How To Become An Advocate In Scotland

August 25, 2022
What is an Advocate?

Advocates in Scotland are the equivalent of a barrister in England and Wales. Nevertheless, the path to qualification in Scotland is rather different from its English counterpart. We focus on Scotland in this piece

How to become an Advocate- the first step?

The first step in becoming an advocate in Scotland is completing the four-year LLB with Honours programme. If you hold an LLB without Honours, you will have to do a Masters of Law (LLM) that would make up for the lack of Honours courses.

In Scotland, those that did not study an LLB programme cannot enter the legal profession unless they do the two-year accelerated LLB or the pre-PEAT training contract. However, the usual path to qualifying when you have a previous non-law degree is the accelerated LLB. It is noteworthy that the accelerated LLB does not come with Honours courses. However, if you have previously completed an Honours degree, the Honours courses from your first degree will count. Therefore, if this applies to you, you will not need to do an LLM after the accelerated LLB.

The Faculty of Advocates, which is the institution that regulates the training and professional practice of advocates in Scotland, requires the prospective advocates to undertake two courses. These two courses are Roman Law or Civil Law and International Private Law.  These courses can be taken either at the undergraduate level, or during the Diploma. They need to be passed before you start devilling. Interestingly these two courses are not required by the Law Society of Scotland, which means that to become a solicitor in Scotland, you do not necessarily need to have taken these courses.

After the LLB- the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice

After your LLB, you will be required to take the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice. This is a one-year course which focuses on practical skills and it is available at six Scottish universities: the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow, the University of Aberdeen, the University of Dundee, the University of Strathclyde and Robert Gordon University.

Solicitor or Advocate?

The next step is undergoing a paid two-year traineeship with a practising solicitor. After the two-year traineeship, you can decide if you want to become an advocate or qualify as a solicitor. If you decide to take the advocate route as soon as you finish your traineeship, you will have to apply as an ‘Intrant’ to the Faculty of Advocates. ‘Intrant’ is the name used by the Faculty of Advocates for the candidate for admission to the Faculty.

The final step in becoming an advocate is completing a nine-month unpaid apprenticeship called devilling. This is the Scottish equivalent of a pupillage. The devilling is done under the supervision of a practising advocate with at least seven years of experience, called devilmaster. Devilling compromises both academic work and practical work, such as cross-examination of witnesses or shadowing practising advocates.

Devilling cannot be done alongside your traineeship. Therefore, applicants need to make sure that they have sufficient resources to fund their devilling for 10 months. Nevertheless, the Faculty of Advocates offers a number of scholarships to help with the funds for the devilling period.

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