The road to Silk: How Giles Maynard-Connor QC achieved his career dream
March 15, 2021
Giles Maynard-Connor QC is a name that sounds right at home in the upper echelons of the legal profession.
But this down to earth Yorkshireman does not fit the stereotype of a lawyer born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
Giles’ elevation to silk, which takes effect today (15 March 2021), is the realisation of his “career dream”.
“I have been incredibly fortunate over the years to have been instructed by some fantastic Solicitors on so many great cases, and to have achieved my career dream is truly brilliant. It’s been hard work all the way,” says Giles, whose double-barrelled surname is actually a result of his parents’ divorce whilst he was a young boy.
Giles comes from a working-class mining family, and whilst at school he spent his spare time selling wool on his mother’s market stalls. No stranger to hard work from an early age, Giles set his sights on a legal career, inspired by 1970s courtroom drama, Crown Court.
After attending Lancaster University and the Inns of Court School of Law in London, Giles was drawn to Manchester because of the strength of the City’s commercial bar.
During his career, Giles has been instructed in complex, heavyweight commercial matters. An early career highlight was Ultraframe (UK) Limited v Fielding & Ors, a case described by Mr Justice Lewison (as he then was) as a “long war of attrition” in which the trial alone (2004-05) occupied 95 days of court time.
Exposure to high profile cases has enabled Giles to work with and learn from some of the country’s leading silks. In the Ultraframe litigation, one of the instructed silks was Richard Snowden QC, now The Hon. Mr Justice Snowden, Vice Chancellor of the County Palatine and Supervising Judge of the Business and Property Courts for the North and North-Eastern Circuits.
With an in-depth understanding of the commercial world, Giles’ practice has a particular emphasis on civil and corporate fraud, company and contentious insolvency work, professional negligence and banking. He has appeared at all levels up to and including the Court of Appeal and has acted in the Supreme Courts of the Seychelles, and Gibraltar.
In recent years, Giles has successfully completed a number of high-profile, high-value corporate fraud cases and has acted as the lead Counsel for the Secretary of State in what was then the largest public interest winding-up petition brought by Companies Investigations.
He also dealt with the well-publicised insolvency of the Redcar based steel business operated by SSI UK Ltd (now in liquidation), and has represented over 300 claimants in a multi-million-pound corporate fraud in the Cayman Islands.
Giles’ silk appointment coincides with his twentieth year as a member of Exchange Chambers in Manchester. He joined Exchange in 2001 as part of a team of eight barristers, giving the Set its first full-time members in Manchester.
A lot has changed over the last two decades, with the Chambers now having 82 barristers in Manchester based at its city centre offices at 201 Deansgate. With its Leeds and Liverpool offices and a total of 195 barristers across the three cities, Exchange is widely regarded as the “Northern Powerhouse”.
Giles describes Exchange as “one big family” and says its members and “exceptional clerks” have supported him “every step of the way”. He singles out Anthony Elleray QC and Mark Cawson QC (now HHJ Cawson QC, who last year became a Specialist Civil Circuit Judge at the Business and Property Courts in Manchester), as particularly positive influences on his career.
Within Chambers, Giles is Head of the Commercial Department, and also sits on Chambers’ Management Board and Equality & Diversity Committee. He is the driving force behind a 5-year plan to grow Exchange’s commercial team and increase its silk count, and is particularly passionate about the need for greater equality, diversity and inclusion at the Bar, regularly acting as a Pupil Supervisor, and mentor to aspiring barristers of colour and from all backgrounds.
“The Bar needs to improve all aspects of diversity and inclusion,” says Giles. “At Exchange, we have a clear plan with actionable measures to deliver real change.”
As to his plans for his silk’s practice, cricket fan Giles says he will take his time “to build a long and hopefully successful innings – this is no T20!”
A long-standing member of the Attorney General’s Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown (Panel A), he will now join the Government Legal Department’s list of Queen’s Counsel and continue to act for Government departments.
Moving forward, Giles believes the Covid-19 pandemic has “pressed the fast forward button on the modernisation of the Commercial Bar”.
“My practice is now almost entirely paperless and while remote working is here to stay, there will always be a requirement for bricks and mortar offices and courts,” he says. “At Exchange, we have recently agreed new ten-year leases in both Manchester and Leeds. It demonstrates our confidence in the future of the Regional Bar.”
The high regard in which Giles is held by his solicitor clients and barristers on Circuit is evidenced by his rankings in the legal directories and the wide range of testimonials on his website profile.
Described as “technically very able; a clear and persuasive advocate; proactive, responsive and team focused”, Giles’ “advocacy is as good as any of the top silks at any of the leading sets” according to The Legal 500. Chambers UK says he is “an excellent strategist and an effortless advocate”.
Perhaps the most telling comment, comes from a prominent commercial solicitor who described Giles as a “QC in waiting”.
As he embarks upon the next chapter of his career, the waiting is over for Giles Maynard Connor QC.