Katie Wood, Head of Admissions, explains the benefits of taking on a trainee in-house.

It’s an age-old myth…taking on a trainee if you work in-house is a nightmare.  Trainees don’t represent value for money.  Or worse (and completely untrue) the Law Society makes it difficult (!).

No!  Not in the slightest. When a colleague asked me to write this, I have to confess to being slightly lost.  Why do we need me to myth-bust about taking on trainees for an in-house position? The procedures are exactly the same for any trainee, wherever they work!  The benefits of taking on a trainee are the same, wherever they work!

I do notice, however, that traineeships are disproportionately low in-house.  Around 12% of traineeships take place in-house whereas around a third of the profession is employed in that sector.

So, what can the Law Society do to help?  The Education, Training and Qualifications team (or team E, T, Q as we like to call ourselves – pretty natty, right?) are here to support any employer who is thinking about taking on a trainee.  We have produced plenty of guidance about providing traineeships, the style of training contract is on our website and I run a helpline too. The helpline is there to give confidential support on any matter which could arise – issues with trainee performance, queries about the traineeship, as well as encouragement and advice.  I pride myself in being completely unshockable!

There are five steps to successfully taking on a trainee:

  1. Advertise, or go along to one of the university law fairs – make sure you make your vacancy public to as many potential candidates as you can.  The Law Society has negotiated on your behalf to enable you to advertise traineeships for free on LawScotjobs.
  2. Ensure that there is a Scottish qualified solicitor in your organisation who has held a full, unrestricted practising certificate for the past 3 years who can supervise the trainee and train them towards the PEAT 2 Outcomes.
  3. Choose a start date, and make sure the trainee has applied for their Entrance Certificate no less than 4 weeks prior to the commencement of the traineeship.  This is the Law Society certifying that the individual is a fit and proper person to be a solicitor, a process we carry out on behalf of members.
  4. Enter into the training contract.
  5. Train the trainee – carry out quarterly performance reviews with them, enable them to attend TCPD as required during the traineeship.

There is no requirement that a trainee carries out particular types of work, provided that they gain substantive and relevant legal knowledge during their training. They can gain this experience in-house or you could second them to another organisation in order that they gain breadth of experience – perhaps you could arrange a reciprocal arrangement with another trainee employer? 

So – whether your team needs to expand because business looking good, or you’re feeling a professional responsibility to take on a trainee, or you are looking for an individual who can bring freshly gained skills and enthusiasm to your team, please do consider taking on a trainee!  If you have any queries about the traineeship please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

Katie Wood, Head of Admissions at the Law Society of Scotland can be contacted via email katiewood@lawscot.org.uk or by telephone 0131 476 8162

Support for traineeship providers

Specific guidance for supervising solicitors about how they should support their trainees.