Senior Prosecutor Kara Shead and defamation barrister Sandy Dawson among the latest crop of silks

by admin on July 22nd, 2018

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Sandy Dawson has acted for many media outlets, and 2GB broadcaster Ray Hadley. Photo: Ben Rushton Kara Shead representing Glen McNamara during his trial with Roger Rogerson. Photo: Peter Rae

One of the state’s top prosecutors and a leading Sydney defamation barrister are among the high-profile barristers appointed this year to the coveted rank of silk.

Kara Shead, a deputy director of the NSW Department of Public Prosecutions, is one of three women and 12 men to have been appointed as senior counsel this year from a pool of 101 applicants.

Prominent defamation barrister Sandy Dawson, who has acted for a host of media outlets including Fairfax Media and the ABC, was also appointed silk.

“It’s a very heartening experience at a personal level and it reminds you that the bar is a collegiate profession above everything else,” Mr Dawson said.

He pointed to “the warmth of the reaction from colleagues, judges, opponents and clients” and said it was “very special” to share the moment with his contemporaries, including Sydney barrister and fellow appointee Katherine Richardson, who specialises in public and administrative law.

The state’s new Crown Advocate, David Kell, who appears in some criminal proceedings for the state and provides advice to the Attorney-General, has also joined the ranks of senior counsel.

Dr Kell appeared as counsel assisting the special commission of inquiry into greyhound racing in NSW and was appointed Crown Advocate in September.

Appointments as Senior Counsel – or silk – are made annually by the NSW Bar Association and the title is highly prized by barristers on Phillip Street in the heart of Sydney’s legal district.

The title sets barristers apart from their peers as experts in their field and also allows them to charge more for their work.

In a career spanning more than a decade, Ms Shead has acted as prosecutor in a string of high-profile trials including the so-called “honour killing” case in which Sydney man Hazairin Iskandar murdered his wife’s lover and colleague Mohd Shah Saemin.

As a deputy senior public defender she also acted for a time for Glen McNamara in his murder trial with Roger Rogerson.

Mr Dawson, who was called to the bar in 2003, appeared for Fairfax with Matthew Collins, QC, in the high-profile defamation battle launched by federal Treasurer Joe Hockey.

He also acted with Tom Blackburn, SC, for Fairfax in its defamation battle with lawyer and Obeid family associate Nick Di Girolamo, who ultimately dropped the case.

There are now 395 silks – 7.95 per cent of them women – out of 2322 practising barristers in NSW, of whom 21.66 per cent are women.

The number of successful applicants for silk this year was slightly lower than in previous years.

There were 26 appointments last year, from a pool of 113 aspirants, and 18 in 2014 from a pool of 102 applicants.

Sydney barrister Christopher O’Donnell, who has appeared in criminal trials and appeals, was also appointed silk.

But it was barristers practising commercial law who took out most of the honours, with Sydney barristers Roger Marshall, Victor Kerr, Nicholas Chen, Adam Casselden, Scott Goodman, Kate Williams, Jason Potts, Scott Nixon, Nicholas Owens and Doran Cook all making the cut.

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