Big wigs and buckled shoes out in force as barristers celebrate Silk Day

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First KC ceremony in 70 years

Credit: Essex Court Chambers

The Westminster swearing-in ceremony where top barristers are formally appointed King’s Counsel took place earlier today and barristers and chambers alike have been busy on social media celebrating the special occasion.

Silk Day saw the new KCs donning full bottomed wigs, ceremonial robes and silver buckled shoes, while the eye-catching white silk gloves that complete the ensemble are only meant to be held.

The ceremonial tradition dates back to 1597 when the first QC was appointed by Queen Elizabeth I. The passing of Queen Elizabeth II last September was the first time after her 70-year reign that QCs became KCs once more.

The process is pricey, with applicants coughing up £2,370 just to be considered by the appointments committee — a panel of senior lawyers, a retired judge and non-lawyers. A successful application will set applicants back a further £3,990 in appointment fees.

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This year, out of 279 applicants, 95 received the coveted KC title. Of those just 36 (38%) are women, leaving men to scoop up the other 62 percent of awards. This was despite a record number of women (77) making applications in this round.

Here’s a round-up of tweets from the barristers taking silk today:

Congratulations to all those who received their title today.



Or to put it another way, 47% of female applicants were successful. In comparison, only 29% of male applicants were successful.



There is blatant discrimination in the system, to the point that the panel have called on more women to apply simply because the success rates have been so high over time there is not a natural inflow of applicants at the rate to prop up positive discrimination. The panel body declare there is no discrimination policy without ever properly justifying the yawning gap in success rates year after year on applications.



So much ‘discrimination’ – ALL those female High Court and Supreme Court judges everywhere!

I can’t sneeze without bumping into a female judge or Head of Chambers.



We’re gonna be fineeeeeeee

That’s a ridiculous take and the fact you genuinely believe what you are saying makes my stomach turn. To claim men are not at an advantage in becoming successful lawyers is to claim the sky is green. Self-selectiveness is a form of selectiveness and, as such, the selection is harsher on women even in the case of making KC. To claim that the panel encourages women to apply because of any reason other than women are underrepresented among silks is a joke. And the alternative argument you propose is barely written in coherent english regardless of this. As a man going into law, I will do my best to succeed but it would be shameful for me to do so without acknowledging that my gender gave me a strong leg up. It would be clownish for me to blame my failures on the gender that has only even been allowed to join the professione recently. Come on. As my learned friend puts it, no one is TAKING YER JOBS.


Privilege v Natural Sporting Talent

No London crowds watching the procession? No celebrations or tweets from anyone else outside of immediate family or those who get a cut of the fees????

So different when it’s the England football team!



Look how many turn up to watch the Lord Mayor’s parade each year or the Queen’s funeral. It’s not as if people are opposed to watching pageantry – they just don’t like lawyers.



Do they rent the buckled shoes….or are there many pairs sitting in wardrobes unused after the ceremony?



We buy them. £200. Which is a drop in the ocean of the expense associated with being a silk.



Wait, you buy them to wear once????

Perhaps other barristers may write an open ‘letter of conscience’ as to how that practice isn’t eco-friendly and might destroy the planet?

Unless of course, they end up needing those ceremonial KC shoes themselves…


Phappy Phalange

Someone somewhere probably has a fetish for that sort of dress-up!


A proud clerk

So many jealous people commenting.



Jealous of all those survey results saying how stressed and miserable people are at the Bar.

Furiously jealous!


We’re gonna be fineeeeeeee

Yeah because men apply at a much higher rate — that is, even with applications that are much less strong.



Well done to all the Clerks and everyone else at 4 Pump court that helped make Silks day such a wonderfully memorable occasion.


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