Senior Counsel Versus Senior Lawyer: What’s the Difference?

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Last updated on May 4th, 2023 at 09:29 pm

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In Uganda, the legal profession is held in high regard and there are many accomplished lawyers who have made significant contributions to the legal field.

Two terms that are often used to describe lawyers who have achieved a certain level of seniority or expertise in their practice are “Senior Counsel” and “Senior Lawyer.”


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While these two terms may sound similar, they actually have distinct meanings and implications.

In this article, we will explore the differences between Senior Counsel and Senior Lawyers in Uganda.


Who is a Senior Counsel?

The term Senior Counsel is an honorific title that is conferred by the Chief Justice of Uganda to Advocates who have demonstrated exceptional skill and expertise in the practice of law.

The title is considered to be a mark of distinction and recognition for an Advocate’s achievements in the legal field.

Senior Counsel is a title that is specifically related to the legal profession and is often considered to be a great honor for an Advocate to receive.

In Uganda, the process for conferring the title of Senior Counsel involves the “Committee on Senior Counsel” established under The Advocates (Senior Counsel) Regulations of 2018 which repealed the old “Advocates (Special Rank) Regulations” making recommendations to the Chief Justice of Uganda.

The Committee on Senior Counsel has powers to determine which Advocate (s) deserves the title on the basis of the Advocate’s experience, expertise, professional conduct, and contribution to the legal profession and the country as a whole.

Under the old law, the number of Senior Counsels in Uganda at any given time was limited to 25 and the President (who had the mandate of conferring the title under the old law) could not grant the title to more than three Advocates in a year.

Advocates who think they deserve the title are allowed to make an Application to the Committee on Senior Counsel which then considers such Applications for purposes of recommending (or not) the Advocate for the grant of the Title of Senior Counsel.

However, Advocates who are appointed Attorney General or who serve as President of the Uganda Law Society are entitled to the grant of the Senior Counsel title by virtue of their positions.

Once conferred, Senior Counsel in Uganda is entitled to use the honorific title, and are recognized as distinguished members of the legal profession.

An Advocate who has been granted the title of Senior Counsel is entitled to use the word “Senior Counsel” or the initials “SC” after his or her name.

He or she is also required to appear in Court dressed in a black gown, with purple embroidery, silk flaps, and a wig.

A Senior Counsel does not appear in Courts below the High Court and he or she must appear in Court with an Assistant Counsel (not Senior Counsel though.)

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Who is a Senior Lawyer?

The term Senior Lawyer is a more general term that is used to describe lawyers who have achieved a certain level of seniority or expertise in their practice, but who have not necessarily been conferred with the title of Senior Counsel.

Senior Lawyers may be lawyers who have many years of experience in their practice area, or who hold leadership positions in their law firms or professional organizations.

Unlike the title of Senior Counsel, the term Senior Lawyer does not confer any specific legal privileges or rights.

However, Senior Lawyers are often highly respected in the legal profession and are recognized for their contributions to it.

It is important to note that in Uganda, under the Advocates Act, the Seniority of lawyers (other than the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and Senior Counsels) over each other is also determined by the date when they were enrolled on the Roll of Advocates.


In conclusion, while the terms Senior Counsel and Senior Lawyer may sound similar, they have distinct meanings and implications in the legal profession in Uganda.

Understanding the differences between these terms helps provide clarity and context to discussions about the legal profession in Uganda.

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