Veteran advocate Christina Gorna has resigned as Head of Castle Chambers in Exeter and spoken out about the treatment of barristers on the circuit.
Gorna, who had been a tenant at 4 Paper Buildings, the chambers of Harvey McGregor QC, since 1961, set up Castle Chambers in 1990 in order to spend more time with her husband, who lived in Exeter.
"I tendered my resignation after his death at the end of 1996 in order to better pursue my national career," explained Gorna.
The outspoken advocate said that having worked extensively on both the circuit and in London, she realised that barristers in the regions were often overlooked by conference organisers and that their views were seldom sought. "I'm quite concerned that we are under represented," said Gorna. "I think that is quite wrong – the Bar is a national institution."
Gorna said the impression held by many people that the Western Circuit began and ended in Bristol was wrong. She said that the area was full of capable hard-working barristers ably led by circuit leader Nigel Pascoe QC.
Gorna was due to expand on her comments at the Woman Lawyer conference in London on Saturday, after The Lawyer went to press, but her sentiments have already been echoed by other barristers.
Last week, in a letter to The Lawyer, Martin Bowley QC, of the Chambers of James Hunt QC, questioned why it was that when 3,052 barristers out of 8,935 operated in private practice in the regions, just 13 out of 68 were granted silk in the 1997 list.
Gorna will continue to work partly out of Exeter, but the direction of her set, which consists of seven tenants and a number of door tenants, is still far from clear.
"I would not like to say that it is uncertainty.
"We are just keeping our options open for the moment," said Gorna.