Elite commercial chambers moves into … criminal law

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And you thought crime didn’t pay


One of the most prestigious chambers at the bar has bucked the doom and gloom surrounding criminal law to launch its own specialist crime practice.

Fountain Court is bringing in big swinging silk Richard Lissack QC from Outer Temple to lead its new team. He will be joined by two more Outer Temple barristers, Robin Barclay and Eleanor Davison, alongside Nicholas Medcroft, from Wilberforce Chambers.

But before wannabe barristers sign up to the Bar Professional Training Course and begin salivating about a life doing interesting work while earning megabucks (Fountain Court’s pupillage award is £65,000 and average earnings per barrister well over half a million quid per year), it is probably worth noting that the set will be focusing on commercial crime rather than legal aid.

Fountain Court defines this lucrative little niche of criminal law as sitting “at the junction of commercial and criminal law” — in other words, it involves the wrongdoing of the 0.1% and features reams of dry technicalities.

The move into this sort of work is emblematic of the direction of travel of the criminal bar, which is increasingly moving to serve high end clients as legal aid-funded punters are dealt with by solicitors’ firms. Fountain Chambers head Stephen Moriarty QC commented:

Commercial crime is an area where we have been seeing an increasing level of demand from our clients, particularly those in financial services.

The news comes as three of Fountain Court’s pupils, Ian Bergson, Max Evans and Max Kasriel, have been handed tenancies. Meanwhile, the set — one of five chambers dubbed the bar’s ‘magic circle’ — has also been bolstering the senior ranks of its commercial division, with Littleton Chambers’ Stuart Ritchie QC, Serle Court Chambers’ Jonathan Adkin QC, 3 Verulam Buildings’ Laura John and Erskine Chambers’ Alex Barden all joining recently.