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Traineeships up again, but demand still greater

25 January 2017

The number of traineeships available for aspiring solicitors in Scotland rose by 2% in the year to 31 October 2016, the Law Society of Scotland has revealed.

A total of 549 individuals begain their training contract during the most recent practice year, the same percentage increase as in the previous year – despite a 26% fall in the number of places in the Aberdeen area, a figure likely to be due to the downturn in the oil and related industries. The difference meant that 80% of traineeships begun were in the central belt, an increase of 5%.

It remains the case that a number of students undertaking the postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, the normal precursor to a training contract, are likely to be disappointed in their efforts to secure a place, as 691 embarked on the Diploma in the previous academic year and a further 675 started in academic year 2016-17. The Society however described the difference as "not unmanageable".

Of those who completed their traineeship last year, 90% are currently employed as solicitors, again a 2% increase on the 88% in the previous year.

Other figures of note are:

  • 11% of traineeships are in house, unchanged on the previous year;
  • there was an overall 6% increase in the number of traineeships in firms with 21-30 partners, and a corresponding decrease in the number at firms with 11-20 partners;
  • 63% of solicitors admitted over the last five years, and 65% of those admitted in 2015-16, are female.

Katie Wood, head of admissions at the Law Society of Scotland, commented: "The Society’s traineeship statistics are a useful resource for all those interested and involved in the legal profession. The latest set of results is encouraging for solicitors, trainees, students and the Law Society.

"Those considering the next step in their legal career, in particular those thinking of doing the PEAT 1 Diploma in Professional Legal Practice or currently on the Diploma and looking for a traineeship, should be encouraged by the latest figures. The number of training contracts continues to rise at a consistent pace year on year and there has been a very slight decrease in the number of Diploma students commencing their studies in 2016-17. As such we would not anticipate an unmanageable mismatch between graduates and traineeships.

“One figure of concern is the 26% drop in traineeships in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. It is a competitive marketplace and we would strongly encourage aspiring solicitors to continue to follow our careers advice on looking for a traineeship."

She added: “It is also encouraging to see that 90% of those admitted in the last year are now employed as solicitors, and our advice for employers on taking on a trainee provides a factual look at what’s involved in providing traineeships along with an outline of opportunities and benefits. Trainee contributions are not only financial; often they bring a range of new skills to the firms in which they are placed. Flexible traineeships, such as sharing a trainee with another firm or offering a part-time traineeship, are a good option for some firms. Again the Law Society is keen to support anyone interested in taking on a trainee and would encourage them to consult our website or get in touch with our Education, Training & Qualifications team.”

Click here fr further information, including on the latest statistics.

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