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St Philips and Stone Chambers merge to create barrister megaset

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New combined outfit will have nearly 200 barristers

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Two well known barristers’ chambers have joined forces to create a megaset that will be the second largest in the country.

Birmingham based multi-disciplinary outfit St Philips and shipping specialists Stone Chambers will from 1 August be known collectively as St Philips Stone Chambers. The new barrister behemoth will have nearly 200 members, including 18 QCs, placing it just below No5 Chambers in the chambers size rankings.

The heads of the merging chambers each released statements yesterday evening expressing their pleasure at the combination.

St Philips boss Avtar Khangure QC spoke excitedly of how his set’s “national presence” could “combine with Stone’s reputation in London and overseas” in a “heart of London’s legal market” coming together. The union, he added, will provide a “strategic base to better service our ever-expanding work for City clients and further fulfill our strategy for long-term business growth in commercial work”.

Stone’s joint chiefs Elizabeth Blackburn QC and Vasanti Selvaratnam QC commented politely:

We are delighted to be joining forces with St Philips, which has a well-established and respected commercial group. The merger will put us in the enviable position of being part of one of the largest sets in the country, with all the support and infrastructure that comes with that, while continuing to provide our boutique service in shipping and international commercial disputes.

Make no mistake, St Philips is the trouser-wearer in this tie-up, with Stone among many mid-tier sets rumoured to be struggling following the dissolution of neighbour 11 Stone Buildings. At a time when star barristers are moving homes with greater frequency than ever, chambers need to either be really big or really specialist if they are to survive, say bar watchers. And St Philips has long been part of the former group with an already pretty chunky 170 members.

That brutal commercial reality is the story of the creation of St Philips Stone Chambers — even if the set’s mystique-draped new name will probably produce other explanations once in the hands of imaginative legal London tour guides.