‘UK’s top barrister’ fined by Bar Standards Board over website boasts

But legendary topcriminalqc.co.uk site lives on

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2 Bedford Row silk Michael Wolkind QC has been reprimanded and hit with a £1,000 fine for claims made on his website about his status as a “top barrister”.

Topcriminalqc.co.uk — which was first brought to the legal profession’s attention in 2012 by Legal Cheek — contained a host of claims which the Bar Standard Board (BSB) have deemed “likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public”.

The assertions, which are detailed in full in the published finding below, include the statement that “Michael Wolkind QC was the UK’s top criminal barrister”, and “was widely recognised as the UK’s top murder barrister and QC; top protest case barrister and QC; top terrorism barrister and QC; top property householder self-defence rights barrister and QC and top regulatory, inquest health and safety and tribunal barrister and QC”.

A screenshot from Wolkind's old website
A screenshot from Wolkind’s old website

Wolkind was also sanctioned for including a client testimonial expressing his view that “Michael Wolkind QC could get Stevie Wonder a driving licence”.

The BSB took action following an unsuccessful appeal by one of Wolkind’s client’s against a murder conviction which included an allegation that the top QC had been “wholly incompetent”. Wolkind was cleared of misconduct. But during the hearing, topcriminalqc.co.uk was brought to the attention of presiding judge Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, who said at the time:

Our attention was drawn to Mr Wolkind’s personal website. We were surprised at its content and tone. However whether it is within the proper bounds of professional conduct for a member of the bar, particularly one who has had since 1999 the status of being one of Her Majesty’s Counsel, is a matter which we direct be referred to the Bar Standards Board for their consideration.

Wolkind’s website has since been substantially amended, but it remains online. Defiantly, a host of gushing client testimonials continue in place, including:

You are the most talented man I have ever met… you have given me my life back… you are awesome.

While another former client proclaims:

Mr Wolkind will fight with the judge, make love to the jury and leave the prosecution wondering what just happened to their dead cert case!

Read the BSB finding in full below:

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32 Comments

Proudboobs

What’s the going rate for claiming to be a “Mozart of the courtroom?”

(22)(1)
Anonymous

He’s ugly and bald, I wouldn’t instruct him. Poor genetics.

(5)(7)
Pupil supervisor

You’d definitely Sh*g him though, wouldn’t you!!

(3)(2)
Anonymous

no hairline, no sex. you’re probably the kind of receding maxilla, weak-jawed negative canthal tilt cuck who thinks that it’s what’s on the inside that matters

flush yourself

(2)(3)
Trumpenkrieg

Nothing wrong with having a bit of chutzpah, especially in a field dominated by clerkish bores.

(5)(7)
Anonymous

Can I suggest a correction:
The BSB don’t make findings. They prosecute charges of professional misconduct etc. It is BTAS (Bar Tribunals) who make findings. Saying ‘BSB findings’ is like saying ‘CPS judgment’.

(25)(1)
Top Anon

You have been waiting for years to use the word ‘top’ so many times in one article with justification.

(7)(1)
A barrister

I just don’t understand what’s wrong with the Stevie Wonder comment if, as does not seem to have been disputed, it was genuinely something said/written by a lay client about him. It was obviously intended by the lay client as humorous hyperbole. Why should Wolkind not rely on it on his website? Why does him doing so diminish trust and confidence in Wolkind (who cares about that anyway?) or the profession?

I genuinely don’t understand. I can only assume that this was a particularly po-faced Tribunal with no sense of humour.

(14)(4)
Anonymous

The implication being that he can assist clients evade the law; i.e. Stevie Wonder should not be driving.

(4)(8)
Anonymous

helping clients to evade the law is the entire job description of criminal lawyers

(6)(12)
Sandman

The job of a defence barrister is to assist a client with avoiding criminal sanctions, yes. But it doesn’t quite extend to facilitating crimes. Facilitating a blind man to get a driving licence would be a crime.

It might have been a tongue-in-cheek comment, but I don’t think it’s becoming of a barrister to promote themselves with jokey comments about helping people to commit crimes. Even if Wolkind has the most honourable of intentions, it could be taken as a nod and a wink by clients who are looking for a corrupt barrister.

(4)(3)
Anonymous

£1,000 means it was all worth it – his boasts probably earned him more in fees.

(11)(3)
Scouser of Counsel

I’m still in the top 11,000 barristers around.

Should I put that on my own website?

(9)(10)
Rzbg

If you have your own website as a barrister doesn’t that generally make you a knob?

(4)(13)
Anonymous

Scouser’s comment was ambiguous as to whether he/she actually has a website or whether he/she should get their own website with said comment on it.

#epicfail

(3)(2)
Anonymous

Perhaps he read Legal Cheek so frequently he started to believe anybody can claim to be a Top Lawyer.

(8)(1)
Anonymous

His website still says he’s “one of” the UK’s top QCs. How he can make this claim when he is not even called in Scotland or NI, let alone practised there, beats me.

(2)(5)
Anonymous

His website still says he’s “one of” the UK’s top QCs. How he can make this claim when he is not even called in Scotland or NI, let alone practised there, beats me!

(2)(5)
Anonymous

The line “Michael Wolkind QC could get Stevie Wonder a driving licence” is not original. It was first used by Bernard Manning, the one-time northern stand-up comedian, about George Carman QC.

(3)(0)

Comments are closed.