Manitoba Government News Release:
Information Services, Room 29, Legislative Building, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 0V8 Telephone: (204) 
945-3746 Fax: (204) 945-3988


January 09, 2001


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New "Senior Counsel" Designation by Law Society To Recognize Excellence in the Legal Profession

The provincial government is getting out of the business of appointing Queen's Counsel (QC) and is offering a new process and the designation of "Senior Counsel" (SC) to recognize excellence in the legal profession on a non-partisan basis, Attorney General Gord Mackintosh announced today.

The decision follows a reassessment of the practice of appointing QCs and a recent survey of the legal profession indicating that 84 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied with the way in which QC appointments are made in Manitoba. A majority of respondents also felt the QC process could be perceived as partisan. About 60 per cent favoured continuing with a new process.

"Appointing local lawyers to assist the Queen of England has long since lost its original meaning and has become archaic," Mackintosh said. "We believe excellence in the legal profession should nevertheless be recognized and are proposing a modern, rigorous and non-political process that will enhance recognition for those appointed Senior Counsel."

The legal profession was the only profession to be recognized by the Manitoba government by the way of such appointments as QC--a tradition that dates back more than 400 years to Elizabethan England. The move to a modern designation of SC has happened in a growing number of Commonwealth jurisdictions, most notably Australia, although Manitoba is the first province in Canada to adopt this model.

The practice, procedure and appointment of Senior Counsel would be set out in the Law Society Act and appointments made by the Law Society of Manitoba. Criteria and the process the province is prepared to support in legislation has been proposed to the Law Society of Manitoba and the Manitoba Bar Association for discussion. Existing QCs would retain their titles.

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Potential Criteria and Process for Appointment of Senior Counsel (SC)

by The Law Society of Manitoba

For discussion purposes

January 2001


  1. The full practice, procedure and criteria for appointment would be set out in The Law Society Act.
  2. Lawyers would have to apply or be nominated and consent to the nomination (the forms would be set out in regulation). They would have to have practised for at least ten years.
  3. The criteria for appointment would be demonstrated outstanding work and abilities as a lawyer, demonstrated track record of integrity as a lawyer and contributions to the development of excellence in the legal profession through activities such as mentorship of junior lawyers and legal education.
  4. A selection committee would be established, consisting of the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal as chair, one of the Chief Justice of the Court of Queenís Bench or the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court (the position would rotate between them), the President (or designate) of the Law Society of Manitoba, a second representative of the Law Society and the President (or designate) of the Manitoba Bar Association.
  5. The selection committee would be required to produce an unranked list of six nominees per year.
  6. The Law Society would be required to appoint at least one and not more than four Senior Counsel from the selection committee's list of six.
  7. Members of the selection committee would be ineligible for appointment so long as they are on the committee and for two years afterwards.
  8. Appointments would be conferred directly by The Law Society of Manitoba pursuant to statute, rather than by order-in-council.