Advocacy

Becoming a QC

Queen’s Counsel (QC) are barristers or solicitor advocates who have been recognised for excellence in advocacy. They’re often seen as leaders in their area of law and generally take on more complex cases that require a higher level of legal expertise.

This page covers:

What is Queen’s Counsel?

To be awarded Queen’s Counsel (QC) status is a recognition of excellence and one of the highest honours a solicitor can attain.

The award is given to lawyers who have demonstrated exceptional ability in advocacy cases of substance, complexity, or significant difficulty or sensitivity in the higher courts of England and Wales, tribunals, arbitrations or other forums.

In this one-minute video, our former CEO, Paul Tennant, explains why solicitors should apply for QC status.

Join a taster session

We’re holding virtual taster events to help you learn more about what it means to be a QC and decide whether 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'll add upcoming dates to this page.

2022 competition

The 2022 competition is now open.

The deadline to apply is 5pm on Thursday 31 March.

Visit the Queen's Counsel Appointments (QCA) website for details on applying

Resources

QC Appointments website

Case studies with solicitor advocates:

Law Gazette article: How to become a QC

How to apply

QCs are selected by an independent panel of senior lawyers, a retired judge and non-lawyers once a year in what is known as the competition.

Applying to become a QC can take between three and five years, so it’s important to prepare far ahead.

The application process is detailed and requires applicants to display significant levels of complex advocacy experience. Crafting a successful application is achievable providing you can demonstrate relevant experience and give yourself plenty of time ahead of the deadline.

The process has four broad steps.

The most important thing to show is extensive experience of complex written and oral advocacy, which can take years to accrue.

In this three-minute video below, Therese Prince discusses the specific advocacy experience you’ll need to submit a successful application.

Read the competency framework carefully before starting your application.

Before you apply, check that you have:

  • enough experience to meet the criteria
  • strong enough evidence to use

If you’re not quite ready to apply, we recommend making an action plan of how you plan to fill any experience gaps before applying in the future.

Application is a lengthy process, so leave plenty of time.

Take time to draft and redraft each of your answers to give yourself the best possible chance of progressing to the next stage.

We recommend showing your application to others for feedback, particularly if they are QCs themselves and have been through the process.

You’ll also need to identify several assessors who have seen you perform in court and can support your application. These could be:

  • judges
  • solicitor advocates
  • clients

Give yourself plenty of time to approach people and ask if they’d be willing to act as an assessor.

Read the guidance for assessors

If your application is successful, you’ll be invited to a 45-minute interview with two members of the selection panel. They’ll ask questions relating to your application and assessors' comments.

If you’re successful at interview, the panel will recommend you to the lord chancellor, who’ll confirm your appointment as a QC.

Should your application be unsuccessful, you’ll receive detailed feedback and can reapply in the future.

Mentors

Working with a mentor who has already been through the process can help with your QC application.

We encourage you to reach out to solicitor QCs in your network and ask them about the possibility of mentoring.

If you’re already a solicitor QC and would be interested in mentoring a prospective QC applicant, get in touch with our policy adviser, Baljit Matharu.

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