A ton of new QCs hit the courts

A wig-tastic day for 100 advocates

Exactly 100 advocates – made up of 95 barristers and five solicitors – were today named in the annual silk round.

The number represents an increase on the QCs appointed in each of the last two years, and a significant increase in successful solicitor-advocates, of whom just eight were appointed in the previous five years put together.

There were 225 applicants – again higher than in the previous two years – of whom 162 were interviewed. Each applicant was considered against five competencies: understanding and using the law, written and oral advocacy; working with others, diversity and integrity.

Helen Pitcher, chairman of the selection panel, said that “almost all” of those who had been unsuccessful were “nevertheless highly respected and effective advocates”.

The body that organises the silk round, QC Appointments, emphasised the greater diversity of this year’s QCs compared to those in 2012-13, appointing:

  • 18 of the 42 women who applied (14 in 2012-13);
  • 13 of the 32 applicants who declared an ethnic origin other than white (three in 2012-13);
  • 11 of the 43 applicants aged over 50 (five in 2012-13). The youngest successful applicant this year is 36 years-old and the oldest 68;
  • Two employed advocates of the six who applied (none in 2012-13); and
  • Five of the eight applicants who declared a disability (none in 2012-13).

Seven solicitor-advocates applied and five were appointed. All are international arbitration specialists from top City firms: Nic Fletcher (Berwin Leighton Paisner), Matthew Gearing (Allen & Overy, Hong Kong), Paula Hodges (Herbert Smith Freehills), Constantine Partasides (who it was reported this week is leaving Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to co-found a niche arbitration practice) and Matthew Weiniger (Herbert Smith Freehills).

Ms Pitcher said: “The selection process is a rigorous and demanding one. We collect confidential assessments from judges, fellow advocates and professional clients, who give freely of their time to provide vital evidence about an applicant’s demonstration of the competencies.

“The best applicants are then interviewed by two members of the panel, following which the whole panel discuss all the evidence on each applicant.”

The new QCs will formally become silks when they make their declaration before the Lord Chancellor on 14 April. See the full list here.

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