Chambers coup for Birmingham Law Society

L-R: Chris Owen of St Philips Chambers; Dean Parnell and Andrew Lancaster, president and vice president of Birmingham Law Society

One hundred and sixty two barristers from Birmingham’s St Philips Chambers have joined Birmingham Law Society (BLS).

This is the first time an entire set has joined the organisation in its 191-year history.

BLS predominantly represents the region’s solicitors. Solicitors may join as individual members, or take up corporate membership through their firm.  Although the rules relating to membership were relaxed a few years ago, to allow barristers, judges, overseas practitioners and legal executives to join as individual members, take-up from the bar was limited.

Dean Parnell, president of Birmingham Law Society, said: “Birmingham Law Society is the largest regional law society in the country. We have more than 2,500 members, the vast majority of them being solicitors. 

“In order for BLS to achieve one clear unified voice for our regional legal community we have recognised the need to be more inclusive of other legal practitioners, including barristers and legal executives. The changes anticipated by the Legal Services Act also mean it is inevitable that different arms of the profession will need to work more closely together and it is important that we reflect this.

“St Philips’ decision to enrol all of its barristers as members of BLS is a real coup for the organisation.  It is hoped that other chambers will follow this example so that we can focus on establishing a really cohesive legal community within this region” 

St Philips is an award-winning multi-disciplinary chambers, based in Temple Row. It is one of the largest sets in the country, and operates nationally.

To strengthen ties with the local Bar further, Chris Owen, chief executive of St Philips, has been invited to join BLS’s Council, which is responsible for running the organisation, appointing officers and setting policy.

Mr Owen said: “Birmingham Law Society is a very impressive, well organised society and I am delighted and honoured to be invited by Dean Parnell to join the Council.  The opportunity for St Philips to work more closely with our solicitor friends and colleagues is such a positive step for our legal community.  Dean’s innovative and energetic leadership as president will ensure that the Council provides an exciting and challenging environment for us all.

“I currently sit on two Bar Council committees, which gives me an insight into where the Bar is going. I am already working with local law firms and other professional services organisations to see how they see the future of the provision of legal services. Being on the BLS Council will provide me with a greater understanding of the issues facing us all and I hope, in return, I can contribute in some small way to the on-going development of the Birmingham legal community.”

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