With special thanks to Rebecca Khan, who helped create this article.
Last month, Matrix Chambers hosted an informal forum for women barristers from across the Bar at any stage of their career to share and discuss the pitfalls, fears and practical tips about taking silk. Sarah Hannett QC and Lorna Skinner QC, alongside Zoe Leventhal and Sara Mansoori who will be appointed Queen’s Counsel this Spring presented the event.
Today, Her Bar shares a summary of some of the findings discussed during the forum...
The goal of the forum was to remove some of the secrecy which surrounds the application process, a culture which arguably lingers from the days of receiving a tap on the shoulder. The benefits of collaboration in all aspects of the Bar are significant and sharing knowledge about the journey to silk is no different.
The primary obstacle to feeling ready to apply for silk is often self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Barristers can mitigate this by openly talking about their application with their practice team or colleagues in chambers and carefully examining how the competencies match up to their experiences. The challenge of selecting judicial assessors may exacerbate fears of deficiency, but understanding how one’s work meets the competencies is a powerful prompt to reach out to assessors.
Many concerns surround life in silk, with uncertainty about what one’s future practice will look like and the consequences for earnings. The benefits of better work, the enhanced recognition of your skills and the positive experience of leading cases can, however, outweigh the drawbacks of quieter times in your diary. By communicating openly with instructing solicitors about the work they still want to take on, newly appointed QCs can alleviate some of these concerns, and ease the transition to silk.
Thank you to Matrix Chambers and the attendees at this event for discussing such an important topic and sharing knowledge on how to demystify the silk application process and paving the way for even more women to become QC in 2023 and beyond.