legal cheek speculates who the new Lord Chancellor and Attorney General could be
With the new Prime Minister due to be appointed by the Queen at Balmoral tomorrow, political pundits are plagued with predictions about who will get the top government jobs.
The posts of Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, currently held by former Linklaters man Dominic Raab, and Attorney General, currently held by Suella Braverman, are expected to see new incumbents. But who is in the running?
legal cheek takes a look at the candidates who have been touted for the highest legal posts of Lord Chancellor and Attorney General and who may be best placed to tackle the current challenges of managing criminal barristers’ strikes, smoothing the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill and the reassessment of the Bill of Rights Bill.
With not only a law degree but also a degree in economics from the University of Buckingham and an LLM in commercial law from King’s College London, the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was approached by The Telegraph and legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg as future Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor. Although called the bar, there is no evidence that Lewis ever actually used his legal qualifications as a barrister. Nevertheless, he has faced tough questions in the past on topics such as whether the Internal Markets Bill, as drafted in 2020, would breach international law – a question that is likely to reappear in connection with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.
With the full title of Lucy Frazer QC MP, the seasoned commercial lawyer has spent more time as a lawyer than as an MP. The Cambridge Uni law graduate, who was president of Cambridge Union, took up silk in 2013 and was later elected as an MP a few years later in 2015.
After serving as Solicitor General and Deputy Minister in the Department of Justice, Frazer is currently Financial Secretary of the Treasury where she rubbed shoulders with former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, whom she supported in this leadership campaign. Interestingly, she has recently been particularly vocal on both the Northern Ireland Protocol and the backlog of the criminal justice system (although her comments on the latter were praised by anonymous bestselling author The Secret Barrister as “false, absurd or both”).
It would appear the stars are aligned for Clarke to take over from Raab as Justice Secretary with a shared background as Magic Circle trainees. While Raab began his career as an intern at Linklaters, Clarke, 37, did a TC at Slaughter and May before apparently continuing to work for Raab in 2010. 12 years later, the former Slaughters rookie is became a full member of parliament. right and is currently Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Will the new Prime Minister see poetic continuity in allowing Clarke to take over from his former boss Raab, somewhat echoing Rishi Sunak’s takeover of his “Jedi Masterpredecessor Sajid Javid as Chancellor?
A Durham law graduate and former criminal barrister practicing in Wales, Robert Buckland has already held two of the three most senior legal posts in government in his role as Solicitor General under the Cameron and May governments and then Lord Chancellor under Boris Johnson before he was replaced by Raab. Opting for Buckland would almost certainly see much of Raab’s legacy as Justice Secretary unravel. Buckland criticized Raab’s pet bill, the Bill of Rights, which largely ignored recommendations from the Justice Department’s independent human rights law review. If he returns to the post of Lord Chancellor, he is likely to water down the bill, although others could also do the same.
Son of Sir John Timpson, owner of the famous chain of key-cutting and shoe repair shops, Edward Timpson practiced family law as a solicitor in Cheshire, specializing in cases involving vulnerable children. He made headlines in 2014 for his foster care reforms, being named Minister of the Year in 2014 for his efforts. He attributes his passion in this field to his parents who took in 87 children over a 30-year period, some of whom grew up with Timpson. The collapse of Boris Johnson’s premiership, however, saw him take on the role of Solicitor General and back Rishi Sunak in the Tory leadership election. It remains to be seen whether he remains in this position, is promoted or demoted.
This former criminal lawyer, who described himself as being “on the left” of the Conservative party, is a sort of legal hero. With various awards and accolades for his pro bono work over his 20-year career as a criminal lawyer (plus a stint as a jockey!), Guy Opperman found his purpose in politics working in the ministry for Work and Pensions, where he has served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State since 2017. The Buckingham law graduate, however, clearly has strong views on the criminal justice system, as evidenced by his 2012 book Making Time: Prisons in the 21st Century. With a stellar reputation and long experience at the criminal bar, perhaps Opperman is a well-placed outsider who could thaw tensions with criminal attorneys?
Who do you think will get one of the best legal posts in the new government? Let us know in the comments below!