QC list 2014: Big jump in ethnic minority silks, but why so few women still?

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By Alex Aldridge on

Solicitor-advocate numbers up sharply too, but new appointments are mainly white male barristers.

The Bar has taken a step towards remedying its extreme lack of diversity at senior level by appointing four times as many ethnic minorities to QC as last year.

13% of the barristers awarded silk today are from ethnic minorities — meaning this year’s QC appointments round broadly reflects the equivalent figure for the general population (according to the 2011 census, 14% of the UK population is from ethnic minorities). But with 94% of the total of approximately 1,300 QCs of white ethnicity there remains a long way to go to reflect society.

More women have also been made QC this year. But they still only make up a disappointing 18% of new silks (up from 14% last year). Census data places the percentage of women in the general population significantly higher. Over all, around 88% of silks are men.

Solicitor-advocates are similarly underrepresented at silk level, with a mere 13 named as QC since 2006 — partly, in fairness to the Independent Queen’s Counsel Selection Panel, because so few apply (only two made applications in each of the last couple of years). So it’s encouraging to see five new solicitor-advocates (all City arbitration specialists) on this year’s QC list. With only seven having applied this year, it would seem to be well worth solicitors having a punt at silk (if they’re prepared to risk the £2,340 application fee).

Other notable statistics from this year’s round include the appointment of eight applicants with disabilities (none were appointed last year), two employed advocates (none were appointed last year) and 11 applicants aged over 50. The youngest successful applicant is 37, the oldest is 68.

A total of 225 lawyers applied for silk this year, with 100 having their wishes granted, meaning the success rate was 44%. Those who missed out can console themselves with the fact that they won’t have to part with the eye-catching £4,200 fee payable upon taking up the QC title.

In lighter QC-appointment news, a barrister who appeared in Your Barrister Boyfriend’s “hottie list” has built on his attractiveness gong to claim a place in the silks’ list, while popular anonymous tweeter BARRISTER HULK also appears to have bagged a place.