Cherie's colleagues must earn £130,000

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Human rights lawyers who want to join the new London chambers of Cherie Booth QC will have to prove they can earn fees of £130,000 or more.

Human rights lawyers who want to join the new London chambers of Cherie Booth QC will have to prove they can earn fees of £130,000 or more.

The minimum earnings requirement will exclude many human rights lawyers who have chosen to earn much less than £130,000 because their clients can not afford to pay for legal advice. It is understood that Matrix chambers will take a percentage of each barrister's income to fund a £500,000 initial investment for the rent and refurbishment of their new premises at Griffin House, a former police station located four doors down from a notorious Holborn strip club.

One senior human rights solicitor questioned the propriety of using fees to control the entry of lawyers to chambers that profess to offer a "one-stop shop for all your human rights and civil liberties". He said: "Real human rights isn't about what you earn."

The Matrix barristers have been targeting other human rights sets for new recruits with limited success. One member of a well known civil rights set of chambers which has an established record for community and pro bono (free) work said that while many had been approached only two were attracted to the venture. "A lot of our lawyers work at law centres long into the night helping in the community - this doesn't appear to be that kind of chambers," she said.

The high-profile members of the 22-strong team, including Ms Booth, will earn between £200,000 and £300,000 a year. Ms Booth's advice to the TUC on the Parental Leave Directive not only grabbed the headlines but was well rewarded and is the kind of work Matrix barristers will be expected to bring in.

Its other members also have high profiles in their own fields. Michael Beloff QC, who is believed to earn £1m a year, is still considering an offer to join Matrix.

Those joining the new chambers include the immigration specialist Nicholas Blake QC, who will head Matrix as chair of its management committee. He advised Justice for Women in its failed attempt to overturn Jack Straw's decision to allow the convicted rapist Mike Tyson into the UK. Mr Blake said the £130,000 figure was only guidance and that they would consider barristers who fell below it but had the potential to earn more. However, he said: "We do have to pay the rent... the first question we ask people is not what you earn but what kind of practice do you have."