There are various reasons why someone might not be able to, or might not wish to attend university at the start of their legal education journey. This alternative route is used particularly by individuals who already have jobs working in a Scottish solicitor's office and want to begin the process of qualifying as a solicitor. Rather than studying the LLB, individuals will undertake a 'pre-PEAT training contract'.
The alternative route consists of working in a solicitor's office while studying for exams set by the Law Society of Scotland. Individuals taking this route should be prepared to balance working life with independently studying for examinations, which can be extremely challenging.
Please note that the Law Society cannot source pre-PEAT training contracts for prospective applicants. We can however offer information and guidance to both the individual applicant and the training firm or organisation. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Guidelines for in-office training
The following guidelines aim to:-
1. specify the respective roles and obligations of trainers and trainees
2. specify the essential features of a traineeship
3. provide guidance in relation to the type of skills and experience which Trainees should acquire during their three year in-office traineeship.
The Law Society recommends that firms and other training organisations identify a partner or qualified solicitor with responsibility for monitoring the work and progress made by any Trainee(s) employed, in keeping with the spirit of these Guidelines.
It is in the interests of both the employing solicitor and the Trainee to have the aims and expectations of the traineeship clarified and these Guidelines aim to assist in that connection.
To provide training in accordance with these guidelines and in particular:-
1. to provide practical instruction and the opportunity for the trainee to obtain experience, under supervision, in areas of legal practice undertaken by the employing firm/organisation including training in the three prescribed areas of conveyancing, litigation and either trusts and executries or the legal work of a public authority
2. to ensure that the trainee is adequately supervised and assisted at all times during the traineeship
3. to teach the trainee the principles of good professional conduct and ethics
4. to establish and apply systems for:-
(a) monitoring the in-office traineeship
(b) providing regular guidance to the trainee
(c) appraisal of the trainee’s performance
(d) discussing any difficulty or dispute which occurs during the traineeship.
5. to follow good personnel practice in all matters relating to the traineeship.
6. to provide appropriate office accommodation, secretarial support and access to appropriate library or research materials
7. to make arrangements for the trainee to attend appropriate lectures and/or training seminars throughout the traineeship
8. to support and encourage the trainee to study for and sit the Law Society’s professional examinations.
Duties of a trainee
1. to carry out practical work and gain experience in appropriate areas of legal practice, including conveyancing, litigation and either trusts and executries or the legal work of a public authority as agreed with his/her trainer
2. to maintain the absolute confidentiality of the business affairs of the trainer and clients
3. to perform the legal work required by the trainer to the best of his/her ability, with due regard to the interests of the trainer and the clients
4. to undertake such research as is necessary in relation to all legal work performed for the trainer
5. to seek to acquire knowledge and to apply best practice and acquire an understanding of good professional conduct and ethics
6. to accept responsibility for personal progress during the traineeship and in particular to:-
(a) seek guidance from the trainer, when necessary to perform legal work properly
(b) assess his/her workload and advise the employer of any perceived shortfall or excess
7. to undertake regular personal study and/or training, to enhance the practical experience gained during the traineeship
8. to study for and sit the required Law Society of Scotland’s professional examinations. It should be noted that we do not provide any courses in preparation for our professional examinations and that a good examination record is important as it is taken into account by the universities when they are considering applications for places on the Diploma in Legal Practice course.
It is recognised that it is not possible to prescribe precisely what experience a trainee will require to obtain during a Pre-PEAT traineeship. These guidelines are therefore intended to be treated in a flexible manner, having regard to the variety of practice undertaken by trainers and the needs of the trainer’s clients.
Legal practice skills
The traineeship should provide a trainee with the opportunity to acquire skills and experience of applying the law in ‘real-life’ situations, while always subject to an adequate level of supervision, to protect the interests of the client, the trainee and the firm.
Again, the following guidelines are not intended to be prescriptive but to offer assistance in achieving training experience of appropriate range and quality. It is also the case that each trainee’s rate of progress will vary, depending on his or her particular abilities. Regard should therefore be paid to the level of responsibility and involvement in practical work allocated to the trainee, recognising that they should be allowed to develop skills over the whole period of the traineeship.
(a) Professional conduct/ethics
During the traineeship, trainees should become familiar with the fundamental principles of good practice and the need to have proper regard to issues of professional conduct and ethics
The trainee will come into contact with many people and must develop communication skills and apply them when dealing with colleagues, other solicitors, external bodies and clients.
(c) Time and work management
Trainees should be advised of the need to adopt appropriate methods of organising/prioritising their workload.
(d) Legal research
Trainees should develop the ability to carry out such research as is necessary to identify and to deal effectively with the legal issues or problems facing clients.
(e) Office Procedures
At the beginning of the traineeship, the trainee should receive some induction training covering office procedures, including the following matters:-
(a) office administration - reception/telephone procedures
- secretarial support
- cashier/accounts staff
- office opening/closing hours and security arrangements
(b) office systems - stationery and mailing systems, including signature of correspondence
- office equipment/IT systems
- filing systems
- library/research facilities
(c) personnel matters - salary
- annual leave/sickness
- health and safety
- training contract