Riverview Chambers represents a sea change in the way legal services can be delivered, there is no doubt. This is the first of DLA Piper-backed LawVest's mould-breaking 'alternative legal business structures', one of a handful of exciting business innovations in the sector currently in the queue for an ABS licence. We've all read the legal news stories: two firms under one brand Riverview Law - Riverview Solicitors and Riverview Chambers - will offer businesses a 'different experience of law' by offering fixed pricing on legal jobs. But I was interested to learn from to Gary Morton this week, one of the barristers who led 3 Pump Court's charge into the new Riverview venture, about how this ground-breaking development benefits his own chambers.
'So far we've signed up to supply employment services for Riverview. And in this part of the legal world, peaks and troughs can be difficult to manage. You may spend weeks at a time in Tribunal. At other times you prepare for a three-week hearing, then the case settles the day before court leaving a gaping hole in the diary that can't be filled at short notice. Our dual membership at Pump Court and Riverview means we can fill the gaps with work that is more piecemeal in nature coming from a different part of the market, eg one or two day cases. I also think there's an intellectual benefit in having a steadier flow of work and a more diverse range. It enables you to exercise your skills more constantly, rather than having to switch it on and switch it off. I believe strongly it creates better barristers.'
But doesn't Riverview Chambers conflict with 3 Pump Court?
'Not at all. It's complementary. That's the point. In a sense we are just using the Riverview Chambers umbrella to service one particular client that is Riverview Solicitors - in the same way we service other big law firm clients at 3 Pump Court.'
3 Pump Court is famous for its collaborative culture: these guys are the antithesis of the classic image of the remote, standoffish barristers that sit in their ivory towers, quite removed from their clients and the rest of the legal team. And Gary in particular will tell you that he thinks more naturally 'as part of a collective' than as an individual - his background as a Trade Union organiser becoming apparent here. So it was no surprise to hear him enthuse: 'What really excites me about this new venture is the opportunity to take team-working between solicitors and barristers to a whole new level. Barristers do like to work with solicitors they know well, will often choose to work on a succession of cases together. But in this new structure we can take this so much further, fine-tuning how we work together, becoming slicker, more efficient - which of course from the client's point of view means more economical. '
If this is a sign of things to come in the brave new world of legal services, the future does indeed look bright.
You can count the story lines just looking at this picture of her impromptu hockey display on her visit to Team GB this week.
- The unfusty royal - prepared to pull on a sweatshirt and trainers, give it a go and be a good sport
- A woman with skills - once captain of the school hockey team, at Team GB her technique 'wowed crowds and impressed officials' according to the Telegraph.
- Effortlessly glamorous - being Kate Middleton, even in trousers worn for a public occasion and incongruous grey sweat top and trainers, she still managed to look fabulous.
- And look at that smile and that wonderful body language. This young woman may be living life in a goldfish bowl, but she's cool and relaxed - and knows how to have fun. #
A very welcome Tonic came mid-week in the form of our 'Spruce Up for Spring' session in Covent Garden. Clients and friends who are members of our Tonic Club volunteered for free makeovers (at Bare Escentuals) or traditional wet shaves (at über trendy barbershop Murdock), followed by drinks all together at nearby Hospital Club.
Tonic is designed exclusively for people working in-house in professional firms in PR, marketing or management roles. As its name suggests, the idea is to offer a 'tonic' - these roles may be joyous and rewarding but we all know there are frustrations too!
Thanks Nicola, Victoria, Jacky, Sarah, Sam, Andy, Chris, Lauren and all my fine colleagues at Kysen for making it such a fun evening. Looking forward to Part Two on 12 April..