David Josse Q.C. is Head of Chambers at 5SAH. He is a Silk specialising in extradition, human rights, international war crimes and serious crime, both nationally and internationally. David explains how 5SAH continues to strive for excellence and how the Bar must modernise.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE MAIN POINTS THAT DIFFERENTIATE 5SAH FROM ITS COMPETITORS?
Our clients are central to everything that we do at 5SAH. We offer and provide each and everyone a bespoke service. The barristers they instruct will be experts in their field and provide realistic advice. They are client focused and results driven.
In addition, we want our members and staff to be happy and to be part of and proud of 5SAH because we offer a unique and welcoming workplace and environment. We are flexible with our working practices for both our staff and members. We offer a generous package for anyone on parental leave. As a result, we retain our barristers and clerks, many of whom have been with us throughout their years at the Bar. We offer a generous pupillage package and we always aim to retain our pupils in order to grow our talent from the bottom up. We do not believe it benefits the individual or 5SAH as a whole, to take on pupils if we cannot accommodate them as tenants.
WHICH PRACTICES DO YOU EXPECT TO GROW OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS? WHAT ARE THE DRIVERS BEHIND THAT?
- Business Crime: This team is a busy and successful group of expert barristers. We expect this group to grow over the next 12 months due to the upsurge in financial based crime. Our team receives some of the biggest cases in the market in this area and we are confident this will continue. Much of the work has become advisory on pre-charge and investigation stage and this has significantly increased instruction in this area.
- Extradition & International: Whether we like it or not - a remainer or a leaver - Brexit will have a huge impact on our legal landscape. This applies to a great an extent in the area of Extradition Law. No one knows quite how it will impact both legally and practically, but our barristers will be ready to tackle the challenges that leaving the EU will throw at them. This will be a very busy time for our Team, almost certainly providing real and interesting opportunities for legal challenges.
HOW HAS DIRECT PUBLIC ACCESS CHANGED THE WORK OF YOUR CHAMBERS? IS THIS A GROWTH AREA FOR YOUR SET?
Direct public access work has changed the work of 5SAH. We still receive the majority of our work from traditional streams, however direct public access is an important provider and is growing. It is a brilliant way for members of the public to directly access and instruct a barrister in appropriate cases where there is less need for litigation support. It cuts the costs for them and any duplication of work. It also shows how the Bar is modernising for the needs of our clients, which is always a good thing.
It is a growth area for 5SAH. We have our Public Access barristers listed on the website for ease if clients wish to find them for this service. We are likely to expand these pages on our website as it is such a growth area. We have to follow the needs of our clients. If the public are showing more interest in instructing our barristers directly, 5SAH needs to adapt in order to provide a more streamlined service for the client in this respect. Let’s watch this space!
WHAT OTHER ISSUES ARE DRIVING CHANGE AT THE MODERN BAR? HOW ARE YOU ADAPTING TO SUCH CHANGE?
The modern Bar is adapting, however it still has a way to go before we can say that it accommodates all. We need to be better at accommodating members of the Bar who want to engage to a greater extent in a family or personal life. The unpredictable hours, travel and last minute nature of disclosure and paperwork all need to be managed in a better way. Of course funding in some practice areas has a huge impact on how a case is managed. The legal profession cannot provide a family friendly working environment if the legal system we use does not support this.
5SAH offers a generous parental leave package for its members and we have a high retention rate of barristers coming back to work after they have had children. Other sets also need to offer its members better incentives to stay within the profession so that we do not lose talented members of the Bar unnecessarily.
As a profession we also need to encourage members from non-traditional legal backgrounds to join and stay within the profession. We have many members that are from non-legal backgrounds. We have had members appear in the press publicising their own journey in order to encourage others. We support the #IAmTheBar campaign from the Bar Council and think that this is a great campaign and hope this will continue.
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU'VE MADE IN CHAMBERS THAT YOU BELIEVE WILL BENEFIT CLIENTS?
Chambers has always supported Pro-Bono work and it is something that on a personal level I have been keen to encourage. Its value to both Chambers and independent development is something that I always emphasise. It affords a real opportunity to work in new and, at times, interesting and challenging areas of practice. I can vouch for this on a personal level. As a result of some gentle encouragement, more members of chambers now undertake pro-bono work and we are proud of Natasha Shotunde’s recent award in this area. Clearly this benefits our clients, our barristers and Chambers as a whole.
- A general growth in international work. This goes well beyond extradition as an area of practice and now encompasses advisory work in both business crime, family law and importantly in Rule Of Law matters. On a personal level, I am delighted to see that many of our juniors are keen to make their mark in the world of International Criminal Law. Having spent five years defending in War Crime trials at an International Tribunal I can vouch for how stimulating and fascinating such cases are and how on return to domestic practice they make an individual a far better and more rounded lawyer.
WHAT TECHNOLOGY HAS CHAMBERS RECENTLY INVESTED IN?
Chambers has for years been using cloud-based case management software and this has dramatically decreased the need for paper-based cases. This is across a broad range of our practice areas. The cases that do come in paper form are quickly converted into electronic format, which allows barristers to work securely and remotely wherever they are.
HOW HAS THIS TECH CHANGED THE WAY YOU INTERACT WITH YOUR CLIENTS, AND THE SERVICES YOU CAN PROVIDE THEM?
We use our skype and video conference facilities far more than five years ago for local, national and international clients. We can even have conferences directly with people in detention. This has cut down travelling times and enabled us to provide faster client service.
WHAT OTHER CHAMBERS’ FACILITIES ARE A BENEFIT TO CLIENTS?
We have outstanding seminar facilities and a regular programme of educational events for solicitors, investigators and government lawyers to help keep us at the forefront of our practice area. Our people are our asset and our team of clerks aims to provide the highest service to all types of client.
WHAT ARE CLIENTS LOOKING FOR FROM A MODERN CHAMBERS?
Clients do not want to instruct a stuffy set of barristers. Our clients expect an approachable counsel who is open to new ideas and collaborating towards the agreed end point of their case. Clients also expect a Chambers not only to provide quality legal services but also be up to date with current news items, political topics and how they will impact a particular practice area or legal issue. They expect an all round service and at 5SAH that is what we aim to deliver.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR SET IN THREE YEARS’ TIME?
We want to improve our market position by receiving interesting and important work across a range of fields. We want to educate and mentor our junior barristers to progress their careers and encourage more of our members to become QCs.
We have recently had 2 silks appointed (Kevin Dent Q.C. and Edmund Burge Q.C.). We strive for a collegiate atmosphere that encourages our juniors to achieve recognition in the same manner as their more senior colleagues. We want to inspire the next generation for the benefit of the Bar in general and 5SAH in particular.