SAHCA congratulates the five newest solicitor QCs to be appointed in the 2014/5 round. Each of the five (Wendy Miles, Simon Nesbitt, Audley Sheppard, Thomas Sprange and Peter Turner) competed against stiff competition from the Bar to earn this accolade, and it is to be welcomed that solicitors once again make up a part (albeit a very small one) of the appointments made.
Without taking anything away from the achievement of those individuals, however, the latest round of appointments nevertheless does nothing to alleviate SAHCA’s continuing concern about the disadvantages that solicitors as a whole suffer when putting themselves forward for recognition by the appointments panel. It will not have gone unnoticed that, just as was the case last year, all of the successful applicants are from substantial City firms, and all practise in the niche field of international arbitration. This will scarcely encourage all of the other very able and capable solicitor-advocates, practising in the diverse range of challenging fields which exist across the legal spectrum, to throw their hat into the ring in future years.
SAHCA firmly believes that solicitors, and particularly solicitor-advocates, are every bit as capable of rising to the heights of QC status as their colleagues at the Bar. We are therefore going to be continuing to work hard this year with the QC Appointments panel to address barriers to the applications of solicitor-advocates, and to work with our members to support them if they decide to make the application in the next, or any future, round. There is a great deal of unrecognised talent out there among our membership, and we are keen to see that brought into the light.