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What does QC or SC mean?
The letters QC or SC after the name of a barrister indicate that he or she is a senior counsel.


Before 1993 such barristers were known as a QC or Queen's Counsel. In New South Wales, QCs were appointed by the governor of the state, upon advice from the Attorney-General, usually after consultation with the president of the New South Wales Bar Association. In 1992, the New South Wales Government announced that no further appointments would be made. The Bar Association established its own equivalent rank of senior counsel (SC) who are appointed after an exhaustive process of consultation with members of the profession and the judiciary.

Senior counsel comprise about 14 per cent of the practising Bar. They are barristers of seniority and eminence. Barristers apply to 'take silk' when, in their judgment, their standing in the profession will sustain the changed status. It is a career decision similar to many other occupations, for instance an academic who applies for promotion to a professor.

Senior counsel appear as advocates at trial or on appeal and advise in particularly complex or difficult cases. They are often instructed in addition to other counsel because of the importance or the complexity of the case. The second lawyer will usually be another barrister or may be a solicitor of appropriate skill and experience.

 

The Senior counsel selection protocol is available from this web site.