The new silks list but will it be the last?

Women barristers have called for the abolition of the QC system despite a dramatic increase in the number of women taking silk from five last year to 10 this year.

Echoing The Lawyer's call last week, the chair of the Association of Women Barristers, Josephine Hayes, said: “I have recently come to the view that the QC system is unnecessary and should be abolished.

“Ten women may have received silk but so did 50 men and the gender gap is still enormous. The system is a barrier for women at the Bar, particularly as it is a stepping stone to judicial appointment.”

One women on this year's silk list, Elizabeth Blackburn at 4 Field Court, agreed the system was under scrutiny but said calls for abolition were a little premature. “Over the next five years we will see if the large number of women who came to the Bar in the 1980s apply for, and receive, silk.”

Lincoln Crawford, chairman of the Bar's race relations committee, welcomed the appointment of four silks from the ethnic minorities, saying it would “go a long way towards restoring the confidence of visible minority lawyers who have virtually given up the idea of ever applying”.

18 Red Lion Court received the most silks four with 1 Essex Court receiving three.

Last week The Lawyer published an alternative silks list based on the views of litigation solicitors, as opposed to barristers and judges.