Supreme Court: Why Amal Clooney could (in theory) be next to serve on the bench

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By Katie King on

And nine more lawyers poised for the judiciary’s celebrity status


With the Daily Mail and co reeling from this week’s Brexit legal challenge judgment, the right-wing media may be pleased to note the Supreme Court bench is due a makeover.

A whole host of statutory retirement dates are coming up in the next few years, meaning six spots will need to be filled by the end of 2018.

And while you might assume top, top, top lawyers will fill these vacancies, the Supreme Court’s eligibility criteria is surprisingly thin.

According to the relevant legislation, a person satisfies the judicial appointment eligibility conditions if they qualified as a barrister or solicitor at least 15 years ago and have been gaining experience in law during this post-qualification period.

What qualifies as law-related experience is pretty vague. Though practice as a lawyer is an obvious box tick, so is teaching or researching law, being an arbitrator, drafting documents intended to affect persons’ rights or obligations, and “any activity that, in the relevant decision-maker’s opinion, is of a broadly similar nature” to this.

With that in mind, here is a list of Legal Cheek’s ten favourite lawyers all of who could qualify for Supreme Court stardom.

1. Human rights barrister Amal Clooney


At 38-years-old, Clooney would be a spring chicken if she was elevated to the Supreme Court bench. But, having qualified at the New York bar about 15 years ago, she may well be eligible for an appeal court stint come the swathe of retirements. She might need to gain some more United Kingdom-based experience first, but watch this space.

2. The email spat KWM partners

kwm emails

Timothy Taylor QC — father of ex-Made in Chelsea star Hugo Taylor — and New-York based lawyer George Pinkham entered into a war of words over the demise of King & Wood Mallesons. At one point Taylor even cracked a “C U Next Tuesday” gag. Perhaps this no-nonsense approach is just what the Daily Mail is looking for.

3. Blogging barrister Matthew Scott


The criminal lawyer was called to the bar back in 1985, but would Matthew Scott be prepared to ditch his, often very opinionated, blog for Supreme Court celebrity-status?

4. The judge who called a defendant a c***

c bomb

Judge Patricia Lynch was cleared of misconduct earlier this year after she called a defendant a c*** during sentencing. Regardless of her advocacy experience, Lynch would also be entitled to fill a Supreme Court seat because she has been a judge for over two years. Maybe some straight talking is what the court needs?

5. Legal journalist Joshua Rozenberg


Joshua Rozenberg QC qualified as a solicitor back in 1976 and has been writing about the law ever since. Whether this would qualify as law-related activity for statutory purposes we’re not sure, but we think Rozenberg has taught more people about the law (including Legal Cheek readers) than most academics have.

6. Controversial barrister Barbara Hewson


Called to the bar in 1985, Mansfield 1 Gray’s Inn Chambers’ Barbara Hewson is seemingly qualified for the bench. We wonder how the selection panel would view her foul-mouthed Twitter rants and contentious calls for the age of consent to be lowered to 13…

7. King of LinkedIn Dominic D’Souza

Image via D'Souza Blog
Image via D’Souza Blog

Not only is Dominic D’Souza a crime specialist at Goldsmith Chambers, he also has a funny LinkedIn page. Supreme Court bench material right there.

8. The judge who got really angry about his lost luggage


Readers may recall Peter Smith is the top judge who used a judgment involving British Airways to rant about some of his luggage the company had lost while he was visiting Italy. Happy days: having racked up forty years of experience in law, he would meet the Supreme Court’s eligibility criteria.

9. BoJo’s wife Marina Wheeler


Now a QC, Marina Wheeler was called to the bar back in 1987 and is a tenant at One Crown Office Row. Though this makes Wheeler eligible, remember the Brexit legal challenge fiasco over Lord Neuberger’s wife and some tweets she made? Now imagine Boris Johnson. Case closed.

10. The barrister whose Twitter picture was him in his boxers


Criminal defence specialist Stephen Kamlish QC appeared to commit a major social media no-no late last year, punting for a profile picture of himself wearing nothing but his pants. He sounds the perfect candidate for the bench.

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