22 Nov 2022

Devereux stunned by death of popular chambers director

Tributes pour in for ‘brilliant’ Michael ‘Vince’ Plant after ‘sudden and unexpected’ news

Colonnade of Middle Temple, Inns of Court, London

Colonnade of Middle Temple, Inns of Court, London DavidYoung; Shutterstock

The director of London’s Devereux Chambers, Michael Plant, known as Vince, has passed away. 

An online announcement by the set said the news was ‘sudden and unexpected’, calling him ‘a great friend and colleague as well as a fine leader of the clerks’ room’.

‘He brought compassion and humanity to all his decisions and dealings with others and was an exemplary manager of people.' the set wrote. 'He was devoted to his family, and we send our heartfelt condolences and sympathy to his wife, Jen, and his three children.’

Plant joined Fountain Court Chambers in 1998 after leaving school. He spent the next twenty years there, rising to the rank of deputy senior clerk. He was integral to that set’s growth alongside recognised clerking figures like Alex Taylor, Paul Martenstyn and Michael Couling. 

Members described Plant as ‘not just a terrific clerk; he was a lovely human being’ with Edward Levey KC commenting on Twitter that, notwithstanding Plant’s exit in 2010, ‘such was the relationship he built — maintained — with all of his barristers, he still felt like "one of our own”’.

Devereux Chambers, however, was where Plant cemented his growing reputation. Working initially with Beverly Landais, who had left Baker McKenzie to become chambers director in 2008, he headed the clerking team for three years before succeeding Landais when she joined Saunderson House as marketing director.

Plant’s nine years as chambers director were transformational for the set, whether in terms of recruitment, retention, business development, or clerking. Its members were bolstered by the presence of leading silks such as Colin Edelman KC in insurance, former head of chambers Timothy Brennan KC in tax and employment, Robert Weir KC in personal injury and clinical negligence, and current head of chambers Andrew Burns KC. 

The set also added a substantial team of tax barristers to its ranks, including former member Jolyon Maugham KC.

Plant’s genius, however, was working with younger barristers and clerks. Such work, Devereux Chambers said, was ‘tireless’ and ‘remarkable’, adding that ‘dozens of successful clerks around the Temple owe their careers to his patient mentoring’.

Senior clerks across the Inns of Court echoed those sentiments, and their sadness. One noted Plant’s support for the late Lawrence Willicombe, who died from cancer in 2021, another senior member of the Devereux clerking team. 

Landais said Plant ‘was a terrific colleague; a generous, kind, and thoughtful man who adored his family and was proud of chambers. Our last conversation was typical – Vince telling me with pride about the talent and potential he saw in others rather than talking about himself.’ 

To all, he was kind, thoughtful, and firm when needed, with, according to one lawyer, ‘a wonderful sense of humour and a smile that lit up a room’. Others cited his love of family, rugby, football, and photography. 

Plant, noted many, listened carefully and calmly and was known for sound judgment in dealing with law firms and sets, many of which paid tribute. 

Alison Eddy, London managing partner of Irwin Mitchell, said: ‘Vince was the loveliest man and a brilliant chambers director.’ 

John Petrie, chambers director of 1 Crown Office Row, observed: ‘Vince was both very good in his work and a very kind and decent man outside of work.’

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