John Flood, Professor of Law and Sociology, University of Westminster

Time to cut the silken thread

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  • I am appalled at the aggressive and condescending nature of some comments on this article. Lawyers should be able to make a point and respond to arguments without resorting to petty insults. There is simply no excuse for arguing against a view your disagree with through nonsensical childish comments like "left-wing socialist claptrap".

    I disagree with some parts of the article, such as the idea that it is impossible to assess one's skills with advocacy. It is similarly impossible to objectively assess one's contribution to science for a Nobel prize, one simply has to make an educated guess.

    I agree with many of the other points. It seems extremely odd that only the last two years are taken into account, when building a reputation for excellent advocacy takes much longer. I also find it difficult to see why the QC tag should be focused on a small area of the profession. There is no real reason why the QC process couldn't be extended to, for example, M&A lawyers, by asking clients and the other side about that lawyer's performance.

    I find it difficult to support the QC system because I am not sure what it is trying to achieve. As Mr Nugent pointed out, the QC monikor does not guarantee instructions and many clients do not understand or care what the letters mean. That said, I am not sure the institution is doing harm.

    The author suggests that a universal system would work more effectively. This is the system used in the United States where people add "JD" or "Esq." to their name to indicate that their are practicisng lawyers rather than, say, legal consulstants. This makes a lot more sense to me than the current QC system.

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  • To: Anonymous | 16-Apr-2012 2:30 pm

    For me, the real problem with Prof Flood's argument is that, in the face of some fairly obvious points, he has retreated at haste into "yes, this is the sort of thing that is deserving of research". All that does is show up the flimsy nature of the call "?It’s time we got rid of the Queen’s Counsel (QC)".

    If you think that the issue here is distinguishing practising lawyers from legal consultants then I respectfully disagree, and would also suggest that you do some more thinking about it!

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  • The paper I refer to on the quasi-judicial aspect of QCs is by Sasha Wass QC and can be found at http://www.dca.gov.uk/consult/qcfuture/responses/qc332.pdf

    In her paper she asserts that barristers are quasi-public servants and QCs have a quasi-judicial role hence the state's interest in appointing QCs even overseeing barristers. It's an ingenious if flawed argument.

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