60 seconds with Richard Khaldi, Chambers Director at Maitland Chambers

Apr 17th, 2024 by Hewetson & Co

You’ve been at Maitland for just over 4 years now and prior to that you had a high-profile career in the regulation and utility sectors. How did those experiences prepare you for your senior management role at one of the country’s leading sets?

What’s most noticeable about working in chambers is that no two days are the same. I’m helping to support the practices of 68 individual barristers, working alongside 17 other professional support colleagues, all from inside a Grade One Listed building. Each one of those elements brings up challenges and opportunities on a daily basis and I think the variety of my experience allows me to problem solve much more quickly than might otherwise be the case.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of making a similar career shift?

I think the biggest shift for anyone’s career is the point at which they are no longer employed to be a technical expert but to be a manager/leader of others. When that shift happens, you focus less on the day to day and more on the strategic horizon, both in relation to your people and the business as a whole. In my view preparing yourself as best you can for that shift is key. For me, that meant extra study for an MBA that taught me the fundamentals of finance, strategy and leadership. Those broad skills have then allowed me to move across sectors in a way that would not have otherwise been possible.

How are you ensuring your chambers continues to go from strength to strength and are there any trends you’re noticing and happy to share?

The key to a successful chambers is creating a stable and supportive environment in which all your members can thrive. Ultimately, as a professional support team our job is to allow our members to focus on providing the best advice and service to their clients. Being abreast of potential regulatory and market changes, anticipating them where possible and generally being a step ahead will always give you a fighting chance of doing that. In terms of trends, like all modern businesses we are only as effective as our technology allows us to be. Gone are the days when leaders in chambers can afford to delegate to others their understanding of the risks and rewards of technology. As a result, deciding when and where to invest in training, new technology and expert support is a continuous cycle and one that I anticipate will only increase in pace in the coming years.

A perceived idea of a chambers brand is not always up to date, from our experience. What areas of work has chambers made good ground in that may surprise some reading this?

If you had said 5 years ago that Maitland would be a Band 1 set for Cryptoassets with a Band 1 silk and two Band 1 juniors I think there might have been some quizzical looks! Obviously we have a strength in restructuring/insolvency that has been recognised over many years. Although Cryptoassets are at the cutting edge of the intersection between law and technology, Maitland’s strength in traditional asset recovery meant that there was a natural fit with this new practice area. Add to that a willingness to welcome new members and we now have a thriving practice area that is rightly being recognised as a leader at the Bar.

How do you continually strive to ensure your members get a good rate of return on their investment?

I think it comes down to two things – being prepared to ask why and having a strategy. Change is not always easy, but it’s my job to keep asking why we are doing things in a particular way. Asking the question doesn’t mean that something has to change, but it will nearly always reveal whether the right thinking has taken place and whether we can do something better or cheaper. Your strategy then helps to place all those individual decisions into context. Areas such as IT and cyber security are too complex and expensive to be dealt with step by step. Your strategy will allow you to navigate through each decision (big and small) with a clear rationale and sense of purpose.

What does ‘downtime’ away from chambers look like for you?

I have two daughters who are still at school so the weekends are taken up with a fair amount of Dad-taxi duties. I’m a big fan of playing tennis and play at least a couple of times a week. My other big passion is cars so I try to attend as many events as I can during the year such as the Festival of Speed, the Le Mans 24 Hour Race and classic racing in Europe.

We’ve known each other for a while now, so keen to see whether we can guess this - name three things about yourself, two true and one false.

My family has a pretty long military history. My maternal great-grandfather fought at the Somme and my paternal grandfather formally surrendered Jerusalem in the Six Day War.

I rowed at school and university including competing in Goldie, one of the reserve crews in the Boat Race.

I am a true cockney – born within the sound of Bow Bells.

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When considering a chambers move with my team, I met with all the major players in the industry. Guy and Tony were our clear preferred choice.

They were authentic in their approach, challenged us when they felt it necessary and ultimately delivered a seamless service. Most importantly they showed complete discretion, which was for us the most important criteria.

Their reputation for being leaders in their field is well deserved and I would not hesitate to recommend them to others.

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