her a call on 07585 048811.

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