Key facts

It is essential that trainees and supervisors familiarise themselves with what work can and cannot be carried out during the traineeship.

Trainees should not work;

  • without adequate training,
  • without appropriate supervision,
  • without having gained sufficient knowledge and experience in the area of work which they are seeking to carry out.

Trainees must correctly identify themselves to clients and to the Courts and to any other relevant persons or bodies who they communicate with, as “Trainee Solicitors”, in order to avoid any misunderstanding or misrepresentation.

When should a trainee apply for admission?

Trainees can apply to the us to be admitted to the roll of solicitors at three stages:

  • Between months three-11 of the traineeship at the discretion of their supervising solicitor
  • After one year of the traineeship
  • At the end of the traineeship

If trainees are admitted to the roll of solicitors during their traineeship, they can apply to take out a Restricted Practising Certificate. If trainees wait until the end of their traineeship to be admitted, they can apply to take out a full (unrestricted) Practising Certificate.

Find out more about applying for admission.

Trainees and supervisors might make a decision about when it's best to apply for admission based on the type of work an employer would like them to carry out during the traineeship. There are different rules about what you can/can't do as a trainee solicitor dependent on whether you are admitted and hold a Restricted Practising Certificate and if you are admitted as a Notary Public. This information is summarised below.

The information below appears in full in the Admission as a Solicitor (Scotland) Regulations 2019.

What work can a trainee carry out?

A trainee solicitor who has not been admitted may in respect of court, tribunal and police procedure matters:

(1)        sit with and instruct Counsel in any Court including the High Court and the Court of Session;

(2)        appear at a Fatal Accident Inquiry with the leave of the Sheriff;

(3)        appear before the Lands Tribunal with the leave of the Tribunal;

(4)        appear before an Employment Tribunal;

(5)        appear before the Valuation Appeals Committee;

(6)        appear before a Mental Health Tribunal;

(7)        appear before a licensing board;

(8)        appear at a Children's Hearing unless the case is referred to a Sheriff;

(9)        visit a client in custody;

(10)       attend police station procedures and Video Identification Parade Electronic Recording Scheme. 

A trainee solicitor who has been admitted and holds a practising certificate subject to conditions may undertake all duties in the point above, 'duties that any trainee can undertake', in addition to:

(1)        appear in the Sheriff Court in a Simple Procedure matter;

(2)        in relation to an action raised prior to 28 November 2016 appear in Small Claims, Summary Cause, Ordinary Cause and Family Actions but during the first year of their standard training contract or the first two years of their non-PEAT 1 training contract a trainee solicitor may not conduct a debate or proof in an Ordinary Cause or Family Action where the value of the case is greater than £20,000;

(3)        in relation to an action raised after 28 November 2016 appear in a Summary Cause, Ordinary Cause or Family Actions but during the first year of their standard training contract or the first two years of their non-PEAT 1 training contract a trainee solicitor may not conduct a debate or proof where the value of the case is greater than £20,000;    

(4)        appear in a solemn matter but only at a first appearance, bail application or full committal hearing;

(5)        appear in trials;

(6)        appear at a pleading diet (including custody cases) or intermediate diet;

(7)        appear at a sentencing diet and make a plea in mitigation;

(8)        appear at a criminal summary Community Payback Order review;

(9)        appear in the Justice of the Peace Court;

(10)       appear before an Immigration Tribunal;

(11)       appear at a Children's Hearing;

(12)       appear at a potential police interview;

(13)       be appointed as a curator ad litem;

(14)       grant legal advice and assistance but not as the nominated solicitor;

(15)       give advice on settlement agreements in employment law;

(16)       sign a document which requires to be signed by a solicitor.

A trainee solicitor who has been admitted as a Notary Public and holds a Restricted Practising Certificate may carry out notarial functions including:

(1)        swear oaths, affidavits and affirmations;

(2)        swear affidavits in undefended divorces;

(3)        swear affidavits under the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003;

(4)        protest in a maritime law matter;

(5)        notarise foreign documents;

(6)        undertake notarial execution.

Where you can get more advice