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Revealed: The top barristers by Supreme Court appearances

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Academic Dr Mikołaj Barczentewicz crunches the numbers to compile lawyer league table

Research has revealed the identity of the top 20 barristers in the UK by Supreme Court appearances.

The government’s go-to brief Sir James Eadie QC tops the list of appearances over the past decade, followed by Richard Drabble QC of Landmark Chambers and Martin Chamberlain QC of Brick Court Chambers (now a High Court judge).

Lord Pannick QC comes in fourth, but easily tops a similar list of appearances over the past 50 years.

Four of the 20 are women, according to Dr Mikołaj Barczentewicz, who compiled this ‘Barristers Premier League’ while researching gender balance in Supreme Court appearances.

Top 20 barristers by Supreme Court appearances, 2011-2020 inclusive

Rank Cases Name Chambers
1. 65 Sir James Eadie QC Blackstone
2. 28 Richard Drabble QC Landmark
3. 24 Martin Chamberlain QC Brick Court (now a judge)
24 Lord Pannick QC Blackstone
24 Hugh Southey QC Matrix
4. 22 Michael Fordham QC Blackstone (now a judge)
5. 20 Jason Coppel QC 11KBW
6. 19 Karon Monaghan QC Matrix
7. 18 Dinah Rose QC Blackstone
18 Aidan O’Neill QC Ampersand Advocates/Matrix
8. 17 Lord Keen QC Axiom Advocates/Blackstone
17 Jonathan Swift QC 11KBW (now a judge)
9. 16 Ben Jaffey QC Blackstone
16 Jonathan Crow QC 4 Stone Buildings
16 Henry Setright QC 4PB
16 Robin Tam QC Temple Garden
10. 15 Robin Allen QC Cloisters
11. 14 Nathalie Lieven QC Blackstone (formerly Landmark, now a judge)
14 Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC Doughty Street
14 Jude Bunting Doughty Street
Source: Dr Mikołaj Barczentewicz, University of Surrey. More data at https://courts.barczentewicz.com/.

He found that women now account for 25% of barristers arguing before the Supremes and rising. That compares with women making up 36% of barristers (in England and Wales).

But, Barczentewicz says, “the gender balance among the more senior counsel is not as good and has not been clearly improving over the most recent years”.

That makes it all the more important for the top QCs to give women experience as juniors in Supreme Court cases.

Of the top 20 listed above, those most likely to bring women in as juniors were Ben Jaffey QC (67% female juniors), Robin Allen QC (63%), Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC (56%), Mike Fordham QC (55%), Karon Monaghan QC (55%) and Robin Tam QC (53%).

There’s also a league table covering 1970-2020, with Pannick the runaway winner on 124 appearances. Dinah Rose QC is the only woman in that list.

Barczentewicz works at the Law and Technology Hub at University of Surrey School of Law. His Supreme Court gender project involved writing thousands of lines of code to link the names on court judgments to barrister records databases.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

35 Comments

Durham Grad

Glad to see three or four from my alma mater there – proof we can mix with the best and that Doxbridge shouldn’t be laughed at

(7)(129)

Oxon (BCL)

There’s a reason why people insult Durham and you’re proving them right.

(468)(2)

Just wonderin'

Which Oxbridge college rejected you, DG?

(9)(0)

Hippopotanna

Durham, cream of England, rich and thick.

(8)(1)

Crikey

Jesus who has upvoted and downvoted these comments hundreds of times? What is wrong with you?

(2)(1)

Giraffe

Guys, there are comprehensive-school educated students at Durham. Let’s not laugh at them all.

(2)(3)

Anon

Spot the uppity grammar school kid

A

Shows how much Court time is wasted by public law and human rights. We really need to tighten up the challenges to stop delays and added costs to the introduction of laws supported by ordinary hard working taxpayers.

(17)(30)

Question

Why/ how have we got to the point where demonstrating ‘diversity’ is one of 5 metrics on a silk application form? I can’t understand why that is relevant. I don’t care if my pilot or surgeon has joined some school board as a trustee so why does it matter for a barrister

(17)(2)

Anon

Why are the only diversity statistics to do with gender? A bit odd…

(24)(1)

Neha

Lack of ethnic diversity speaks volumes.

(11)(20)

Anon

Yawn. That is the problem when people live in victim mentality echo chambers. They fail to see the current tailwinds they have.

(10)(8)

And you wonder why people speak up?

Yawn. Another person with zero empathy for BAME people. They fail to see reality for what it is.

(9)(17)

Anon

What I don’t have is empty for self-pitying whiners. No need for it.

(9)(4)

Edwin

It does speak volumes. For instance, there are plenty of black barristers doing criminal trials, family cases or other common law work. However, there are a dearth of black appellate advocates doing public law, chancery or commercial work.

With the exception of Doughty Street, the sets listed above generally don’t take on black pupils (or have black barristers at all). Matrix had a black pupil some years back, but he wasn’t kept on as a tenant. Their websites tell the tale. Whether it is an issue of black aspiring barristers not applying to these sets in great numbers, or these sets being discriminatory in their recruitment processes, is something that should be scrutinised further.

The integrity of the Bar depends on chambers giving all aspiring barristers a fair shot to prove themselves, without recourse to prejudice.

(15)(32)

Buhldohg

This is best read with the sound of a thousand tiny violins whining in the background.

(15)(9)

QCs Without 1sts LLP

Hear hear.

‘Diversity’ schemes and chambers scholarships are a joke when there is literally nothing stopping chambers from choosing to take on Black pupils.

No, your chambers isn’t ‘committed to diversity’ – you are committed to your own PR and overwhelming sense of embarrassment.

(12)(11)

Anonn

Fantastic work Barczentewicz!

What about producing something similar to show the appearances of BAME barristers?

(10)(18)

Anon

Why? When there is likely about a 20 year lag between entering the profession and getting to speak in the Supreme Court and many listed have been practising for 30 or more years, what would this data show other than reflect entry representations from 25 or 30 years ago? Pointless and inane request. Just wanting meaningless data to fuel some positive discrimination or quota demand no doubt. Worried your ability is not enough?

(28)(9)

WT Actual F?

What chambers or law firm actually operates a ‘quota’ for BAME applicants and rejects White applicants on a numerical basis??

Literally, name one.

(3)(4)

Anonymous

cool data, don’t know what can be inferred from it though
Blackstone/Brick Court etc were always the dominant sets in their respective areas of practice and we knew that already

(0)(1)

Vlad the Inhaler

I see the like/dislike spammers are out in force again. Always lurking on matters of race, gender and class.

Pitiful. Our profession has a long way to go.

(12)(76)

Voivode of Wallachia

Agreed, one day the self-pitying woke whingers will just get on with their job and try to make it on merits. Sadly with all these quotas and diversity gibberish there is a long long way to go until that day, as you say.

(14)(10)

Ocarina of Cant

Many people are already working to make it on merit. They study hard, gain excellent qualifications and seek to apply self-accountability in all quarters of life.

Ironically, they are at risk of being denied opportunities because of the prejudice of gatekeepers. Racism, sexism and classism are some of the most virulently anti-meritocratic practises happening in the workplace today. These ideologies judge people on their perceived attributes rather than their actual merits. This helps no one progress, except an unmeritorious select few.

Hopefully more intelligent people like yourself can help squash such ‘gibberish’ ideologies for the next generation of lawyers. Are you in support?

(9)(9)

Anon

There is classism, I’ll give you that. But the profession is not only doing nothing about it. Worse, it is ignoring classism as it manically obsesses about gender and ethnicity quotas. Addressing classism would make the alleged issues about ethnicity discrimination all but disappear. I don’t see any evidence that more needs to be done to address alleged sexism, there already is rampant positive discrimination in place and entrenched.

(9)(3)

LOL

Ah yes, the lack of Black people in London commercial chambers is just ‘alleged’.

It is pathetic to be jealous of the attention given to BAME applicants. Why can’t you accept that they might be as meritorious and capable as any ‘working class’ applicant?

James

And matters of intellect. (Durham is pants.)

(5)(1)

Anon

The Durham educated lawyers will be weeping at the comment section.

(3)(1)

Anon

Like they did when they received their rejection letters from Oxbridge.

(4)(1)

NotsoSecretMarxistlolz

The issue is that the Bar represents the very best and worst of British society. On the one hand, we have history, tradition and worldwide respect. On the other, we have rampant classism, sexism and racism. Unfortunately, it is the other hand which holds sway. The Bar is not a meritocracy, it’s a rigged game. Anyone who claims otherwise, is either stupidly naive or the puppet masters/agent of those lies. With that said: Aspiring barristers unite, you have nothing to lose but your chance of pupillage.

(7)(6)

It’s Tough Being Privileged

There’s no lie here.

If you are White, privately educated with a solicitor parent and have friends from the debating club who can give you BCL notes, you will have a much greater chance of pupillage than other applicants.

You will not have ‘worked harder’ for it than others. It’s simply being born to the right people at the right place.

As much as barristers might try to desperately publicly launder their reputation by occasionally giving a bit of loose change to Syria, they will always pick applicants who remind them of themselves.

(6)(12)

Anon

Must be tragic to be such a victim.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Never as much as the self-styled ‘working class’

(0)(0)

Redbrick and Proud

The current President of the QBD went to Bristol.

(2)(4)

Str8talker

Agree. All those thumbs down just show how blind some peeps are. Matrix used to be radical, they’re now just typical. If you look at the recent trainees pretty much all are oxbridge educated. Why else do you think that many of their founders have left and jumped off ship to other shores? The Bar is pretty rotten, inside and out. Its a profession for trustfund kids.

(4)(9)

Comments are closed.

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