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Criminal cases are the ones that hit the headlines, from the Rose-mary West trial to James Bulger and the more technical fraud cases such as Barlow Clowes and Maxwell.
And it is the criminal lawyers who get the glory and the brickbats. With such pressures, leading criminal practitioners are looking for silks who are "hungry and ready for a good fight as well as being rattling good advocates".
This list is not exhaustive, but is based on the subjective recommendations of leading criminal solicitors who practise in both general crime and white collar crime. As one partner explains: "They must all have good intellectual abilities. But they should also have a sense of determination, the ability to take on something impossible and make it possible."
The creme de la creme for criminal work are, in no particular order: Richard Ferguson QC, who heads the set at 1 Crown Office Row, and Michael Mansfield QC at 14 Tooks Court. Anthony Scrivener QC at 2-3 Gray's Inn Square has "an impressive courtroom style and a good bedside manner". Anthony Arlidge QC at 5 King's Bench Walk, Stephen Solley QC at Cloisters, and Michael Hill QC, head of the set at 36 Essex Street chambers, are all rated highly. At the same set, Nicholas Purnell QC is "impressive", as is Ronald Thwaites QC at 10 King's Bench Walk who is "combative, and has a different approach. He is tough, uncompromising and hardworking." Leader of the northern circuit Richard Henriques QC of Deans Court Chambers, Manchester, is highly recommended.
One silk who is mentioned by crime and fraud solicitors is Edmund Lawson at 9-12 Bell Yard because of his "crossover" expertise in both areas. At the same set, Anthony Evans QC and new silk Sonia Woodley QC are highly regarded.
Another favourite silk is David Evans QC at Queen Elizabeth Buildings, who is "extremely able intellectually and charming. He is well-suited to the substantial fraud cases as well as the up-and-at-'em crime cases." Other silks rating highly in this set are Julian Bevan QC, Timothy Langdale QC, and Anthony Glass QC.
At QC Michael Worsley's set at 6 King's Bench Walk Ann Curnow QC, Roy Amlot QC, Victor Temple QC, and David Spens QC were singled out as "very able and nice to work with". Stephen Leslie QC and Peter Feinberg QC at 1 Crown Office Row were also singled out, as were Michael Corkery QC, Oliver Sells QC, Graham Parkins QC, Jonathan Caplan QC, and Kuldip Singh QC at 5 Paper Buildings, and Richard Lissack QC at 2 King's Bench Walk. Another head of chambers singled out for mention is Rock Tansey QC at 3 Gray's Inn Square. Recommended for general crime are Christopher Sallon QC who is "a good all-rounder and trial lawyer", and Peter Thornton QC, both at Doughty Street Chambers. Helena Kennedy QC is also in great demand. Jonathan Caplan QC at 5 Paper Buildings is "good for Court of Appeal and House of Lords cases".
Other silks who have been noted include a number at 3 Raymond Buildings: set head Clive Nicholls QC, and his fellow QCs Stephen Batten, Alun Jones, David Whitehouse and Montague Sherborne, as well as Clare Montgomery, who took silk this year, having been "many solicitors' favourite junior".
For white collar crime, Andrew Trollope QC at 1 Middle Temple Lane is "extremely hard-working, and doesn't pull his punches". And at Tooks Court, Adrian Fulford QC was singled out for praise, as were Christopher Wilson-Smith QC at 35 Essex Street, Jeremy Roberts QC at 9 Gough Square, Desmond de Silva QC at 2 Paper Buildings, and Ian Croxford QC at 2-3 Gray's Inn Square, who is "definitely a star for the future".
At Furnival Chambers head of set Andrew Mitchell is "absolutely first class", and Oliver Blunt QC at the same set is "excellent". Anthony Shaw QC at 4 Brick Court chambers is "meticulous, imaginative and approachable", and William Clegg QC at 4 King's Bench Walk is "bluff, genial but a real fighter". James Hunt QC who heads the set at 39 Bedford Row, and Timothy Raggart QC were noted.
It is not just London silks who are attracting instructions. At Park Court Chambers, Leeds, James Stewart QC is a "good silk", Michael Harrison QC and Robert Smith QC are also "rated highly", as are Stuart Brown QC at Pearl Chambers, and Michael Shorrock QC and Antony Morris QC and silk Howard Bentham at Peel Court Chambers, Manchester. Charles Chruszcz QC is good for "heavy legal elements" in fraud, and Anthony Gee QC is singled out for mention at 28 St John Street, Manchester. In Sheffield, Roger Keen QC at 12 Paradise Square is "excellent", and another silk to note is John Rees QC at 30 Park Place Cardiff.
In Liverpool, David Steer QC at the Corn Exchange and David Turner QC at Exchange Chambers, merit honourable mentions. Anthony Barraclough QC at 25-27 Castle Street has "impressed with his expertise in the heavy drugs cases". At the same set, Stephen Riordan QC is noted.
In the Midlands, Anthony Hughes QC and David Crigman QC at 1 Fountain Court are noted. Colman Treacy QC at 3 Fountain Court is "highly recommended", as is leader of the circuit Richard Wakerley QC at 4 Fountain Court, and in the same set John Mitting QC, and John Saunders QC. At 5 Fountain Court, Anthony Barker QC and at 7 Fountain Court, Rex Tedd QC are noted. Charles Barton QC at Albion Chambers, Bristol, and Paul Dunkels QC at Walnut House, Exeter also come recommended.