Scotland and Northern Ireland
If you do not wish to do an LLB, it is possible to do a three-year, pre-diploma training contract with a qualified Scottish solicitor. Those following this route will complete a work based learning module set by the Law Society of Scotland and sit the Law Society’s professional exams at the end of the training contract. During the three years you must receive training in various prescribed areas. Vocational study All those who intend to practise as a solicitor or advocate (the equivalent of a barrister) must complete the Diploma in Legal Practice, a 26-week full-time course offered at six universities, namely Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Strathclyde, Edinburgh and Robert Gordon. The course imparts knowledge and skills necessary for working life, with an emphasis on practical application and much of the teaching carried out by practising lawyers.
As we already have a firm handle on how things work in England and Wales, let us now look at how lawyers are trained in other parts of the United Kingdom. Here follows a brief explanation of what happens in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Scotland Over the last few years, legal education and training in Scotland have undergone a major review. The “standard” route to qualification that most Scottish solicitors take is to do a four-year undergraduate degree in Scots law, followed by a mandatory one-year course called the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice and finally a two-year “traineeship” at a solicitors’ firm. Non-law graduates must complete a two-year accelerated LLB in Scots law, after which the route is the same as the above. There is also a third option for those who do not want to – or are unable to – attend university. Instead of university, candidates can complete a three-year pre- professional education and training (PEAT) training contract (yes, they like the word “training” so much they have used it twice). The compulsory Diploma in Professional Legal Practice follows this and the process ends with a further two-year traineeship. For the most up-to-date information, visit www. lawscot.org.uk. Undergraduate study It is possible to study for an LLB in Scots Law/Foundation Programme at 10 universities in Scotland. The ordinary degree takes three years, while the honours degree takes four. There are also accelerated degree options, which can be taken if you have a non-law first undergraduate degree. Students on the Scottish law degree at either the University of Dundee or the University of Strathclyde can take enough English law modules to earn a dual-qualified law degree, enabling them to progress to qualification in England and Wales or Scotland.
To qualify as a solicitor, individuals must complete a two-year traineeship. Trainees are usually paid by the training firm at least the minimum amount set by the Law Society of Scotland (from June 2020 £19,500 in the first year, £22,500 for the second year). During the training contract, trainees must complete a minimum of 60 hours of trainee continuing professional development, which is structured learning over and above the trainee’s office work. It is possible to be admitted as a solicitor after one year of training (especially useful if the trainee is to appear in court on behalf of clients); but normally, at the end of the two years – and provided that all conditions have been met – the trainee is admitted as a fully qualified solicitor. Advocates The body that administers the Scottish Bar is the Faculty of Advocates. Having completed the diploma, a trainee advocate (or ‘intrant’)
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