Record year for female and ethnic minority Silk appointments

More female and black and minority ethnic candidates were appointed Queen’s Counsel than ever before.

Queen’s Counsel Appointments (QCA)announced the appointment of 113 new Silks, from 254 who applied. Thirty-one women, 55% of the 56 applicants, were successful, up from the 25 out of 48 last year.

There was a rise in the percentage of those from a black and minority ethnic (BAME) background whose applications succeeded – 16 (43%) of 37 were awarded Silk, compared to nine out of 32 last year.

Eight of the nine applicants who said they were gay or bisexual, two of the four with a disability and six of 13 solicitors who applied, were appointed. The youngest new Silk was 37 and the oldest 65.

Congratulating the new appointees, the Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss, said: ‘I want us to tap into all the talents of our society and today’s appointments are a step in the right direction. The number of women and BAME candidates applying and being successful is moving in the right direction.’

She added: ‘There is more to be done, but my message is clear – when you widen the pool of talent from which lawyers and judges are drawn, you make the justice system stronger.’

Helen Pitcher OBE, Chairman of the QCA Selection Panel, said she would like to see more female applicants and that research to identify barriers which deter women from applying would be published later this year. (See also 'QC Q&A', Counsel, February 2017)

The new QCs will formally become Silks at the ceremony on 13 February.