Record year for Exchange Chambers

May 10, 2022

Exchange Chambers is poised for further growth across the Northern and North Eastern circuits after implementing a successful business strategy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Buoyed by the arrival of 38 new members since the beginning of 2020, Exchange has achieved record year-end turnover of £41million for the 2021/22 financial year. This represents a rise of 32% on Exchange’s 2020/21 turnover figure of £31 million. By way of context, Exchange’s pre pandemic turnover in 2019/20 was £33 million.

“The strong performance of the business is a credit to our outstanding barristers, clerks and staff,” said Jonathan I’Anson, Chief Executive at Exchange Chambers. “It has been an exceptional effort, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are seeing high quality instructions across all practice areas.”

Exchange has also announced that average member earnings have increased significantly over the last two years from pre pandemic levels across all practice areas, while members’ contributions remained low at an average of 12% of individual earnings.

“Our expansion strategy is based on attracting the highest quality work and the highest quality barristers,” continued Jonathan. “This is fuelling our growth and attracting applications from barristers from all over the country.”

Jonathan I’Anson took over as Exchange Chambers’ Chief Executive as the pandemic first took hold in 2020. Talking about Exchange’s strategy during the pandemic, he explained:

“Having previously worked as a partner in a large corporate law firm, I distinctly remember how certain businesses reacted to the challenges of the 2008 financial crash and learned some significant lessons.

“As a Board, we applied those lessons to our Covid recovery plan.

“From the very beginning of the virus we were determined not to pull the shutters down. We stayed on the front foot in terms of plans for growth, investment in the business, marketing, business development and recruitment.”

Continued Jonathan:

“We have focussed on recruitment, bringing in a fifteen strong family law team from Chavasse Chambers and a number of silks from other Chambers, including Simon Gorton QC and Anesta Weekes QC.

“Indeed, we have taken on 38 new tenants since the onset of the virus two years ago. We also continued with our plans to take 6 pupils a year, in fact we took on extra pupils. We renegotiated and signed new ten-year leases in both Manchester and Leeds while continuing to invest in all areas of the business, particularly technology. We maintained our marketing push and our training initiatives for solicitors were also scaled up with over 11,000 delegates booking on to our webinars and seminars over the last 12 months. All of that has meant that we have emerged from the last two years in an extremely strong position.”

Exchange has a proven track record providing its members with outstanding practice development support tailored to their individual aspirations. This year, Lisa Linklater QC and Chris Barnes QC took silk while Mark Rhind QC, Giles Maynard-Connor QC, Imran Shafi QC and David Temkin QC did likewise in 2021.  Former members of Exchange have also recently been appointed to prominent judicial positions.

The Set’s progress has been recognised by the independent legal directories this year, with Exchange named as Regional Set of The Year at the Chambers UK Bar Awards and securing over 200 rankings across The Legal 500 and Chambers UK. The legal directories describe Exchange as the “Chambers of choice in the North” with “superb expertise from junior juniors to hugely experienced silks”.

Head of Chambers, Bill Braithwaite QC, said Exchange is targeting further growth across all locations and practice areas, while always being open to new opportunities.

“As one of the largest and most well-resourced Chambers, we are committed to implementing our Northern powerhouse expansion strategy,” said Bill.

“We have been proactive in responding to the changing environment by supporting our members and delivering the very highest levels of service to our clients. We also recognise the importance of supporting members who wish to work flexibly while promoting equality and diversity at the Bar.”

Exchange Chambers now has 200 members, including 24 silks. The Set is based in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester.