- Applications especially encouraged from eligible female solicitors and barristers, and from people from diverse backgrounds
- Closing date for applications is 5 February 2021
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, T.D. has today reminded all eligible solicitors and barristers that the application process for Senior Counsel for 2021 is still open.
Applications are examined by an Advisory Committee on the grant of Patents of Precedence. This Advisory Committee was established under the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015, and is chaired by the Chief Justice. Successful applicants will thereafter be entitled to use the title of Senior Counsel.
Speaking today, Minister McEntee said:
“The title of Senior Counsel is a prestigious one. It denotes a level of expertise in your chosen profession of solicitor or barrister. I want to encourage all those who are eligible to apply to do so. In particular, I want to see more applications from our highly qualified female solicitors and barristers, and from people from diverse backgrounds. We must all work together to improve diversity across the legal system.
“In June, applications for recommendation for a grant of a Patent of Precedence opened for the first time. While it was encouraging to see a good proportion of applications coming from both legal professions, there was a stark gender imbalance in applications received.Just 23% of solicitor applications and 31% of barrister applications were from women.
“Senior Counsel are also, of course, our future judicial candidates. It is vitally important that we have a diverse judiciary that reflects the modern and inclusive society that Ireland is today. So if you are thinking of applying, my advice to you is to go for it.”
The application form is available on the website of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) at: https://www.lsra.ie/applications-for-senior-counsel-open-2021/. Applications will be accepted up to 5:00 pm on 5 February 2021.
Notes for Editors
The Advisory Committee was established under the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 on 2 April 2020.
The Advisory Committee has established the criteria – as set out in the objectives in section 173(2) of the Act – to be met by a legal practitioner in order for a recommendation to be made by the Advisory Committee to the Government that a Patent of Precedence be granted to him or her.
Section 173 of the 2015 Act states:
The objectives… are those of ensuring, in relation to a legal practitioner seeking to have a Patent granted to him or her, that he or she:
(a) has, in his or her practice as a legal practitioner, displayed—
(i) a degree of competence and a degree of probity appropriate to and consistent with the grant to him or her of a Patent,
(ii) professional independence, and
(iii) one or more of the following:
(I) a proven capacity for excellence in the practice of advocacy;
(II) a proven capacity for excellence in the practice of specialist litigation; or
(III) specialist knowledge of an area of law;
(b) is suitable on grounds of character and temperament;
(c) is in possession of a tax clearance certificate that is in force;
(d) is otherwise suitable to be granted a Patent.
This is the second round of the Patents of Precedence process. It is for recommendations to be made by the Advisory Committee to Government in 2021.
The grant of a Patent of Precedence in relation to a barrister entitles him or her to be called to the Inner Bar and to use the title of Senior Counsel; and in relation to a solicitor, entitles him or her to use the title of Senior Counsel.
The Advisory Committee consists of:
The Chief Justice (Chairperson of the Committee),
- The President of the Court of Appeal,
- The President of the High Court,
- The Attorney General,
- The Chairperson of the Bar Council,
- The President of the Law Society and
- Dr Don Thornhill, a lay member of the Authority (and its chair) nominated by the Minister for Justice.
The Legal Services Regulatory Authority was established in 2016 and is an independent authority. It is Ireland’s national statutory regulator for both branches of the legal profession – barristers and solicitors, and provides administrative and secretarial support to the Advisory Committee.