Victoria to give senior barristers option to become QCs

Attorney-General Robert Clark today announced that Victorian Senior Counsel will in future have the option to be appointed as Queen’s Counsel upon application.

The move follows a request to the Government from the Victorian Bar Council to give senior barristers the choice of being known as Senior Counsel (SCs) or Queen’s Counsel (QCs).

Attorney-General Robert Clark said giving barristers a choice between the titles would allow those barristers who so wished to be able to benefit from the awareness of the seniority and standing that comes with the long-standing title of QC.

“Allowing senior Victorian barristers the option to be appointed as QCs will help Victorian barristers to ensure full recognition of their experience, skills and expertise both within the Asia-Pacific region and within Australia,” Mr Clark said.

“At present, barristers from the UK or other jurisdictions who have the title QC are often regarded by non-lawyer clients as being more senior than Victorian SCs, and many senior Victorian barristers consider this has placed them at a competitive disadvantage.

“SCs are also often mistaken for “Special Counsel”, a title that many large law firms use to designate senior solicitors.”

The reforms will not change the current arrangements under which barristers are appointed as Senior Counsel by the Chief Justice with the support of an advisory committee.

However, existing and future SCs who wish to be appointed as Queen’s Counsel will be recommended to the Governor for appointment upon application. Those existing and future SCs who wish to continue to be known as SCs will be able to do so.

“This reform will ensure that senior Victorian barristers have an option that can help them ensure they are recognised for the experience and expertise that they undoubtedly have,” Mr Clark said.

“The reform will further strengthen the opportunities for the Victorian legal profession to provide their services not only in other Australian jurisdictions, but throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”