What are your options if you're going on maternity leave or taking a career break?
If you are going be away for less than 13 months...
...and are reasonably sure that you will be returning to your previous role, then we recommend that you keep hold of your practising certificate. You will still need to meet your CPD requirement and pay the necessary fees, but it does mean that you can return to practice without having to reapply.
If you are going to be away for more than 13 months...
... you might consider giving up your practising certificate. If you do give it up we recommend that you take up a non-practising member or roll-only membership option as it helps keep you in touch with what’s going on. You would also be subject to disclosure, and required to reapply for your practising certificate (see below) and may have to come back on a restricted basis. If you are returning from maternity leave, that restriction should not conflict with your employer’s obligation to offer you your job with the same terms and conditions.
See our Parents in the Profession Guide for more information.
Returning to practice
Getting your practising certificate back if you decide to start practising again
Firsty, we are delighted to welcome you back to practice. There are a couple steps you have to take before you receive your practising certificate. We recommend that you allow plenty of time to allow that to happen. Secondly, you need to be on the roll of solicitors before you apply for a practising certificate. If you are not on the roll, please read the section below on returning to the roll of solicitors. If you are already on the roll , the next step is to contact our Registrar team who will advise you on the application process, your CPD requirements and depending how you intend to practise, what your fees will be.
As you will not held a practising certificate in the last 13 months, you will need to submit a Disclosure application. If you have a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure Scotland Certificate dated in the last six months, you should enclose a copy of it with your application. Subject to its terms there may be no need for us to carry out a fresh check.
It is important that you complete this form accurately and provide the required identification, copies of which should include one photo ID and one showing your personal address. We complete the countersignature section. There is an additional fee of £25 in relation to the disclosure application which is payable to the Law Society of Scotland.
Please note that, at busy times, it can take up six weeks for Disclosure Scotland to process an application.
Practising certificate application
The application is available from the Registrar's team and you should contact them in the first instance.
It is important that you include the following information in your practising certificate application -
- Your full employment history since you last held a practising certificate with particular reference to any work involving the provision of legal services
- Details of any continuing professional development or training undertaken during that period
- If you were subject to regulation by another legal services or other regulatory authority (if yes, please provide details)
- An explanation of why you want a practising certificate
The reason we need this information is that it allows us to make a more accurate assessment as to the conditions we might apply to your practising certificate. As you might appreciate, we need to consider applying conditions to solicitors who have been away from practice for a period of more than 13 months. We do this to ensure that returning solicitors are given time to get back up to speed before being allowed to carry out certain activities. The restrictions are generally around; not practising as a partner (manager), not setting up in practice on your own account, working under supervision and/or not carrying out legal aid work. The nature and duration of the restrictions can vary depending on how long you have been away from practice and what you have been doing since you last practised.
For in-house solicitors, if your new employer queries why conditions have been applied to your practising certificate, please contact email@example.com and we’ll be happy to provide any clarification or reassurance required.
For information on the legislative background and the appeal process - sections 15 and 16 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980.
Returning to the roll of solicitors
To return to the roll of solicitors, please contact the Registrar team for information.
You will need:
- an application form, including:
- an affidavit sworn before a notary
- two character references from existing members
- a new Disclosure Scotland application
- to pay the £100 fee