Criminal and public barristers dominate silk round
Legal Week reports
This year’s silks round has rewarded 76 barristers and one solicitor with the title of Queen’s Counsel (QC), with public and criminal law barristers dominating the field.Though the Lord Chancellor’s Department (LCD) received 456 applications from across the Bar there were few commercial barristers made up to silk with the vast majority of new QCs outside the leading commercial sets.A number of barristers were appointed QC at high profile public law chambers such as Cherie Booth’s human rights set, Matrix Chambers, as well as at the Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine’s former chambers 11 King’s Bench.Likewise, public law heavyweight Blackstone Chambers received two successful applications.The only solicitor to be made QC this year was Andrew C G Hopper, a sole practitioner from Mid-Glamorgan.He was the only successful applicant out of 12 solicitors that applied this year for the coveted title. The appointment of only one solicitor came despite a doubling in the number of applicants from solicitors.Last year of the six solicitors that applied all were rejected and the year before, of the nine that applied again only one was made up to QC.Though many of leading barristers in commercial sets were not appointed QC there was no shortage of income in the list of new silks.The average annual income of the 77 successful applicants was £228,836, while the average income of all 456 was £190,827. The overall number of applications was down on last year’s tally of 506 with a success rate this year of 16.9%.The number of appointments, coming only weeks after the Office of Fair Trading publicly criticised the silk system, is bound to provoke concerns that the bar is becoming overloaded with QCs. Despite a contraction in the profession and mounting evidence of pressure on fees outside of high-end commercial work, the LCD only made up one less QC than the previous year.In terms of diversity the silk awards matched the trend of previous rounds with around 17% of successful applicants being women and three out of the 77 new QCs coming from ethnic minority backgrounds.There were also two honorary silks: Donald Harris, Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College and Alfred Simpson a professor of law at the University of Michigan.
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