Garden Court Chambers was delighted to see two of its members appointed Queen's Counsel in yesterday's 2014 silks' ceremony. In addition to being recognised nationally as leading advocates, Leslie Thomas QC and Marc Willers QC are both past Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) award winners.
After learning of their appointment in February, Marc and Leslie were officially sworn in as silks by the Lord Chancellor in a ceremony held at Westminster Hall yesterday.
Despite the archaic-looking ceremonial attire, there is still a serious purpose to the process, as it gives recognition to those barristers and solicitors who, in the eyes of the judiciary, their peers and solicitors, have demonstrated the highest standards of oral and written advocacy and leadership, as decided by an independent Queen's Counsel appointments panel.
The day was also an occasion to celebrate Legal Aid. As human rights specialists, both Marc and Leslie have dedicated their careers to assisting some of the most vulnerable in society. Marc is recognised as a leading expert in the rights of Gypsies, Travellers and Roma and has fought tirelessly to tackle the discrimination they face in society. Leslie is acknowledged as one of the country's leading advocates at inquests and in civil actions against the state. Marc was awarded the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year award in 2011, with Leslie receiving the same award in 2012. Much of their work has been funded through Legal Aid over the years, something which is now under threat from government cuts.
When receiving his appointment from the Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling, Leslie used the opportunity to bring his concern about the government's threats to legal aid.