Attorney Generals Office
The Government Legal Department (GLD) administers the Attorney Generals panel counsel.
The Attorney Generals panels of counsel consists of just over 400 junior counsel who undertake civil and EU work for all government departments.
This guide explains how to apply to be on the panel counsel and which panel youd be advised to apply for. It also covers work outside the panel which means working for the government but not as a member of panel counsel.
The role of the Law Officers
The Law Officers have overall responsibility for counsel instructed on behalf of government. They make appointments to the panels. They ensure that the operation of the panels is as effective as possible.
Panel counsel: structure
The Attorney General maintains panels of junior counsel to undertake civil and EU work for all government departments. These are in addition to any standing counsel and the First Treasury Counsel, James Eadie QC.
The panel system is made up of London Panels, Regional Panels and Public International Law Panels, each set up as follows:
A panel deals with the most complex government cases in all kinds of courts and tribunals. Members will often appear against QCs. In general, those appointed to the A panel will have over 10 years advocacy experience.
B panel deals with substantial cases but not in general as complex as those handled by the A panel. Members will generally be instructed where knowledge and experience of a particular field is required. B panel applicants will generally have between 5 and 10 years advocacy experience but those with more experience can also apply.
C panel members will generally have between 2 and 5 years advocacy experience but those with more experience can apply. Those appointed to the C panel will often (but not always) become the A and B panel members of the future and so will be expected to show the potential to join the A panel.
Advocacy experience means experience in actual practice usually from the end of second 6 months pupillage. Where a third 6 months pupillage is taken there will need to be a judgement as to the extent and quality of the advocacy undertaken during that period.
The size of each panel is determined by need.
All government departments and agencies of government departments must use the panels.
London panels (details of current counsel)
Appointments are for a period of 5 years.
Outside London and the South East there are 5 regions to which counsel belong: North East, North, Wales, Midlands and South West.
From 3 April 2018, the Attorney Generals Regional Panel of Junior Counsel was restructured to align it with the other civil panels. Furthermore, following a recruitment exercise, a refresh of the Regional Panel saw changes to the membership.
As a result of the restructuring, within each region, the panel will be set up as follows:
Appointments are for a period of 5 years.
Public International Law (PIL) panel
The Attorney General established panels of junior counsel to undertake public international law on behalf of all government departments in order to supplement the work of the existing 3 London Panels. Thewill undertake cases involving public international law in international courts and in the courts of England and Wales. The competitions to refresh the Public International Law (PIL) A, B and C Panels have now closed and results will be emailed to candidates in September.
Appointments to the panel
The competitions to refresh the London A, B and C Panels have now closed and results will be emailed to candidates in late summer.
The next competition to make appointments to the Regional A, B and C Panels will open in autumn 2020.
As part of the Attorney Generals aim of encouraging as wide a selection of applicants as possible, potential applicants who want a mentor are put in touch with an established panel member who can discuss the application process, the eligibility criteria and the presentation of relevant information on the application form.
For details of rates see our practical information page.
Equality and diversity
The Attorney General operates an equal opportunities policy in relation to the civil panels. The assessment process emphasises the importance of making recommendations for appointment on the basis of demonstrable skills.
The Attorney General appoints the best candidates solely on merit, irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion/belief, sex (gender), and sexual orientation.
See the Attorney Generals. Please note: the Treasury Solicitors Department (TSol) became the Government Legal Department (GLD) on 1 April 2015. The attached document refers to TSol but remains relevant to GLD.
Areas of work
To ensure the panels can meet the needs of government there is a variety of work available - not just in public law. It is important that the panels contain counsel with various specialisms and counsel who are able to branch out into other areas of work if the need arises.
GLD encourages counsel to maintain both a public and private practice, this includes acting against government. It is beneficial to government if counsel have had experience of acting against government.
Although appointment to any panel cannot be a guarantee that work will be available, the intention is that each advocate appointed should be given at least a minimum amount of work.
Off panel work
The intention is that work should go to panel members but there are opportunities to do work off panel.
Queens Counsel (QC/silk)
GLD maintains a non-exhaustive list of Queens Counsel who have previously been instructed by departments or have expressed interest in receiving instructions. A nomination from the Law Officers is always required before a QC is instructed; a rate is always agreed in advance of a nomination being approved and usually ranges from between 180 - 250 per hour.
When seeking a nomination for a QC, the Attorney General will wish to be satisfied that the work cannot be