What is a Silk, in the English legal system?

Nick Singer

30 January 2018

A Silk or a Queen's Counsel is an eminent lawyer usually a barrister who is appointed by the Queen to be one of "Her Majesty's Counsel learned in the law." The term is also recognised as an honorific and means a "Senior Counsel" or "Senior Advocate". Queen's Counsel is a status, conferred by the Crown, which is recognised by courts.

Members have the privilege of sitting within the Bar of court.
As members can wear silk gowns of a particular design, the award of Queen's Counsel is known informally as taking silk, and hence QCs are often colloquially called silks. Appointments are made from within the legal profession on the basis of merit rather than a particular level of experience. However, successful applicants tend to be barristers, or (in Scotland) advocates with 15 years of experience or more.

Expert employment barrister Nick Singer explains what a silk is in the English legal system.

Hello. my name is Mark Ferron and if you would like to know what a silk is in the English legal system, then watch this short video and expert barrister Nick Singer will explain.

A silk also known as a QC is a very senior barrister and it's basically when you've got to a senior part of your career you've done a lot of very big cases perhaps gone to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court you've got to the position where you can apply to a committee and sort of get this stamp to say that you are a very very senior, very very high-quality barrister and as I say if you apply to the committee and you're awarded it then you become as silk or a QC.

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