As of the morning of 4 June 2021, we have received more applications than the maximum number of organisations that can be supported by the fund. Therefore, any applications received from now on will be placed on a waiting list until we can assess the eligibility of the current applicants.

The Scottish Government’s £1 million fund to support legal aid traineeships in Scotland is now open to applicants.

The fund launched on 3 June 2021 and will provide support for up to 40 new legal aid trainees and pay for up to half of their salaries. In addition, trainees’ regulatory costs, National Insurance, Practising Certificate costs and Trainee CPD will all be half-funded by the grants for the full term of the traineeships. Our press release on the fund launch can be read here and the Scottish Government's statement can be found here.

Organisations that successfully receive funding will enter into a formal agreement between themselves and the Law Society of Scotland, which will administer the fund. In so doing, organisations will need to comply with the eligibility criteria and conditions of grant funding.

The privacy notice is available to download on the left hand side of this page. For more information, please see the Scottish Government's privacy policy and the Law Society of Scotland's privacy policy.

Legal firms/organisations will need to be able to evidence to the Society that 20% of their average business turnover over the two years before 1 April 2020 came from legal aid funding.

  • The funding shall be awarded to the legal firm/organisation applying for the fund for the duration of the traineeship and cannot be transferred to another legal firm/organisation or used for any other purposes.

  • The legal firm/organisation shall only reclaim finances from the fund for 50% of the eligible costs of each funded traineeship post(s) as follows:
    • Salary (based on the Law Society of Scotland's recommended rate of remuneration of trainees)
    • Employers National Insurance Contributions
    • Employers Pension Contributions
    • Costs of Admission inclusive Notarial Public fees
    • Early admission course fees
    • Practising certificate and roll fees
    • Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Levy
    • Trainee CPD or equivalent

  • The legal firm/organisations must use the uniform application form issued by the Law Society of Scotland when recruiting trainees for whom project funding has been awarded, and must take all reasonable steps to follow best practices to ensure an open, fair and diverse recruitment process.

  • The legal firm/organisation shall ensure that:
    • the traineeship post(s) are open to any candidate who (i) holds a LLB in Scots law from a provider accredited by the Law Society of Scotland before commencing their traineeship OR completes a Pre-PEAT Training contract and (ii) completes a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice before commencing the traineeship;
    • the traineeship post(s) are advertised externally via the LawscotJobs website (it is free to advertise traineeship roles on LawScotJobs);
    • the recruitment advertisement states that the post(s) is open to all backgrounds and that applications from under-represented groups, including people with a disability, from minority ethnic communities or from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds are encouraged;
    • the advertisement highlights inclusive and family friendly policies to support the workforce e.g. flexible working, part-time working, where applicable.     

  • The level of remuneration of the trainee will be no lower than the Law Society of Scotland recommended rate of remuneration and any training contract that purports to pay less than the recommended rate of remuneration shall result in cessation of funding. 50% of salary costs at the level of the recommended rate will be paid.

  • The legal firm/organisation must release trainees for extra training events as specified by the Law Society of Scotland, including free training offered by the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

  • The legal firm/organisation shall agree to take part in ongoing monitoring and audit arrangements, including providing data on diversity and equality, during the recruitment process, the traineeship period and on completion of the traineeship. 

  • That at regular review points by the Society there will be clear and obvious evidence that the trainee is undertaking legal aid work.

  • The legal firm/organisation and the trainee shall agree to a longitudinal evaluation of the impact of the fund during and post funding. The aims are: (i) to evaluate the impact of the funding model on the legal aid sector and (ii) to evaluate the impact of the funding on diversity and equality in the legal profession on a short/medium and long-term basis. 

  • The legal firm/organisation shall enter into a legal agreement with the Law Society of Scotland setting out the training and development requirements for the trainee post(s) and explicitly accepting all the aforementioned conditions.

A breach of any of these agreements may lead to funding being suspended or clawed back.

Applying to the fund

All organisations must complete an application form and return it to traineeshipfund@lawscot.org.uk.

*Download the application form here*
  • Funding for traineeships will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • We will indicate if and when we have received 40 applications publicly. However, it may be that some applicants either pull out of the process or do not meet the criteria. For this reason, we will keep applications open after we have received 40 in order to allow a waiting list.
  • A member of the team will notify you when we have received your application and let you know if your application is within the first 40 funded traineeship spaces available, or whether it has been added to the waiting list.
  • We will then confirm whether your application for funding has been successful and, if so, you can progress to the next stage and advertise for a traineeship through LawscotJobs.

A full outline of the process and eligibility criteria are included in the FAQs below.

FAQs
  • To increase the capacity and capability of the legal aid profession in Scotland.
  • To increase diversity and equality within the legal profession by the recruitment and retention of trainees from under-represented groups across the legal profession including people with a disability, from minority ethnic communities, or from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • To provide employment and training opportunities for the purpose of supporting economic regeneration and development.

The terms reached through negotiations between the Scottish Government and the Society include that all traineeships eligible for funding under this scheme must commence after the fund’s official launch date of 3 June 2021. All organisations must evidence that they meet the criteria and can comply with all conditions including, for instance, around the hiring of trainees.

Funding for traineeships will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The first 40 traineeship applications will be considered first, with any thereafter being added to a waiting list that will run in the order we receive the applications. If one of the first 40 places falls through, the first on the waiting list will be offered funding.

To ensure the maximum number of organisations can benefit, those organisations seeking more than one funded traineeship may be required to wait for approval of a second and/or third traineeship.

To be eligible for an award from the project, 20% of applicants’ business turnover must be derived from legal aid funding. The proportion will be calculated by the Law Society of Scotland using each applicant’s average legal aid case volume and the applicant’s average total case volume, based over the two years before 1 April 2020 or such date as is appropriate for the relevant accounting period.

Applicants are required to vouch that legal aid work accounted for at least 20% of turnover over the last two years prior to application. Applicants can vouch this by declaring that legal aid work accounts for at least 20% of their turnover over the relevant period and either:

(a) producing their last two years’ certified accounts, from which the Law Society of Scotland will calculate the proportion of legal aid work done, based on declared turnover divided by declared amount received from the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) in the relevant years.

or

(b) producing a certificate from their accountants for the relevant period demonstrating 20% of applicants’ business turnover is derived from legal aid.

In the event that an applicant chooses to provide vouching by way of option (a) but ultimately cannot demonstrate eligibility through that process (including after any recalculation), they must provide vouching under option (b).

By making this application the organisation declares it meets the above criteria.

Unfortunately, no. There is no mechanism to assess the eligibility of firms that do not have income before April 2020.

The steps of the process are outlined below:

Step 1: Organisation applies to the Society with fully completed form. We will confirm receipt and ask for the financial information outlined in the application form (if this hasn’t been submitted at the same time as the application form)

Step 2:  Application is assessed for approval. If and when approval is intimated to the organisation we will send on the standardised recruitment paperwork to the firm alongside other information.

Step 3: Organisation amends the role specification document and application and sends to LawScotJobs where it is advertised for a minimum of two weeks.

Step 4: After those two weeks the organisation sifts through the applications and decides to interview a number of candidates.

Step 5: Interviews take place and an offer is made to a given candidate (which they accept).

Step 6: The organisation informs the Society the name of the trainee they wish to take on.

Step 7: The normal traineeship processes apply:

(a) If the successful applicant has an entrance certificate in place the training contract can be commenced very quickly (assuming no notice period etc).

(b) if the successful applicant does not have an entrance certificate they will need to apply for one. This can take between four to six weeks depending on volume that our team is dealing with. It may be backdated but this cannot be guaranteed.

Step 8: The training contract needs to be returned to us within 28 days of the commencement date. No funds will be distributed until the training contract has been returned to the Society.

Funded organisations will submit requests for funding monthly in arrears, providing details of the eligible actually incurred expense, and on request by the Society vouchers for same.

Subject to the terms and conditions of the fund, the Society will pay funded organisation monthly in arrears.

It is free to advertise a traineeship on LawscotJobs. Please note you must use the standardised, but amendable application form for trainees that you will receive when your application for funding is approved. Adverts should stay on LawScotJobs for a minimum of 14 days.

Contact Elliot Whitehead at LawScotJobs (elliot@connectcommunications.co.uk) to place the advert and to ensure that all three elements of the standardised application form are downloadable.

Organisations can, of course, additionally advertise elsewhere and promote any vacancy via social media etc.

Yes. The terms reached through negotiations between the Scottish Government and the Society include that all traineeships must be advertised openly to all potential applicants. LawscotJobs was identified as the best platform to do so, because traineeships vacancies are advertised for free and targeted to the Scottish legal market. Organisations may also choose to promote a traineeship vacancy via additional channels, such as social media. Advertising a role openly supports the fund's aim of improving equality and diversity in the legal profession, by increasing chances of accessibility. Staff members may still apply for a traineeship vacancy funded through the scheme via an open recruitment process.

All funded traineeships must be paid, as a minimum, the recommended rate of remuneration for trainee solicitors as set by the Law Society of Scotland annually. Organisations are free to pay more but the maximum that can be reclaimed over the course of the traineeship is £25k.

Trainees must complete 60 hours of trainee CPD, 40 hours of which must specifically be designated as authorised trainee CPD.

There are a number of different providers who offer trainee CPD.

Find out more about the requirements and a list of providers here.

It is expected that successful applicants will meet the cost of TCPD and 50% of the costs will be reimbursed.

Contact us

For any enquiries, or to submit an application, please email us at traineeshipfund@lawscot.org.uk.

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Flexible traineeships

An alternative to a two-year traineeship with one employer is to offer a flexible traineeship. This might involve multiple employers offering a traineeship position together and sharing the trainee's time, looking at part-time options or multiple secondments. There are lots of potential benefits for both employers and trainees.