Alister Williams of Pallant Chambers discusses the set’s goals, strengths and successes
Pallant Chambers is based in Southampton and Chichester. Pallant has developed into a highly specialist civil and family set, instructed regionally but also in the senior courts where one would expect the London Bar to be utilised. Alister Williams, head clerk, explains Pallant’s approach: ‘I came to Pallant in 2001 after 12 years at a specialist commercial chancery set in London.’ That experience was vital. ‘In delivering legal services, the ultimate goal is to do what is best for the client and specialisation is the rational way of achieving that. That is what we set out to develop.’
Members are encouraged and supported in focusing their practices. In recent years practitioners have joined from leading London sets, adding strength to the commercial, employment, chancery, property and family offering. Emphasis is also placed on recruiting very able pupils.
Specialisation has become a buzzword throughout the legal profession and is easily paid lip-service to. It might also be considered a risky approach in the regions.
‘Pallant is an example of specialisation being possible in the regions, and that it works.’
Alister Williams, Pallant Chambers
According to Williams: ‘Pallant is an example of specialisation being possible in the regions, and that it works. We are proud to be a regional set with a strong, predominantly regional client base. Our longstanding clients work with us more often on a wider range of matters, which are increasingly complex, and we have a platform to work with new clients locally and further afield. Ultimately, we are delivering a better service, which produces more opportunities.’
Court and contentious advisory work remain core business areas, with members of the commercial, chancery, property, private client and family teams regularly appearing in the senior courts, and undertaking high-level work in the county court, family court, First-tier Tribunal and Employment Tribunal. Members are also working collaboratively with litigation funders, experts, and on non-contentious and transactional work.
‘We realise that the we can add value to traditional and non-traditional clients outside of our core business,’ adds Williams.
The market trend supports the approach with smaller, more focused organisations performing well.
‘Our size helps us. We are able to maintain our personal approach and build relationships, whilst providing appropriate expertise and a range of options. We have made progress.’
Pallant was nominated for Regional Chambers of the Year by The Legal 500 in 2014, 2017 and 2019, and is currently ranked as a tier-1 set, with 15 individual entries. Six members sit as recorders, deputy district judges or First-tier Tribunal judges. Chambers currently has three pupils with two more joining in the next 12 months.
Economic and political pressures continue to test the profession, but Williams is optimistic: ‘We will have to adapt, but we will continue to develop a very attractive offering if we remain client focused, regional, personal and specialist.’