BARRISTERS are celebrating after the ‘gamble’ of opening a new branch has paid off.
Despite uncertain times for publicly-funded work due to legal aid cuts, 2 King’s Bench Walk, London, decided to open up at 3 Guildhall Walk in 2013.
Three years on, it has been hailed a success after establishing a new family law department, forging links with the city’s university – and doubling revenue.
Senior clerk Daren Milton said: ‘We came down here really against the run of the ball with what was happening with the legal aid market. It was perceived as a bit of a gamble – it’s one that has really paid off.’
He added: ‘We took the plunge.
‘There were quite a lot of people that were waiting for us to fail but we managed first and foremost to get the business model right internally.’
Before the opening of the branch there were 43 barristers in the set, which has since grown to 52.
The expansion is down to the growth of family law work, an area particularly busy in Portsmouth.
Mr Milton added their sound business model meant the chambers was able to reduce the percentage it takes from barristers – cushioning the blow from government’s reduction in legal aid fees.
And modern offices in busy Guildhall Walk have led to a new novelty of potential clients knocking at the door.
But Mr Milton added such work – known as direct access – makes up a small percentage of cases, with chambers careful to keep a healthy relationship with solicitors firms which refer work to them.
Around 60 per cent of its work is in criminal cases with the rest family and civil.
Head of chambers William Mousley QC, also leader of the Western Circuit, told The News: ‘We’re keen to develop our relationship further with the city, particularly with the local authority.
‘It’s worked out really well to have a physical presence here.’
He added: ‘We’ve always had a very strong connection with Portsmouth.’
The chambers, called 2KBW, which also offers conference and seminar room hire, was set up in 1953 and was well-established in Portsmouth on the Western Circuit prior to opening the branch in 2013.
Go to 2kbw.com for more.