Magic circle QC trades commercial bar megabucks for unpaid government gig

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David Wolfson says farewell to One Essex Court millions

David Wolfson QC

One of the leading commercial barristers in the country has swapped his big money life at a magic circle chambers for an unpaid government gig.

David Wolfson QC says farewell to One Essex Court, whose leading silks pull in millions a year, to take a post at the Ministry of Justice. The trade off is a life peerage (which means he can call himself ‘Baron’) and a place in the House of Lords.

Fellow top lawyers have expressed admiration for the move, seemingly impressed that such a highly paid silk would give it all up to join Boris Johnson’s government.

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“Congratulations to a real legal heavyweight, and a lovely man,” wrote Dinah Rose QC on Twitter, cheekily adding to speculation by journalist Joshua Rozenberg that this may just be the first step on a journey for Wolfson: “The suggestion in this piece that he might replace Stella Braverman as AG is an excellent one. His expertise and integrity put him in a different league. Let’s hope they aren’t seen as a disadvantage…”

Another, Steven Barrett, the barrister and Spectator columnist, wrote:

“Huge congratulations to David Wolfson QC. He is a titan of the Bar and one of our finest legal minds. It should come as great comfort to everyone that someone so able is willing to serve his country.”

In the unlikely event that University of Cambridge grad Wolfson, 52, has spent the last quarter of a century frittering away his massive earnings, he will find comfort in the House of Lords attendance allowance of up to £305 per day plus travel expenses. Not all members of the House claim this.

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He’s entitled to claim a ministerial salary…


Joshua Rozenberg

He’s not.


Mr C

There is a limit on how many ministers can receive a salary.



WOW! This is what we want to see, top lawyers giving back to society. Very impressive – not many would do this.



I suspect you’ll find between pro Bono work and charitable causes, a lot of “top lawyers” are giving back to society.

It would be nice if more would go into public service, but given the public’s hatred for politicians on top of the (relatively) middling pay can you blame those who don’t?



Lawyers are for hire esp barristers who grovel for a few peanuts for the first 15 yrs of their lives and invariably live off Mummy and Daddy well into their mid 30s.

Like prostitutes they quickly learn to say or do anything for some dosh.

Since most young barristers lose any moral compass it takes a helluva of a long time for any barrister or solicitor to regain any moral compass.

No doubt after 1 or 2 yrs ‘working pro bono’ for hapless Boris he will return to his previous trade armed with his new list of contacts for himself and his chambers.

There are millions of genuine people who give of their time for free and seek no reward at all.

At best I suspect he is maybe salving his conscience in the same way as the worst corporate criminals and rogues invariably throw a few of their ill gotten crumbs to a charity and seek honours.

If he is in a commercial set he will have rubbed shoulders with and dined frequently with odious corporate rogues who evade and avoid the taxman, steal pensions and rip off ‘little people’. After all it is gaining the favour of judges and building up good contacts via Inn dinners and social events with the right judges that is what these corporate rogues are buying.



Glad to see Warwick graduates have finally learnt how to use an internet browser. Less glad we have to read their comments.



An admirable move. An extremely credible and talented lawyer.



It would be good if he replaced that obscure common law hack from the Birmingham Bar as AG.


Abnormal Person

I know, I couldn’t believe that there were lawyers from OUTSIDE London when I first heard either, but it turns out there are!

LOADS of ’em!

*** SUBTEXT – Your inclusion of “from the Birmingham Bar” in your comment suggests that you are somewhat of a tool.


Lincoln's Inn

There are indeed lots of lawyers outside London, and they are there because they are not good enough to practise in London.



The AG was picked because she had a suitably Brexity twitter history. Tragic but true.



Silk made a peer. Hardly news. He would surely continue private practice in the future – with the added kudos of a peerage



Exactly, back in private practice after several years in government may result in him having an even higher rate than before with the additional kudos of a peerage and potentially being a former AG. Look at Lord Goldsmith QC for instance.

In any case, it would be good if he replaces the current mediocre AG with her merely honorary QC status and manifest disdain for the judiciary.



He looks like an egg


Kim Wexler

Yes, he is a tad ovoid. The notion that he is doing this for the common good rather that self interest is risible. Having made a lot of money, he now veers of into the politics and the public sector and collects a peerage to boot – all great for the CV and the perfect launchpad for maximising earnings in the future. But here’s the thing – what is a man of expertise and integrity doing in the Johnson administration? Attributes which will not endear him to our PM. As for replacing SB as AG, not a chance. Johnson needs exactly the sort of AG she is – third rate and compliant.


Lorraine Mccoll

If a Pensioner can prove they need it their Attendance Allowance is nothing like £305 a day – not a month. Lets sort out the people that need it rather than Johnsons chumocracy gang. Please.


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