The Bar Council has snubbed one of its most senior members - commercial silk Jonathan Hirst QC - by electing relative newcomer Daniel Brennan QC to the post of vice-chairman.
Brennan, one of the country's leading personal injury silks, also defeated Nigel Pascoe QC and Julian Malins QC in the contest. Traditionally, the vice-chairman automatically takes over as chairman once he or she has completed a year in the post.
The result was announced last Thursday, and Brennan was unavailable for comment on his victory.
However, in his election manifesto he listed fighting for "reasonable remuneration" and "providing excellent service with efficient chambers" as being among his priorities.
Matthias Kelly, secretary of the Personal Injury Bar Association, which Brennan led until the beginning of this year, was delighted with the result.
Kelly said: "He is an innovator, and a man who will apply a very practical approach to the problems facing the Bar."
Brennan was only elected to the Bar Council last year while Hirst - who was regarded as the favourite - has held his seat for 10 years and is chair of the powerful professional standards committee.
One insider said Brennan's election reflected a recognition that the Bar needed someone well-versed in legal aid and civil justice issues at the helm at a time when the government would be pushing through its cost-cutting legal reforms.
Brennan will take over from Heather Hallett QC as vice-chairman of the Bar Council when she becomes its chairman at the beginning of next year.