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Silk trio in esteemed company among NSW’s best barristers

Three of the 15 barristers to be appointed senior counsel in NSW in 2016 are women.

user iconMelissa Coade 05 October 2016 The Bar
Silk trio in esteemed company among NSW’s best barristers
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The NSW Bar Association has announced its 2016 senior counsel roll call. A total of 15 barristers will receive the honour this year, three of whom are women. The number marks a growth in women silks by just over a quarter of a percentage point since 2014.

Kate Williams, Katherine Richardson and Kara Shead have been recognised alongside their peers Christopher O’Donnell, Roger Marshall, Victor Kerr, Nicholas Chen, Adam Casselden, David Kell, Scott Goodman, Alexander Dawson, Jason Potts, Scott Nixon, Nicholas Owens and Doran Cook.

The invitation to take silk is a mark of standing and recognises experience, skill, integrity and honesty, among other qualities. Barristers with the designation of senior counsel are given the abbreviated post-nominal ‘SC’ in their title.


The esteemed list was announced last week by NSW Bar Association president Noel Hutley SC.

This is the third consecutive year that three women have been invited to take silk in NSW, despite the overall number of appointees fluctuating between 18, 26 and 15 over the 2014-16 period.

Statistics provided by the NSW Bar Association show that in that same period, the percentage of total women silks inched from 9.87 per cent to 10.13 per cent of total senior counsel in NSW. 

Women presently make up 21.6 per cent of barristers who hold a practising certificate in the state.

According to the 2014 annual Women in NSW report, women held 33.8 per cent of positions at the bench of the NSW judiciary, with women practitioners making up only 20.8 per cent of the NSW bar. That same report described the proportion of women holding senior roles in the top echelons of the NSW legal profession as a “very low base”.

Lawyers Weekly’s Women in Law Awards will reveal the 2016 Barrister of the Year at a special awards night in Melbourne. To find out more about the event, held on 27 October at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne, see here.