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AS MANY as five leading QCs are lining up as possible contenders for this year's crucial elections for the vice-chairmanship of the Bar Council, the traditional route to becoming the chairman.
So far only Nigel Pascoe QC, the leader of the Western Circuit and chairman of the Bar Council's publicity committee has confirmed he will stand, but the leading personal injury silk Daniel Brennan QC is "thinking about standing" and Julian Malins QC, Jonathan Hirst QC and Douglas Day QC are all widely believed to be contemplating a leadership bid.
If all five were to stand it would be the most hotly contested election yet. It will be taking place at an important time for the Bar Council which needs a capable leadership to respond to the Government's impending legal reform plans.
The winner will be Heather Hallett QC's deputy when she becomes the Bar Council's first woman chair in December, with the promise of taking on the leadership role in 1998.
Robin de Wilde QC, who has been campaigning for the Bar Council chairman to be elected by the entire profession and not just the Bar Council itself, welcomed the fact that so many people appeared to be considering standing.
"The more people who stand, the more open the election will be," he said.
Pascoe would be considered as something of an outsider in a contested election but is a popular figure.
Of the other four possible contenders Brennan, Hirst, a commercial silk, and Day, a former circuit leader who stood against Hallett last year, would all be strong contenders while Malins, a prominent Conservative party supporter, would be viewed as another outsider.
Nominations to stand must be lodged with the Bar Council by 25 September.