Category Archives: News

Silk 2018

Summary of the silk process this year, that remains primarily to identify excellence in advocacy:

  • The deadline is 5pm on Wed 28th March 2018
  • You can now use cases going back 3 yearswithout needing to justify why – they would prefer 2 years as memories fade beyond 2 years, but you can use 3 year cases if necessary.  They suggest you avoid using cases beyond 3 years, but you can if you justify it
  • You need 12 cases, if possible, of your most important cases in last 2/3 years.  Worth checking in advance with QCA if aiming to use fewer than 12 cases, to pass your reasons why past them first, but there seems to be more flexibility if you have a strong reason and don’t have cases that go back beyond 3 years either. Toning down of language and measures for substantive nature of cases
  • Assessors:Name at least 8, and up to 12, judges – Name 6 practitioners – Name at least 4, and up to 6, clients – so aim for 8-6-4, no advantage having more Js or Cs
  • Need good reason if don’t have the number of assessors (8/6/4) and indeed the form includes a tick box to show you know that your application will be materially affected if you have significantly fewer than 8/6/4 assessors
  • They specifically mention opponents as useful practitioner assessors this year – especially if they are QCs
  • Avoid having majority of practitioner assessors from your own chambers/firm
  • The Narrative Description of practice has 4,000 characters to describe your practice and justify your 12 cases
  • There remains a limit of 2,750 charactersper competency in the self-assessment – this is about 400-450 words MAX
  • Of particular importance in oral advocacy is XX and X-in-C, if your practice encompasses this
  • In the assessor section, section H, there are 1,000 characters to describe your cases, and 3 boxes for cases they have seen you in
  • If you see a case at first instance and on appeal, only list the case once – but OK if case covers substantially different issues
  • If you are using a case that is on-going, it needs to have had a sufficiently substantive hearing or development to be included – and don’t have too many on-going cases
  • You can send skeletons to assessors in advance when you ask them if they are prepared to be an assessor and we would encourage you to do so
  • Diversity section can explicitly use sitting/arbitrator examples now as it can relate to your wider professional life
  • Integrity – there is normally no need to complete this section
  • There is wider clarification of the relevant jurisdictionsin Part One of the Guidance – make sure you ring the QCA if you have Qs about jurisdictions such as NI, IoM, international arbitrations etc
  • Interviewswill be held in London and Manchester mid September to early October – results will be announced in December 2018
  • Test saving and using the 69 page pdf version of the application form before you start adding major text so you know that it works – you will need Adobe Reader DC, XI or X to complete it – if you cannot get it to work, contact QCA asap so that your problem can be resolved sooner rather than later
  • Fees are the same as last year – £1,800+VAT to apply (those who earn <£60K are entitled to a concessionary applic rate of £900+VAT) – then there is the £3,000+VAT appointment fee if you are successful
  • Sir Alex Allan now chairs the panel and Rachel Langdale QC, Penny Reed QC and Monisha Shah have joined the panel – there is a judicial panel vacancy

We would also recommend that you read the reports from the last competition including the detailed review of the competencies via this link.

Get in touch asap if you want to get a first draft date in the diary, as slots fill up very quickly.

And good luck everyone.


Silk 2018

The Silk 2018 competition has just launched – deadline is 28 March.  We will update changes to the process this year once we have had a chance to read through the Guidelines etc.

If you have arranged contact with Kate, Gwyn, Ann or Simon, then you might want to start planning first draft meetings in their diaries, to set effective deadlines for 28 March submission.

Here we go …………… and Happy Valentine’s Day ………..

Recorder competition launches

The Recorder competition has now launched.  100 vacancies (70 crime; 30 family).

Key dates:

  • Register online by 8 Feb
  • Online qualifying test 15 Feb
  • Online scenario test 7 March
  • If get through these two online sifts then submit application form by 20 April
  • Next sift is a Telephone Assessment 4-23 May
  • Interview and role play 6-26 July

Link to JAC website for further details.

Next silk competition …….

The QCA have announced:

“It is expected that the next competition will open on Thursday 16th February 2017, with a closure time and date of 5pm on Thursday 30th March 2017. The 2017 Guidance to Applicants and the 2017 Application Form will be available from the opening date.  These dates still await confirmation.”

Link to QCA website

Women at the Bar Survey

Results of the recent survey for Women at the Bar are now available – over 1300 women at the Bar responded (that’s about a quarter of all women at the Bar) – sad to see that 2 out of 5 respondents have had experience of harassment and discrimination though.

Link to report available below.

Makes interesting reading for those determined to help retain quality talent at the Bar.

Gender Diversity in Law Firms

Diversity & Inclusion is an important issue for law firms. There have been some improvements, yet the statistics show that most talented women are still choosing to leave firms and make alternative career choices. Overall, still only about 20% of partners are women.

Are firms really committed to change or are they just ticking boxes?  These and other relevant questions are addressed in this short survey for women in law firms to see what firms need to do to have more women in senior leadership positions.

We’d love to hear from you.  It takes just 2 minutes to complete.  It’s totally confidential.  You can get the results.

Presentation skills for public speaking

Barristers can present in court but when it comes to public speaking for seminars, conferences or event speeches that is something quite different and many struggle to find the right balance.

Christie Jennings is a partner Sherwood has worked with jointly on projects for many years and she is well used to dealing with lawyers who might find these softer skills harder to approach.  She has developed a course to help prepare members for the very different forum of public speaking.  Skills useful when pitching for work, giving speeches or presentations as well as doing marketing seminars.

The link below takes you to Christie’s website for more background about her and what she does.

I am working with Christie on this project and we are looking at a 3 hour course for up to 6 people – any more than that and individuals don’t get the same level of feedback and practice that is meaningful.  It is also useful when developing this kind of skill to get people out of their own space and get them somewhere different, to just change the dynamics and provide a more creative space for this session.  We therefore suggest running the course in London from the Practive space in Hoxton to achieve that.

A morning session could then run from 9am-12noon and include coffee and croissant type start and a coffee break in the middle.

We are planning to run some public courses for the Bar and we will be selling spaces for that at £300 + VAT per person.

It may be that some sets would like to have a specific session just for their members at a cost of £1,800 + VAT for up to 6 people.  This is equally possible and could be run internally, although getting people out of their comfort zone is a useful thing to do!

Some may then want additional one-to-one sessions with individuals or a team of two or three preparing for a particular event to help them with the structure and presentation of the seminar/workshop.  This could be provided by either Christie or me or both of us at £275/hour each for prep and meeting/discussion time.

Christie has just worked with one of my barrister clients recently to help him prepare for a dinner speech – his feedback was Happen to think your kind of skilled training is far more focused than much bar training.  Happy to recommend in a workshop environment.”

If this is something you’d be interested in developing with us, then please get in touch and we can talk through some options.