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SC designation ‘completely appropriate and suited’ in today’s profession, says NSW Chief Justice

In remarks to the newest cohort of silks in NSW, the state’s Chief Justice, the Honourable Andrew Bell, submitted that appointment as a senior counsel is compatible with a “mature, independent legal profession” that distinguishes itself from English courts.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 26 October 2022 The Bar
SC designation ‘completely appropriate and suited’ in today’s profession, says NSW Chief Justice
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Last week, on the Occasion of Silk Bows, Chief Justice Andrew Bell said that the appointment as senior counsel was a “propitious day” for those receiving the designation.

It is, His Honour proclaimed, a “signal achievement on your part to have been recognised by your peers and members of the judiciary as worthy to be marked out as leaders of the profession”.

Earlier this month, Lawyers Weekly reported that 20 new senior counsel (SCs) were to be appointed in NSW.


Speaking to the cohort — the 30th to receive the designation of SC — His Honour reflected on the movement away from use of Queen’s counsel in the state in 1992 and adoption of SC the following year.

The designation SC, Bell CJ argued, is “completely appropriate and suited as a means of recognising and signalling excellence in a mature, independent legal profession, in which the decisions of English courts have no superior status in terms of precedent than those of any other common law jurisdiction”.

Moreover, His Honour continued, the designation SC, as opposed to QC or KC, is consistent with the motto of the NSW Bar Association — “Servants of all, yet of none” — which was adopted in 1959.

“Prior to the Queen’s recent death, this state last had KCs at a time when its bar was a fraction of its current size, when, according to the Law Almanac, it had only two female members, at a time when the great wave of post-war migration to this country was in its infancy, and when our society was not the richly diverse multicultural one it has become in the ensuing 70 years,” Bell CJ detailed.

“Your appointment as an SC does designate you in an eminently recognisable way, both nationally and internationally, as leaders of the bar.”

The leadership that is expected of the newest cohort of SCs, His Honour went on, has a number of dimensions.

“First, leadership as skilled but always responsible advocates whose first duty is to the court and the administration of justice,” His Honour said.

“Secondly, ethical leadership, as you draw on your experience, wisdom and judgement to guide and assist younger members of the profession.

“And, thirdly, leadership of the profession more generally by supporting the valuable and essential work of the New South Wales Bar Association, through its council and diverse committees as well as becoming leaders of your chambers.”