Advocacy

Applying for QC status as a solicitor: Amanda Brown QC

Like many solicitor advocates, Amanda Brown QC was not always aware that she could apply for Queen’s Counsel (QC) status. She found out that she was eligible thanks to an offhand conversation at an event.

Amanda Brown QC rides a red, electric hire bike on a London street. She is a white woman, wearing a Queen's Counsel's black robes and white wig. She's holding an embossed, red folder and smiling at the camera.

“I was at a judicial conference and one of the judges said to me: ‘Have you ever thought about taking silk?’

“I looked at her – and I looked a bit blank – then smiled and said: ‘But I'm not a barrister.’

“‘Oh, you don't need to be,’ she said. I then thought: ‘Okay why not? I'll give it a go.’”

Ever since she was a child, Amanda had always wanted to be a lawyer. She recalls being inspired by the ITV programme Crown Court, as well as Barbara Calvert QC who was a close family friend and the first woman to become a Head of Chambers in 1974. Amanda studied a Law and Accounting degree at the University of Manchester and combined these disciplines by becoming a solicitor specialising in tax law.

Avoid self-filtering

Despite finding out she was eligible to apply for silk, Amanda faced doubts while filling out her application as she believed she was too different from what Queen’s Counsel Appointments (QCA) were looking for. Describing a conversation on the phone with her colleague she said: “I’m not posh enough, I’m not barrister enough, and I’m not the same enough. This is ridiculous.” 

Amanda Brown QC is a white woman, wearing a Queen's Counsel's black robes and white wig. She's holding an embossed, red folder and looking out from behind a stone archway, smiling at the camera.Amanda’s colleague reminded her that if all solicitor advocates self-filtered to the point where they were put off applying, there would never be any solicitors taking silk. They went as far as to tell Amanda if she did not apply, they would send in the application on her behalf.

The QC application form is infamously long, as the QCA are incredibly selective about who they invite to interview. Many applicants spend a long time preparing their applications and Amanda was no different.

I started by pulling together a profile of my best 12 cases and took a year preparing myself, and writing and honing my application.”

Amanda’s application was successful and she was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 2020.

Amanda's tips for solicitor advocates

Amanda Brown QC stands in front of the Royal Courts of Justice. She is a white woman, wearing a Queen's Counsel's black robes and white wig. She's holding an embossed, red folder and smiling at the camera.For others thinking of following in her footsteps, she has some words of advice.

“Be yourself. There were lots of times throughout the process where I kept thinking about the fact that I needed to be a male, middle-aged barrister in a shirt and tie. However, I realised that the only way to succeed was to be me.

“In addition to this, seek counsel and support from people around you. Share your application form and be open to being challenged on it. Take the advice, listen to it and adapt, but ultimately just be you.”

Interested in applying for QC status? Read our guide

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