King’s Counsel (KC) are barristers or solicitors who have been recognized for excellence in advocacy.
They are often considered leaders in their area of law and typically take on more complex cases that require a higher level of legal expertise.
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Achieving King’s Counsel (KC) status is a recognition of excellence and one of the highest honors a lawyer can obtain.
The award is given to lawyers who have demonstrated exceptional ability in defending cases of substance, complexity or significant difficulty or sensitivity before the superior courts of England and Wales, tribunals, arbitrations or other forums.
In this one-minute video, our former CEO, Paul Tennant, explains why attorneys should apply for KC status.
The status has a long history, with the first Queen’s Counsel (QC) appointed in 1597 by Queen Elizabeth I.
In the four centuries since, only the best barristers in England and Wales have achieved KC status – also known as Queen’s Counsel in a Queen’s reign.
It is a common misconception that KC status is only open to attorneys. However, attorneys with higher audience rights have been able to become KCs since 1995.
Since then, approximately 180 lawyers have applied, of which 58 (as of 2020) have taken silk.
In 2021, five lawyers were among 101 attorneys named KC.
As a member of the King’s Council Appointments (KCA)we want to improve the diversity of applications and appointments.
We believe there are still more outstanding lawyers who could be nominated, and we are committed to encouraging more lawyers across England and Wales to apply – especially those from underrepresented groups.
Why should I apply?
KC status demonstrates to your colleagues, courts and clients that you are:
- an elite defender
- equipped to handle the most complex cases, and
- considered a leader in your field
It is also recognized worldwide as a badge of excellence, particularly in Commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, where the title is still used for their own top lawyers.
KCs also generally have more opportunities to work on complex cases than non-KC attorneys.
Amanda Brown KC explains why she applied for the King’s Counsel.
Find out why having a lawyer’s experience can be an advantage
As a lawyer, you may already possess many of the critical skills you need to successfully file a silk claim.
If you can also demonstrate complex advocacy experience, you are in a good position to apply.
Take part in a tasting session
We’re hosting virtual tasting events to help you learn more about what it’s like to be a KC and decide if it’s something you’d like to pursue in your career. You can attend anonymously if you prefer.
The first event took place in December 2021.
We will add upcoming dates to this page.
The 2022 contest ended on March 31, 2022.