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Assume that a lawyer is shrewd and skilled enough, has even been regarded and touted to be a future QC, and can swimmingly afford the application fee. In England and Wales, solicitors have become, and can apply to be, QCs. Still, why would such a lawyer deliberately not apply to be a QC? What are the disadvantages of being appointed QC?

Normally, lawyers can raise their hourly ratess upon being QCs. But lawyers can still reduce their hourly rates.

I am NOT asking about Canadian QC's which are appointed, and cannot be applied for. Or Australian SC's which only barristers can apply for.

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  • You don't demonstrate that such lawyers (refusing to apply for QC status) exist. Do they?
    – Greendrake
    Aug 3, 2022 at 4:52
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    Does their actual existence or nonexistence change the answer? It seems like OP just wants a cost-benefit analysis of a QC appointment.
    – bdb484
    Aug 3, 2022 at 19:02

1 Answer 1

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There are several reasons why a person might not want to apply for appointment as Queen's Counsel. The most obvious one is that an applicant can never be sure that their application will be successful. A savvy and skillful lawyer might prefer not to participate in the system, rather than submit themselves for evaluation and perhaps, suffer a loss of face when their application is refused. The application itself requires significant effort and consultation with other lawyers who support it, and would not be undertaken by someone who was not highly motivated to achieve the appointment and confident of a reasonable chance of success.

Another reason is that Queen's Counsel are normally briefed to appear on unusually important and complex cases, often with the assistance of junior counsel, by clients who are willing and able to pay the high fees which Queen's Counsel are expected and able to charge. Thus, appointment as Queen's Counsel will change the nature of a barrister's practice. Even if Queen's Counsel agree to work at discounted rates in some cases, they will be expected to refuse, and will not be offered, briefs that are appropriate for junior counsel. An experienced lawyer might prefer to continue their successful practice as a solicitor or junior barrister, rather than seeking recognition as a leader of the profession, who would be expected to spend more time supervising complex litigation and delegating work to junior counsel.

A final reason is that a lawyer may have political objections to the practice of appointing eminent lawyers as Queen's Counsel. They may have republican sentiments and support the office of Senior Counsel which exists in other Commonwealth jurisdictions. Or, they may object to the role of the State in bestowing an honorific title, which is a public privilege that can be exploited for private financial benefit, on an elite group of lawyers who already enjoy significant social privileges.

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    @Richard Your sardonic comment adds nothing productive to this question. Aug 3, 2022 at 22:00
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    Along with the points raised in the first paragraph, someone could just be too busy and have other things going on in their life taking up their time that makes this effort not worth the trouble at the moment for them. Similarly someone with "imposter syndrome" (which is quite common) may feel themselves unworthy even if they actually are worthy.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 3, 2022 at 23:10

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