Senior counsel

What is a senior counsel?

Senior counsel are barristers who have demonstrated outstanding skill as advocates and advisers in the administration of justice. Known informally as 'silks', they work on particularly complex or difficult cases. Prior to 1993 in New South Wales such barristers were known as a QC or queen's counsel.

How are they appointed?

The principles governing the selection and appointment of those to be designated as senior counsel by the president of the Bar Association are contained in the Senior Counsel Protocol.  


The Bar Association publishes a short Guide to Practical Aspects of the operation of the Senior Counsel Protocol which experience has shown may be of interest to members of the bar. It is written for members of the bar who are considering making application for appointment as senior counsel. It is also intended to provide information to members of the public who wish to better understand the process. 

Senior Counsel appointments for 2021

On 1 October 2021, the Bar Association announced the names of 20 barristers who were appointed senior counsel. The successful applicants for 2021, in order of their length of service at the bar, can be viewed here. Profiles of the successful applicants can be viewed here.


The first person appointed to the rank of queen's counsel (QC) was John Hubert Plunkett, on 6 June 1856. The last was Peter Michael Jacobson on 1 December 1992. Since 1993 they have been known as senior counsel (SC). View the full list of appointments here.