Record numbers of women and ethnic minorities have achieved the legal rank of Queen’s Counsel (QC) under a new independent appointments scheme.
In the first year of the new system, 68 women – more than ever – applied to be QCs, with 33 succeeding. Ten ethnic minority applicants were successful, beating the previous high of seven.
The independent panel bases its recommendations solely on evidence from applications, interviews and references, replacing the old system in which appointments were made by the lord chancellor.
The title of QC shows seniority and allows practitioners to charge higher fees.
Sir Duncan Nichol, chairman of the Queen’s Counsel Selection Panel, rejected suggestions that the new process could cause resentment among men applying for the title.
“It was an entirely evidence-based process,” he said. “We have no quotas. There were significant changes in the process and the expectation was that would lead to a different outcome, which we believe it did.
“They are a broad and more diverse list, particularly with women candidates coming through strongly and in increasing numbers and with a higher success rate than in the past.”