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Women in leadership

Queen's Counsel

Women lawyers are acutely underrepresented within those that have taken silk in New Zealand. Currently only 15% of New Zealand's Queen's Counsel are female despite women making up 47% of all practising lawyers and 36% of barristers. Since the first women were appointed Queen's Counsel in 1988 there have been 169 appointments, 27 of which have been women (equating to 16% of appointments).

In 2013 26 new Queen's Counsel were appointed, the most ever appointed in one round and representing 10% of all appointments made since appointments commenced in New Zealand in 1907. However, only four appointees in 2013 were women. In 2014 there were 14 QC appointments, with four being women, and in the latest round - on 24 July 2015 - there were three appointments, with one woman appointed.

New Zealand Law Society Executive Director Christine Grice says the low number of appointments is a reflection of the low number of women who applied. In the 2013 appointment round there were 116 applications but only 16 (13.8%) were from women. In the 2014 round 97 applications were made with 21 of these being women (21.6%). The 2015 round saw 85 applications and 19 of these were from women (22.3%) - which is the highest proportion of female applications for any round.

If a gender balance in senior legal roles reflective of the current makeup of the profession is to be achieved, it is essential that more women put themselves forward for appointment.

If you are interested in applying in the future or just want to find out more about the eligibility requirements or the appointment process visit the Crown Law website.

NZLS Executive Director Christine Grice – Nine to Noon, Monday 10 March
LawTalk 834 – Why so few women QC's
LawTalk 835 – QC applications open today
LawTalk 836 – From the Law Society
NZLS and A-G call for more women to seek QC appointment

Last updated on the 28th July 2016