The silk route

The number of barristers making silk has hit an all time low, with just 84 succeeding in the latest round, announced today. Brick Court Chambers, Essex Court Chambers and Doughty Street were the big winners this year, each adding four silks apiece to their roster.

Solicitor advocates, however, appeared to be the biggest losers, with just one being awarded the coveted QC moniker. Skadden partner Karyl Nairn, who featured in The Lawyer Hot 100 this year, was the only one to make the final list. Nairn helped manage a mammoth defence team for Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, who faced a $6bn claim from rival Boris Berezovsky.

Brick Court’s Andrew Henshaw was part of the counsel team instructed by Nairn. Called to the bar in 2000, Henshaw has also been awarded silk, the most junior in the pack. Serle Court’s Jonathan Adkin, who is also featured in The Lawyer Hot 100 last year, was also involved in the battle and is also one of this year’s chosen few.

But while the public’s thirst for juicy litigation battles on an epic scale has been stoked by warring oligarchs, the truth is that, for the most part, fewer litigants are willing to take their fight to the High Court. That means fewer opportunities for junior barristers to prove their mettle.

Just look at the numbers: in 2006/07 175 barristers made silk – more than double this year’s 84. That’s quite a silk cut.


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