Expectant barristers will today learn whether their silk applications have been successful, with a formal announcement being made tomorrow. Here 11KBW’s Sean Jones QC talks about his first year as a silk.
My first year in silk began with me emerging from my office, dressed in full rig and presenting myself, shiny buckles and all, to my family. My daughters promptly laughed so hard I thought they might pass out where they stood.
I hitched up my rented trousers and mustered my dignity. Becoming Queen’s Counsel (QC) feels like starting at secondary school. You feel simultaneously very grown up and yet at the same time you are conscious that you are the scrubbed and shiny new boy.
The effect on my practice was immediate.
The first two or three months saw my diary wriggle clear of all the short appointments and straightforward advices I had hoped I might leave behind. The next few months were spent slowly realising the significance of the contribution that such work once made to my income. In their place have come instructions in bigger and more complex matters.
My sense of excitement at the challenge is only exceeded by my sense of gratitude to those who have sent me the instructions. The hyper-inflation of the ego that taking silk can easily induce makes it particularly important to remind oneself that a successful career is founded on individual decisions made by colleagues to trust you with their case and the hard work of one’s clerks.
One consequence of the size and complexity of the litigation in which I am now instructed has been an increased propensity to settle. The greater diary volatility that this creates can whiten the knuckles.
I have found myself cursing mediators and the infuriating willingness of parties to be reasonable. When the cases fight you are, more often than not, against another silk. There are no easy wins to be had and that is a huge part of the attraction.
The collateral benefits have been substantial. Perhaps most importantly, my mother finally has a card to play in the competitive discussions of offspring career progress over tea with friends in Frinton-on-Sea. I have had a greater opportunity to work with juniors and have been a little more involved in the activities of my Inn of Court. I hope to do much more of both.
Good luck to those presently awaiting their envelopes. The magic letters will mean a new start and your daily task will be repaying the faith others have placed in you.
Sean Jones QC of 11KBW took silk in 2012