Happy Birthday Counsel!

iStock_000009472338LargeNigel Pascoe QC raises his glass to celebrate Counsel's 25th anniversary

And so, dear reader, which is it to be: a magnum of champagne or a small glass of dry sherry to celebrate a modest achievement?  Probably somewhere between the two .  Counsel has reached its 25th birthday in reasonable shape with a continuing selection of readable articles and more friends than implacable enemies.  Let that not sound too complacent.  There will always be angry readers believing, as with Punch, that it is not the magazine they remember.  In a sense they are quite right.  Counsel continues to evolve, but a discernable independent spirit still exists which continues to mirror the extraordinary panorama of the practicing and employed bar.


 

The key to success?

Back in October 1985 Gavin Purves was our first Editor (see p11), followed by Silvia Rice who was Editor between 1988 to 1997.  The Stephanie Hawthorne was in charge for ten years until 2007 (see p13).  Sarah Grainger edited until 2009, when Jayne Maynard, our current Editor, took over; together with the Commissioning and Managing Editor, Elsa Booth.

The broad picture is of an increasingly professional journal, still preserving that cherished independence, with a history of outstanding articles and extraordinary contributors.  The risk of listing is offending those whom I omit, but many names shine out and, happily, some are still with us.  Baroness Warnock, Cardinal Cormac O'Murphy, Cherie Booth QC, Lord Alexander QC, Lord Goldsmith QC, Lord Irvine, Lord Falconer, Lord Lester QC, David Pannick QC, Robert Seabrook QC and Lord Justice Sedley are a few of the names who have contributed copy and the list continues.  But the Editorial Board (now the Policy and Editorial Board) members also have made their own distinctive contributions and no more so than Martin Bowley QC, doyenne of our writers for many years.  Add as examples (and only examples) Michael Grieve QC, Mary Hughes, and David Wurtzel, now happily our Consultant Editor, and some of our Chairman, notably Christopher Frazer and Richard Jones QC.

A closer examination of all those names suggests a possible key to Counsel's relative success.  They straddle pretty comprehensively the political landscape and yet no one could pin a political party label to the magazine, even if it has veered at times in one or other direction.  We thrive because at heart we tilt towards the sheer cussedness and uncompromising instincts of the poor bloody infantry, out in the fields of independent practice .  That is not to say we have not made real efforts in recent years to represent the whole Bar.

 

Sense of optimism 

Enough. Are we too politically correct? Sometimes.  Do we campaign enough?  We could have done better.  Do we do enough for the young Bar?  No, not always.  Are we more sympathetic to an increasingly diverse audience?  If not, we shall fold away with Punch and deserve to do so.  But I am sufficiently optimistic, even in these appalling times, to remember just how uplifting it is when enthusiasm trumps despair and a really good profile reminds us how to live.  Bob Alexander QC, who was the Chairman of the Bar Council when Counsel began in 1985, led the way.

 

And offering their congratulations

"I congratulate Counsel magazine on their silver anniversary"

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke QC MP

"Counsel is to be congratulated on its 25th anniversary.  I read it while I was at the Bar and I always read it now"

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge

 

 

Nigel Pascoe QC is a former Chairman pf the Editorial Board and is currently a member of Counsel's Policy and Editorial Board

 

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