Career progression once you've joined the legal profession perhaps is not a high priority while youre still trying to get your foot in the door. This week, however, the new silk appointments have been the talk of the town.
For the uninitiated, a silk is a barrister or solicitor who receives the royal seal of approval. Also known as Queens Counsel (QC) this elite group of lawyers are appointed to be Her Majesty's Counsel learned in the law.
Well-known QCs include former Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie Booth QC, Michael Mansfield QC, Gordon Pollock QC known for being one of the most expensive barristers in recent times and TV's James Kavanagh QC.
This year 97 barristers and one solicitor were given the coveted accolade of QC (see story) in what was the second round of silk applications since the rules of appointment were radically reformed.
Up until 2003 barristers of between 15 and 20 years call - and solicitors of equivalent standing - who felt they were at the top of their game could apply to be considered for the title of QC.
After that the process was out of their hands. The process to decide who would be made up to silk, as it is called, was held through secret soundings. Nobody ever knew why a barrister was appointed or why they were rejected.
From 2005, however, this all changed as a QC secretariat, an independent appointment board, was put in place to make the system more transparent.
The board seek applications and interviews potential silks and after 12 to 18 months announce the chosen few. The new process also sees the body provide feedback to those that lose out to give them a fighting chance the next time they apply.
At the first silk round to take place under the new system, known as the 2006 appointments though the process started in 2005, 175 barristers and lawyers were made up.
This year the appointments were dramatically reduced but this was due to no silks being made up for three years as the QC appointments board was being set up.
But what is the point of taking silk? Well, the senior bar, as it is known, can charge higher fees than their junior counterparts.
Lets face it though, its really all about the prestige.