There have been a record high number of applications to study the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in the coming year. This has prompted the Law Society of Scotland to write to the six Scottish universities accredited to provide the Diploma to remind them of the importance of acting responsibly and considering likely demand for legal trainees next summer when setting course numbers.
The spike in applications to study the Diploma to a historically high level comes at a time of significant uncertainty across the legal profession with many reporting in a recent survey that they have frozen recruitment.
Amanda Millar, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “It is important that prospective Diploma students are aware of the impact the current circumstances will have on the jobs market and that they may be part of a historically large Diploma cohort. We don’t want to put anyone off becoming a solicitor, but it’s important that students are able to make informed decisions about their future.
“We have written to all accredited providers of the Diploma and reminded them of the importance of taking the needs and requirements of the profession into account when deciding how many students to accept on to the course. We have also highlighted the importance of considering the financial challenges students will face, particularly when it may be harder to get work to support themselves through the Diploma.”
The Law Society, as the accrediting body for Diploma providers, works closely with universities each year to make sure students are fully informed about any factors which might impact on them being able to find a traineeship. It is not unusual for there to be more Diploma graduates than there are traineeships available, but given the significant increase in applications for the Diploma and the current financial situation the traineeship market is likely to be extremely challenging next summer. The Law Society has produced a supplementary guidance note for anyone applying for the diploma in 2020/21 to make applicants aware of the situation.