22 Dec 2021

A&O, Freshfields, HSF, King & Spalding and Three Crowns celebrate as new Silks are unveiled

Some 45% of latest QCs are women; ‘comparatively few’ advocates from black African or black Caribbean backgrounds applied

Formal portrait photos of Ruth Byrne and Chris Parker

Two of the new law firm QCs: Ruth Byrne and Chris Parker

Five solicitor advocates have successfully completed the selection process for England & Wales's award for excellence in advocacy joining a total of 101 lawyers who will be appointed as Queen’s Counsel in the new year. 
 
The arbitration specialists hail from King & Spalding, Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and boutique Three Crowns – the tally of successful solicitor advocates is identical to last year when the contingent was predominantly drawn from US law firms
 
Ruth Byrne of King & Spalding said: "I am thrilled to be recognised alongside this line-up of very talented and diverse advocates." 
 
Byrne, who joins Tom Sprange QC and John Savage QC as the US firm's third solicitor-silk, added: "Throughout my career to date I have enjoyed guidance and support from colleagues - too numerous to name here, who have in no small part contributed to this achievement and to whom I am hugely grateful."
 
Kate Davies McGill, a partner at Allen & Overy, was also appointed, making up for Matthew Gearing QC's exit to Fountain Court in April, while Gaetan Verhoosel, a founding partner at Three Crowns, becomes the fourth QC in that firm's partnership
 
Verhoosel's elevation places the boutique's advocates on a par with Skadden Arps with four silks; he joins Constantine Partasides QC, Reza Mohtashami QC, and Georgios Petrochilos QC ­– all former Freshfields lawyers – as the firm's fourth silk.
 
Freshfields, meanwhile, saw Sylvia Noury, the head of the firm's arbitration practice, appointed; with Ben Juratowitch QC and Nigel Rawding QC this year exiting to join Essex Court and Twenty Essex, the firm's silk presence has dropped from seven to five, still the highest concentration of silks among the Magic Circle UK law firms. 
 
HSF, meanwhile, celebrated Chris Parker's appointment, which makes up for the departures of solicitor Adam Johnson QC and barrister Tom Leech QC for the High Court bench in 2020 and 2021 respectively
 
Parker is the third QC currently practising at HSF, joining global head of arbitration Paula Hodges and Hong Kong-based Simon Chapman.

"Chris is an extremely talented advocate, and we are very proud of this richly deserved appointment," said Hodges. "It reflects Chris's legal excellence and demonstrates the high esteem in which arbitrators, clients and his peers hold him. It also reflects the high calibre of talent and the bench strength of the firm's market-leading disputes practice."

Parker told this title: "It's a huge honour.  I'm thrilled and incredibly grateful to everyone who has mentored and supported me along the way."

As with last year, Essex Court Chambers had the most extensive cadre of barristers succeed in this year's round, with six appointees, namely Neil Hart, Edward Brown, Jeremy Brier, Tim Akkouh, Emily Wood and Lucas Bastin. That tally was one more than last year.
 
The total number of appointees was significantly less than in 2021, when 116 appointments made thre grade, although the percentage of women appointed – 45% – was the highest yet. Forty-five women from 72 applicants were successful.
 
Some 39% of those applying from non-white ethnicities were successful – 15 of the 38 who applied. However, their success rate was lower than in 2021, when 46% of non-white applicants succeeded. 
 
While the proportion of successful ethnic minority appointees broadly equalled their share of the profession, QC appointment panel chair Sir Alex Allan said: "It is disappointing that within that group, there [were] comparatively few applicants from black African or black Caribbean backgrounds."
 

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