LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – To some in the profession it was simply her turn. To others the appointment was long overdue.
At her sixth attempt, the Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen was yesterday named one of 23 barristers awarded the coveted title senior counsel.
After conducting a series of high-profile cases, the fact that the senior deputy Crown prosecutor missed out on taking silk became a media story five years in a row.
Some in legal circles have suggested she was kept waiting because of her profile and for being outspoken about some practices in the profession.
Others simply suggest she was “not a player” or unpopular with her peers.
Michael Slattery, SC, the head of the Bar Association, which selects the successful candidates, said: “There is intense scrutiny of the qualities and characters of individuals, but with a particular eye to the fact that people can change over time and that their qualities can be better appreciated over time.
“Margaret Cunneen is a most accomplished trial advocate, as are all the others who were appointed as senior counsel.”
Ms Cunneen, who has been a barrister since 1990, was one of only two women appointed. The other was Sophie Goddard.
While nearly 17 per cent of barristers are women, they make up only 5.23 per cent of senior counsel. The Bar Association selected the 23 candidates from 120 applicants. Less than 10 per cent of applicants were women. This year, the association introduced a requirement for judges, barristers and solicitors consulted about applicants to indicate if they had had personal dealings with the individuals.