England and Wales’ first female solicitor advocate QC is set to also become the first to dual qualify as both a solicitor and barrister. June Venters, who was made QC in 2006, will be called to the bar by Middle Temple on Thursday.
But the crime and family law specialist, who has run her own Surrey firm since 1991, told the Gazette she believed the solicitor and barrister professions should merge in order to make the best of their shared skills.
‘I have always believed that there should be a fusion of the two professions. I see myself as an advocate and have been a silk for 10 years. Being qualified in both epitomises that view,’ she told the Gazette.
However, she conceded that while she hoped for more collaboration, the two professions appear to be moving further away from each other.
‘The introduction by the bar of direct access barristers helped with this,’ she said. ’But if we come together it could provide a great opportunity to use the skills that we both have.’
Venters, formerly head of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association, also bemoaned the difficulty for solicitor advocates to be accepted into barristers’ world.
Although she became a door tenant at Lamb Building in 2007 she said that immediately after becoming a QC she ’found that nobody knew what to do’ with her.
‘It was very difficult to become affiliated with a chambers and it was actually not encouraged, which I think is part of this desire to keep the two professions separate,’ she said.
Venters previously described prejudice from the bar and bench against higher court advocates as ‘simply a fact of life’. She added that that ‘can and will be’ the case until there is a merging of the professions.