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Studying and Practising Law in Scotland

Interested in becoming a solicitor in beautiful Scotland? This page runs through the potential routes into the Scottish legal system, as well as how to convert when you’ve already qualified.


Routes to Qualification

If you’re an aspiring solicitor, you have three possible routes, which depend on what stage you’re at:

  1. The ‘Standard Route’
    The vast majority of people take the ‘standard route’ to qualification, which is most-suited to those attending university for the first time.
  2. The ‘Accelerated Route’
    If you already have a degree in another discipline, or a law degree awarded in another jurisdiction, the ‘accelerated’ route might be best for you.
  3. The ‘Alternative to University’  
    There are various reasons you might not be able to go back to university to study the LLB, therefore undertaking a pre-PEAT training contract in conjunction with the Law Society’s exams is an option.
    The Pre-PEAT traineeship is designed as an alternative to the LLB.

1. Standard Route

For the vast majority of aspiring solicitors, the LLB degree is the first stage of formal legal training. There are around 3,500 LLB students in Scotland!

You must undertake an LLB course run by an accredited provider. These include:

UniversityAccelerated Option?
The University of AberdeenYes
The University of AbertayNo
The University of DundeeYes
The University of EdinburghYes
The University of GlasgowYes
Glasgow Caledonian UniversityYes
Edinburgh Napier UniversityYes
Robert Gordon UniversityYes
The University of StirlingYes
The University of StrathclydeYes

Find out more about accredited providers >>

Applications are mode through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)Non-LLB courses and alternative courses at other providers are not recognised by the Law Society of Scotland as part of the route to qualifying as a Scottish solicitor.

During the LLB, you will study all aspects of Scots Law that will allow you to practise as a Scottish solicitor once you have also completed the Law Society of Scotland’s Professional Education and Training (PEAT) programme:

There are undergraduate, postgraduate, full-time, part-time and online options so you can fit studying the LLB around your own personal circumstances

The Diploma in Professional Legal Practice

This is a mandatory phase of training to become a solicitor. You must have an LLB to undertake the Diploma and you must have a valid Diploma to be eligible to work as a trainee solicitor. Evidence of this will be required for you to be granted an entrance certificate by the Law Society of Scotland.

Find out more about the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice >>

Traineeship

The traineeship sees you complete your training within the workplace working under the supervision of a Scottish-qualified solicitor. During your two years as a trainee, you will be required to fulfil certain obligations in order to demonstrate you are competent and ready to qualify as a solicitor.

Read more on what a traineeship is here >>

Do I need to study specific subjects during my LLB to become a Scottish solicitor?

Yes. All students aiming to qualify as a solicitor must ensure that they study specific subjects that are designed to meet the Law Society’s foundation programme outcomes.

There isn’t one ‘required subject list’ that applies for all courses, as it will vary dependent on where you study. Your university will be able to signpost their core set of subjects to you.

Generally, you would study these subjects during the first two years of the LLB (or throughout the accelerated LLB). You must have passed these subjects to apply for an entrance certificate, before you start your traineeship.

2. Accelerated Route

Each year a number of students who already hold degrees in another discipline commence the LLB to pursue a career as solicitor. 

The Route to Qualification for Non-Law Graduates

Entry to the legal profession in Scotland for non-law graduates is via the graduate entry LLB (the accelerated LLB), usually offered over two years, and leading to an ordinary degree in Scots Law. Some institutions offer a part-time option over three years.

Unlike the situation in England and Wales, there is no one-year law conversion course for graduates in Scotland – entry for graduates is via the accelerated LLB.

Following successful completion of the graduate entry LLB, you would continue to qualification via the same route as all other law graduates who have undertaken the three or four-year LLB, i.e. you would go on to study the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, followed by a two-year traineeship.

Institutions offering the graduate entry LLB include the following universities: 

Universities with Graduate Entry
The University of Aberdeen
The University of Dundee
The University of Edinburgh
The University of Glasgow
Glasgow Caledonian University
Edinburgh Napier University
Robert Gordon University
The University of Stirling
The University of Strathclyde

You should contact individual institutions directly for further information about their courses.

Entry to the Diploma is decided on the grades achieved during the LLB so it is important you hit the ground running from day one. This will ensure you give yourself the best possible chance of being accepted on to the Diploma at your institution of choice and also to assist you when applying for traineeships. This is because many recruiters look at your individual marks in the LLB when shortlisting candidates.

Career Planning for Accelerated Students

If you do choose the accelerated course, you should be particularly aware of the fact that recruitment in law can happen very early – often up to two years prior to the start of a traineeship (this is typically true of large corporate and commercial firms).

If you are interested in applying for summer placements and internships, please note that many firms and organisations offer structured placements between the penultimate and final year of the LLB, and are often recruiting during the winter leading up to that summer.

Please remember therefore that recruitment for summer placements can be as early as a few weeks into your first year of the two-year course, and recruitment for traineeships can be as early as the summer between your first and second year of the two-year course.

It should also be noted that many firms and organisations do recruit at a variety of stages throughout the degree, Diploma and beyond, but it will help you when searching for a traineeship to be aware of all deadlines so you do not miss any possible opportunities.

As the accelerated course is just two years, it is particularly important you are aware of these timescales.

3. Alternative to University  

There are various reasons why someone might not be able to attend university at the start of their legal education journey. This alternative route is used particularly by individuals who already have jobs working in a Scottish solicitor’s office and want to begin the process of qualifying as a solicitor. Rather than studying the LLB, individuals will undertake a ‘pre-PEAT training contract’.

The alternative route consists of working in a solicitor’s office while studying for exams set by the Law Society of Scotland. Individuals taking this route should be prepared to balance working life with independently studying for examinations, which can be extremely challenging.


Converting from English Law to Scots Law

If you’re a qualified solicitor in England, Wales or Northern Ireland you are eligible to apply for the Intra UK Transfer Test to re-qualify as a solicitor in Scotland.

Before applying to enrol on to the Intra-UK Transfer test, qualified lawyers within the United Kingdom must first be granted a certificate of eligibility. Various supporting documentation and fees are required, details of which can all be found in the application form.

Once your certificate of eligibility has been granted, you are then eligible to enrol for the Intra-UK Transfer test. This is an ‘open book’ test and candidates are permitted to take into the examination hall any books or materials, including a candidate’s own notes.

There are three papers, and these consist of:

Costs Around the Intra-UK Transfer Test

Once you have completed all the stages involved in the requalification process, you can then contact the Education, Training & Qualifications team to apply for Admission. Email legaleduc@lawscot.org.uk to request the relevant paperwork

 

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