In recent years, the landscape of legal education and training in Scotland has undergone a significant transformation, offering multiple routes for aspiring solicitors and advocates. Understanding the intricacies of these pathways is crucial for those embarking on their legal journey in Scotland. If you want to become a qualified lawyer in Scotland, this is the right article for you.
Standard Route: The most common route is to complete a four-year LLB with Honours in Scots Law at a recognised Scottish university. The next step involves undertaking the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, known as Professional Education and Training 1 (PEAT 1), a mandatory 26-week practical programme offered at six Scottish universities, including the University of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh, and University of Strathclyde. Subsequently, you embark on a two-year traineeship, known as PEAT 2, at a solicitors' firm, wherein a minimum of 60 hours of trainee continuing professional development is completed. Upon successful completion of your traineeship and meeting other requirements, you can apply to the Law Society of Scotland for admission to the roll of solicitor, which is the one-off process to have your name put on the roll of Scottish solicitors.
Law Conversion Route: For those with a non-law degree, the journey to becoming a lawyer in Scotland is slightly different. Non-law graduates can opt for a two-year accelerated LLB in Scots Law at a recognised Scottish university. This pathway then converges with the standard route, leading to the completion of the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (PEAT 1) and subsequent two-year traineeship (PEAT 2) to become a solicitor.
Alternative Route: An alternative path is available for you if you choose not to pursue a university education. Through a three-year pre-PEAT training contract with a qualified Scottish solicitor, you can fulfil the educational requirements. Upon completion of the training contract, you need to pass the professional exams set by the Law Society of Scotland before moving on to complete the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (PEAT 1) and a two-year traineeship (PEAT 2) to become a solicitor.
Advocate Route: If you aspire to become an advocate, which is the English equivalent of barrister, additional steps and requirements are involved. You must study specific subjects, including Roman Law or Civil Law, and International Private Law during your LLB. Otherwise, you will have to spend additional time to top up your qualification. Then, you proceed to PEAT 1 and PEAT 2 to become a qualified solicitor first, and then join the Faculty of Advocates as an Intrant, followed by a nine-month unpaid devilling, the English equivalent of pupillage, with an experienced advocate known as a devil master. At the end of devilling, you need to pass the Faculty exams before being admitted to membership of the Faculty of Advocates and become an advocate.
The path to becoming a lawyer in Scotland is diverse, accommodating various academic backgrounds and preferences. Staying informed about the evolving legal education landscape and seeking guidance from the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates (the English equivalent of the Bar Standards Board) are crucial to achieving these professional milestones.