Silk applications from women drop in decreasing QC round

The number of female barristers who applied to become Queen’s Counsel has dropped by a third this year, statistics released ahead of tomorrow’s announcement of new silks show.

New QCs are being informed today by post, but the QC Appointments board has released statistical information on this year’s applicants prior to releasing the full list of names. The statistics show that of 183 applications this year, 155 were from men and just 26 from women – 14.2 per cent of the total.

That compares with 214 applications in total in 2011/12, of which 39 or 18 per cent were from female barristers. In 2010/11 there were 251 applications, including 41 (16 per cent) from women.

However, the number of applications from applicants declaring an ethnic minority background has risen, to 21 (11.5 per cent of applications) this year from 15 (7 per cent of applications) in 2011/12 and 19 (8 per cent) in 2010/11.

Once again applicants with a civil law background were in the majority. A total of 131 civil barristers applied for silk this year, along with 54 criminal and nine family law barristers. Some applicants with a mixed practice are counted in two categories.

Those who applied for silk went through an extensive process, including completing a lengthy application form and paying an application fee of £1,950 plus VAT. New silks will have to pay £3,500 plus VAT on appointment.

Last year (29 February 2012) 88 new silks were appointed including 23 women.

Users of the social media site Twitter are already congratulating their contacts on their successful applications.