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‘Queen’s Counsel’ title should be awarded to non-advocates, says CILEx

10th Apr 2015

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has stated that the title of ‘Queen’s Counsel’ should be available to all lawyers, not just advocates, as the title should indicate excellence  and expertise for the entirety of the legal profession.

CILEx has stated that they believe that by widening the scope of the title, the selection pool would also increase and thus create a more diverse group of candidates who are able to take silk. The recommendations were made in a response to the consultation on the eligibility for appointment as Queen’s Counsel (QC).

Diversity data from the Bar Council shows that there were 1,397 self-employed silks in 2010. Of this number, 1,245 were male, whilst only 152 were female. Of the total number of QCs recorded at the time, 68 were from black or minority ethnic backgrounds (BME), while 1,273 were white. No data was recorded for 56 QCs.

The chief executive of CILEx, Mandie Lavin, has stated that although QC’s are some of the highest profile figures in the legal profession, they “are not always reflective of our diversity”. Lavin continued to say that increasing the pool of candidates would give the title of QC “greater validity and respect.”

CILEx also noted the high cost of becoming a QC; the application fee for appointment as a QC is £2,160, and costs a further £3,600 if one is successfully appointed, which CILEx believe should be reviewed to prevent prohibitive application. It also recommended that QCs go through re-accreditation to maintain public confidence.

The Bar Standard’s Board (BSB) has recently requested that the Queen’s Counsel Appointments (QCA) consider developing a system of re-accrediting criminal silks. This request follows an announcement made by the regulator in January which revealed plans to explore other ways to protect the public from poor standards of advocacy.