It is starting to become more common but most people still do not realise that there is no need to complete a Law Degree to qualify as a Solicitor in Scotland. There is an alternate route known as a Pre-PEAT Traineeship with the Law Society of Scotland.
Taking the non-traditional route
What it involves is a three-year traineeship with a Law Firm while undergoing self-study, sitting Law Society Exams, and on-the-job training. You will need to have previous legal experience and other qualifications to do so but it allows those of us who are further on in our lives and careers to still qualify without going to University.
In my personal experience, I underwent an HND in Legal Services as a teenager and have worked as a Legal Secretary in Litigation, Private Client, Commercial and Residential Conveyancing. I have also completed Paralegal Qualifications in Family Law, Residential Conveyancing and Commercial Conveyancing. When I decided I wanted to qualify as a Solicitor, I was working full-time as a Law Society Accredited Paralegal with a caseload in Residential Conveyancing. From my point of view, studying for a degree with a career and a young family was not something I had time for. I was however lucky enough to undergo the Pre-PEAT Traineeship in another Law Firm.
At the end of the three years, you then do have to go on and sit your Diploma in Legal Practice but I was able to do so through online study with Robert Gordon University. While not easy with full-time employment in a busy area, it is possible to do this full-time over an eight-month period or part-time over two years.
It was when I completed the Diploma that I had to decide what I wanted to do about my Traineeship. The thought of applying for a traditional Traineeship with younger candidates who had spent their years at University being prepared for presentations was terrifying in all honesty. My experience of interviews is a face-to-face first interview, potentially a second one then if I was lucky, being offered the job. Going down the route of applying with the rest of my graduating class was something that filled me with dread.
Using a different skill set to my advantage
What I had not however considered is that my experience as a Paralegal meant that I could be looked at differently than the other potential Trainees. I have a whole different skill set to bring to the Firm. I, therefore, have found in Gilson Gray the Traineeship I needed and wanted. I am able to continue in Residential Conveyancing, working on a full caseload as I have done for more year than I want to admit. I am however also given the opportunity to train with my fellow Trainees in the Firm. I have taken part in the same induction process as they have and have access to the same resources. My training can focus on my becoming a Solicitor rather than learning how to complete a conveyancing transaction.
This does not mean I have nothing more to learn in Conveyancing, there are always further developments and there is the opportunity to be involved in more complicated transactions than would have perhaps been available as a Paralegal. I also need to learn to focus on the business development side of things which I am looking forward to.
Gilson Gray and looking ahead to the future
What I would say is that to anyone who has gone down the alternate route to qualification and does not know if they can apply for a Traineeship along with the University graduates, this definitely is not the case. At Gilson Gray, I have found the Traineeship I needed to build the foundation for my career and I’m looking forward to seeing where this will now take me.
For full details about our traineeship offer and to apply click here .