Silk applications

Since the competency-based selection process for silk was introduced in 2005, the Sherwood Bar group has worked with hundreds of barristers and solicitors, to help them navigate what can initially be a rather daunting process, and to maximise their chances of making a successful application.

We know that each client’s practice is different, and we treat each client as a unique individual seeking to put together the strongest application to reflect their own particular areas of expertise and to showcase their strengths.   We do not “cherry-pick” our clients. We are happy to support anyone who has decided to apply or is considering making an application. But also, if we think that a potential application is not as strong as it needs to be, or if we think a candidate would be better served by waiting a year or more before applying in order to address some weaker areas, we will not hesitate to provide the necessary feedback and advice.

Each year our clients represent around one-third of all successful Silks, and we are very proud of our success rates and the strong relationships we build with our clients.

 

How can we help you?

Deciding to apply

We understand that it takes time to bring together a successful silk application and the process can be daunting initially. We encourage barristers to start to think about the shape of a potential application well in advance. In some cases this may be one or two years before making an application.

Planning ahead can help you to better understand the application process and provide an opportunity to review your practice in terms of the competencies that need to be demonstrated in an application for silk.  We can help you to reflect on both the strengths of a potential application, as well as any possible gaps or challenges you may wish to focus on prior to applying.

Pre-application support is charged on an hourly rate of £400 + VAT.

Preparing your application

Once you have decided to apply for silk we can assist you with putting together the application across different stages of the process.

The first stage would consist of a big picture review meeting (ideally in the summer or autumn before making an application), in which we can help you to select the strongest examples to demonstrate that you meet the required standard across each of the competencies, and also to discuss the selection of assessors who will be able to provide the best evidence that you are ready for silk.

The second stage, usually in January / February, would then be to support you in preparing a first draft. We provide you with bespoke guidance on the best way to approach completing the form, before reviewing a first draft in detail and providing you with specific feedback. We would then discuss with you the strengths and gaps in the application and consider where you may want to draw upon different examples in order to bolster the evidence you provide.

As a third stage, we would undertake a full review of a second draft and provide final feedback by email.

Although most applicants follow a similar process, we recognise that all applications are unique and therefore will require different levels of support with different areas of focus.

Our fees are based on an hourly rate of £400 + VAT. From our experience an applicant seeking support across all three stages could anticipate this taking approximately five to eight hours.

We can, however, offer complete flexibility for candidates who want only one draft review or alternatively for those who want additional meetings or more than two reviews.

Reduced rates – for those who qualify for the KCA’s reduced rate application fee, we are happy to offer a 50% discount on our rates for application support. Please get in touch with us to discuss in confidence.

Preparing for your interview

Most barristers we work with tell us that they have not had an interview for many years, and most have never had a competency-based interview.

To help candidates prepare for an interview in September / October, we offer the opportunity of a practice panel interview using examples of competency-based questions based on your own application. This is usually 10-14 days in advance of your interview. We provide detailed robust feedback and offer tools and techniques to help you to improve your responses.  Our clients tell us that these practice sessions help them to feel much more confident and better prepared going into their actual interview.

A two-hour interview preparation session with a mock panel consisting of two of our coaches is £1,500 + VAT.

Some barristers then ask for a further one hour top-up practice session with one coach, closer to their interview date. The cost is £450 + VAT.

In the last couple of years, a number of candidates have wanted to use the quieter months over the summer to get a better appreciation of what a silk interview is like and to understand the nature of a competency-based interview and the types of questions that might be asked.  We offer a one hour warm-up session to discuss how to prepare effectively and to practise answering some competency-based questions. The cost is £450 + VAT.

If you feel your needs would be better met by support in a different format, please get in touch to discuss your needs.  We are happy to be flexible and offer tailored support.

If your chambers might be interested in holding a silk taster event we are happy to offer free one hour sessions in person or by Zoom in which we outline the process, explain what being ready for silk might look like, what examples will need to be included in an application, how to identify your likely best assessors and then how to approach the interview. These can be particularly helpful for barristers who may be a few years away from making an application but want to plan their practice ahead of time in order to put themselves in the best position to do so at some point in the future.

What our clients say

Let me say, first of all, that whatever the outcome of the process, my performance in the interview would have been much, much less adept without your assistance - which I found invaluable - and for which I owe you both many thanks. So, thank you!
Sherwood - consultants to professional service firms
2021-10-20T13:18:11+00:00
Let me say, first of all, that whatever the outcome of the process, my performance in the interview would have been much, much less adept without your assistance - which I found invaluable - and for which I owe you both many thanks. So, thank you!
Just a quick (and rather belated) note to thank all of you for your help with my application. You all made the elongated, stressful and at first incomprehensible process so much easier.
Sherwood - consultants to professional service firms
2021-10-20T13:18:30+00:00
Just a quick (and rather belated) note to thank all of you for your help with my application. You all made the elongated, stressful and at first incomprehensible process so much easier.
My overwhelming thought as they kept asking another of your questions was how good you are at your job. You prepared me so effectively. You made me think about everything in advance and I felt so much more confident in the interview as a result.
Sherwood - consultants to professional service firms
2021-10-20T13:52:36+00:00
My overwhelming thought as they kept asking another of your questions was how good you are at your job. You prepared me so effectively. You made me think about everything in advance and I felt so much more confident in the interview as a result.
I can say for certain that you prepared me perfectly – there were no questions that came as a surprise!
Sherwood - consultants to professional service firms
2021-10-20T13:54:32+00:00
I can say for certain that you prepared me perfectly – there were no questions that came as a surprise!
Thanks again for all your invaluable assistance this year, particularly for Ann’s endless patience with and improvements to my form.
Sherwood - consultants to professional service firms
2021-10-20T13:55:41+00:00
Thanks again for all your invaluable assistance this year, particularly for Ann’s endless patience with and improvements to my form.
Huge thanks to both of you for all the help and support - it was invaluable. V grateful indeed. And will certainly recommend you to any colleagues who consider applying in future.
Sherwood - consultants to professional service firms
2021-10-20T13:56:46+00:00
Huge thanks to both of you for all the help and support - it was invaluable. V grateful indeed. And will certainly recommend you to any colleagues who consider applying in future.
I have just heard that my application for Silk has been successful. I wanted to let you know because I found your guidance, advice and support throughout the process absolutely invaluable. I am immensely grateful to you both for your sound judgement.
Sherwood - consultants to professional service firms
2021-11-17T17:00:10+00:00
I have just heard that my application for Silk has been successful. I wanted to let you know because I found your guidance, advice and support throughout the process absolutely invaluable. I am immensely grateful to you both for your sound judgement.
I am not allowed to tell you about the content of my interview; but I think that I am allowed to tell you that the preparatory session that you gave me proved to be very appropriate. I would need a lot more practice to be good at the techniques; but I hope that, thanks to your help, I will not get any more practice! I am grateful to you both.
Sherwood - consultants to professional service firms
2021-11-17T17:01:34+00:00
I am not allowed to tell you about the content of my interview; but I think that I am allowed to tell you that the preparatory session that you gave me proved to be very appropriate. I would need a lot more practice to be good at the techniques; but I hope that, thanks to your help, I will not get any more practice! I am grateful to you both.
Thank you so, so much for all your help. I have been telling everyone (i) not to leave it to the last moment to write the form and (ii) to at the very least get some interview training. I hope that you will be very busy next year with my friends! Your help was invaluable.
Sherwood - consultants to professional service firms
2021-11-17T17:03:00+00:00
Thank you so, so much for all your help. I have been telling everyone (i) not to leave it to the last moment to write the form and (ii) to at the very least get some interview training. I hope that you will be very busy next year with my friends! Your help was invaluable.
I have had so many lovely letters and emails that I have failed to thank you when I should have done so already. What you provided was professionalism, cool analysis and excellent confidence building. May I thank you most sincerely and encourage you to keep doing what you are doing. As you know barristers are a funny bunch, at once confident in their own abilities yet lacking in so many other ways. Your service is like a well prepared set of instructions: no spare copies, no messy presentation, no misguided flannel, just the core documents and focus in the issues.
Sherwood - consultants to professional service firms
2021-11-17T17:03:48+00:00
I have had so many lovely letters and emails that I have failed to thank you when I should have done so already. What you provided was professionalism, cool analysis and excellent confidence building. May I thank you most sincerely and encourage you to keep doing what you are doing. As you know barristers are a funny bunch, at once confident in their own abilities yet lacking in so many other ways. Your service is like a well prepared set of instructions: no spare copies, no messy presentation, no misguided flannel, just the core documents and focus in the issues.
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Sherwood - consultants to professional service firms