Over half of BME applicants successful this year
One hundred and nineteen barristers have been named as new QCs today, as the latest round of appointments marks a small but positive step for diversity at the bar.
This year, 18 black and minority ethnic (BME) lawyers have been awarded silk, the highest number ever. Given that 33 BME lawyers applied for the title, this means 55% received the nod. This is a notable improvement on the past two years’ success rates of 43% and 28%, though do note that in 2010 the stat was 60%.
The ethnic diversity of the bar’s upper echelons has been a cause for concern this year. Earlier this summer, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) released stats that showed just 6% of silks are from BME backgrounds. The report goes on to suggest that “this indicates an issue in relation to the progression of BME practitioners”.
Gender diversity has been an issue too, so spectators will likely be pleased to find out that success rates were also up among 2017 female applicants. From 50 QC hopefuls, 32 were ultimately successful (64%), trumping 2016’s rate of 55% and 2015’s 52%. But men still continue to dominate. Of the 119 new silks unveiled today, 87 are men (73%), matching last year’s result and representing a slight decrease on 2015 (77%).
Interestingly, the total percentage of applications given the thumbs up by the Queen’s Counsel Appointments’ commission was down this year. Roughly 44% of applicants were successful, down half a percentage point on last year’s stat.
Aside from the emotional disappointment of not being successful, it’s not cheap to apply either. For the 2017 competition aspiring silks had to fork out £1,800, plus value added tax (VAT), to be considered. And if you’re successful? That will cost you a further £3,000, plus VAT.
A big congratulations to all those who have made QC.