Time to progress

Are you considering whether it’s time to progress your career? Well chances are, it is absolutely the right time. There is a proven record of women applying for Silk and Judicial Appointments much later than male barristers at the Bar. Her Bar wants to encourage women barristers to apply earlier, ensuring to tailor their practice at the right time and keep an accurate record of work done.

Are you a legal professional looking for a career in the Judiciary? Not sure which Court or Tribunal would be of interest to you? Then try before you apply.

The Courts and Tribunals Judicial Diversity Committee introduces the Judicial Work Shadowing AND Mentoring Scheme. This provides its applicants with a unique opportunity to shadow or be mentored by a judge of their choice and get a first-hand experience of what a judge does on a typical day.  Applications from under-represented groups are particularly welcome. For further details on the scheme and how to apply, please visit their website - https://www.judicialcareers.judiciary.uk

Tips from Her Bar

Her Bar recognises that in order to prepare a successful application, women barristers need to know what is required of them.

Her Bar encourages you to check these criteria now -  just get started! It is much less helpful to have this information only at the application stage and have to consider how you have met the criteria retrospectively.

FOR SILK APPLICATIONS: Check the criteria here, and the Assessment forms here.

FOR JUDICIAL APPLICATIONS: Check eligibility here and how to prepare here.

QC applications usually require you to list 12 significant cases from the last two years, so it may is helpful to start recording any interesting work and how this meets the criteria before application time. This will save time and energy when it comes to preparing your application.

One reasons for men applying for progressive goals earlier is that women tend to wait until they are sure they are ready to apply. Whilst this tends to result in a great success rate of female applicants, it does slow down your individual progression rate.

Her Bar encourages women barristers to speak to QCs both male and female to ask how they found the application process and good evidence to include. This could take place at seminars, networking or events, or through mentoring. Her Bar has a dedicated mentoring scheme which can be found here.

4. CONSIDER COACHING. Many successful QCs have used coaching services in order to help their application and improve interview technique. Find out more on our dedicated Coaching page

5. WORK ON YOUR CONFIDENCE. If there is one tip you take away from this page, it’s to build on your confidence. Imposter syndrome is very common for women barristers, especially when seeking to progress, so be kind to yourself and take a minute to recognise exactly how far you’ve come and why you’d be a worthy applicant.

It’s also very important for women barristers especially to try not to compare to others in the profession, especially if they have made Silk with less call years than you. There are many different factors which can influence the career trajectory of a barrister – just focus on your own application.

Above all else, be brave and believe in yourself!

*QC and Judicial Appointment applications

Q: Do I have to be a barrister to apply? If so, for how long?
A: In England and Wales, to apply for Silk, you must be either a practising barrister or solicitor-advocate. There is no minimum year of practice in order to apply, only whether you meet the competency framework. For a judicial appointment you can apply at any age apart from the statutory retirement age of 70 for judges. Applications will have a relevant legal qualification and be able to demonstrate a ‘reasonable length of service’ – usually at least five years.

Q: How many years do I have to have to have practised to apply?
A: For a Judicial Appointment there is no upper or lower age limit for candidates, apart from the statutory retirement age of 70 for all judges. However, applicants should be able to offer a ‘reasonable length of service’ – usually at least five years.

Q: What is the application process?
A: Applications usually provide evidence from several cases they have worked on and references and confidential assessments from judges, fellow advocates, and professional clients are considered before successful candidates are invited to interview. during the interview, applicants sit before a selection panel of 10 people, comprising of barristers, solicitors, a retired judge and non-lawyers.

Q: When should I apply?
A: This answer will vary from barrister to barrister but the general trend for women barristers is sooner than you think! Ideally you should review your practice the year before applying for silk and ask yourself whether you could demonstrate 6-7 serious cases for that year. If so,  would you be able to replicate this standard the year after? In which case, you will have sufficient evidence to begin your application.