Top lawyers are a step closer to being able to become Queen's Counsel after a bill to reinstate the title passed its first reading in Parliament.

Associate Justice Minister Nathan Guy said the Lawyers and Conveyancers Amendment Bill was an important step in reinstating the status.

"Queen's Counsel" was replaced with "Senior Counsel" by the previous Labour Government but Mr Guy said lawyers had said the new title did not adequately reflect the nature and status of the rank.