The number of intending solicitors beginning their traineeship fell slightly in the year to 31 October 2017, but the overall picture is a stable one, according to the Law Society of Scotland.

Figures released for the 2016-17 practice year show that 543 traineeships were begun, compared with 549 the previous year and 540 the year before. The number admitted as solicitor fell from the unusually high 616 of 2015-16 to 495 in 2016-17, close to the 485 of two years before. Of these, 322, or more than 65%, were women and 173 men, and 91% are now employed as a solicitor, in line with the previous year.

In-house traineeships remain disproportionately few, unchanged at 11% of the total although close to 30% of solicitors are employed in-house. More trainees were taken on in the Highlands & Islands area – up from nine to 19 – and the 58 registered with a firm with a sole principal represented a 26% rise, but 75% are still in the central belt and 30% in firms with 31 or more partners.

The Society stated that the total number of traineeships has remained relatively static over the past four years, suggesting stability in the traineeship market. However, in recent years the number of students undertaking the Diploma in Profession Legal Practice – the normal stage immediately prior to a traineeship – has been closer to 700, leaving some would-be solicitors without a training place on leaving university.