Quite simply, barristers function as a kind of a lawyer. They serve high-level courts, and judges are usually selected from barristers. In contrast, solicitors are generally lawyers who work directly with clients. However, there is still some confusion about the difference between barristers and QC’s, or “Queen’s Counsel.”
The Difference Between Barristers And QC’s
A Queen’s Counsel, or QC, is usually chosen from the ranks of barristers. As the name suggests, these prominent legal practitioners are actually picked by the queen, usually at the suggestion of a Lord Chancellor.
In some places, a QC might also be referred to as senior counsel. Most of the barristers who get this honorific have at least 15 years of experience, but it’s possible for some people with less experience to get honored this way if they have demonstrated great merit in their field. Michael Wolkind QC is a particularly well-known QC.
History of QC’s
The very first of these honorifics was granted in 1597. The title was granted to Sir Francis Bacon, and this gave him precedence over his former peers at the legal bar. In 1603, he was also styled the King’s Counsel.
As a note, this title entirely depends upon the monarch’s gender. If a queen, like Queen Elizabeth, sits upon the throne, the title is called the Queen’s Counsel. If a male monarch took the throne, the title would automatically be changed to a King’s Counsel. Since this is entirely a matter of who sits upon the throne at the moment, it has no bearing on the actual meaning of the title.
Still, this title was fairly rare in until the 1800s. At that point, they needed a way to recognize senior members of the court. Thus, many more of these titles were offered.
QC’s In Modern Times
In the past, all QC’s or KC’s were men. The first woman took the title of King’s Counsel in Canada in the 1930s. In the UK, the first two women earned the honorific in the late 1940s.
In the past, this title was mainly reserved for those legal practitioners who would represent the crown’s business. This situation has changed somewhat in modern times, and it is no longer uncommon to find QC’s representing private clients in higher courts.
Technically, the monarch still appoints barristers to the position of QC. Since 2004, actual sections are made by a panel of nine members. The queen no longer comments upon the appointments.