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Silk 2021 – QC Competition

 ***** UPDATE  18 February 2021*****

“Many, many thanks, and more thanks for all the expert help and encouragement you gave, it was invaluable.”                   

The 2021 competition launched today with the deadline for applications at 5pm on 31 March 2021.

The 2021 competition is very similar to last year’s, although they have increased the character count for the main sections and the length of time you can draw your cases from. However, can I strongly recommend looking at the actual on-line application form, so that you fully understand what is required?  Last year they made some changes and their guidance remains a bit opaque. However, I was advised: “It is possible to have an overlap when describing summary of practise (Section E) and providing case summaries. If applicants are having difficulty understanding what the form requires and feel the Guidance is insufficient, they are of course very welcome to contact the office directly.”

“Hi Tim. I’m pleased to tell you that your record of successfully getting people through continues. Many thanks for all your patience & it definitely made all the difference.” 

First and foremost, do read the QC Appointment 2021 Guidance. But I would also strongly recommend that you consider the 2020 competition report  and especially the panel’s approach to the competencies  these will give you a real insight into who gets appointed and why.

It is a straight forward process, but the application form can initially appear daunting.  Always have a copy of the competency framework to hand and throughout the competition make this your plumb line. Do download a PDF of the form so you can fully see what is required, draft in Word and then you can copy and paste into the actual on-line application form.

The Dirty Dozen

You have to demonstrate the competencies by reference to your 12 most important, recent cases. So your application revolves around these cases. I assume because of he pandemic you can, for this year’s competition, draw your cases from the last 4 years: “A brief explanation if you need to go back further than the last four years (i.e. before 2017) to name your 12 important cases or if you are able to name fewer than 12 cases.” 

Your judicial, professional and lay assessors (referees) will have to provide evidence of how you demonstrated the competencies in these 12 cases. Your assessors are essential to a successful application, make sure they are willing to confirm your excellence.

“The Panel is looking for your demonstration of the competencies in cases of substance.  The Panel will have regard to the case, and your role in it, and the degree of challenge and how you dealt with it. The Panel draws a distinction between ‘run of the mill’ cases (which may have important consequences for the immediate client, but may present limited legal or other professional challenge) from those cases which present unusual, novel or unforeseen complexities or have consequences beyond the case.

Moreover, it does not follow that all hearings in self-evidently important or substantial cases will themselves raise the same challenge or substance as the case as a whole. “

Develop an overview plan of your cases. Consider in which ones you best demonstrated excellence and would also draw the support of sufficient assessors.

“The chat this morning was great. I feel much more confident about how to approach the early stages now. I will definitely be in touch once the competition opens  I’ve worked on some parts of the form.

Time Bandits

The guidance on the QC Application website is excellent and there is no point in me repeating it here. But this short video on application forms may well be worth investing a few minutes of your time to watch. However, developing a successful application will require a considerable amount of time and effort – probably 30-40 hours or more! So get started as soon as you can, and work on it in bite sized chunks. Excellent candidates, by definition, have busy practices as well as other commitments – so I recommend you schedule in the necessary time.

With A Little Help From My Friends

Do ask successful colleagues if you can look at their forms. Contrary to the panel’s advice, do seek help from others: family, friends and even professionals like me!  There are plenty of us, which either means we have very little work or a lot of candidates use us? How I work with successful candidates – here.

For a confidential initial discussion please call me on 0796 999 7335 or e-mail [email protected]

I successfully coached my first barrister to take Silk in 1998 – the process was much easier then!

“I will gladly be quoted singing your praises”  – Silk