There are a number of differences in terms of the timeline and process for qualifying as a solicitor in Scotland compared to England and Wales. These differences are set out below.
Scotland has a separate legal system, regulatory body for the profession and judicial system which requires a different pathway to practise for Scottish Solicitors.
Students must either study for an undergraduate qualifying law degree, the LLB – which must include Scots Law modules and be from one of 10 accredited Universities. Or, take one of two pathways – the Accelerated LLB, a post-graduate entry route taken over 2 years (similar to the Graduate Diploma in Law, GDL) or undertake what is called a Pre-Peat Training Contract, which is an alternative to university route option.
If you are a qualified solicitor in England and Wales, and wish to practise in Scotland, you can transfer your qualification through the Qualified Lawyers Assessment.
For full, up to date and concise information please go to the Law Society of Scotland’s website: https://www.lawscot.org.uk/qualifying-and-education/qualifying-as-a-scottish-solicitor/.
The process in Northern Ireland has several different aspects compared to England and Wales, and Scotland.
The most common route is through an LLB degree from the approved list of qualifying law degrees found at https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/InstituteofProfessionalLegalStudies//.
This is followed by enrolment with the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queens University Belfast, and the selection of a ‘Master’ (a solicitor who supervises training on the apprenticeship).
The student then concurrently studies at the Institute in between two stints of work experience in the office supervised by the Master, which in practise is often many people in that solicitor’s practice.
The calendar works out as follows.
Over 2 years: (a). September to December – spent in-office, (b). January to December – spent at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies and (c). January to August – spent in-office.
Other routes into practise in Northern Ireland are available, such as through qualifying work experience and for transferral of qualifications from another jurisdiction.
For up to date and concise information please go to https://www.lawsoc-ni.org/becoming-a-solicitor.