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Advocate (Scotland) CV Writing Tip's

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Advocate (Scotland) CV Writing Service

Advocate (Scotland) CV Writing Service

Advocates in Scotland give specialist legal advice to solicitors and other professional clients. They also represent individuals and organisations in court. They are similar to barristers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If you’d like to become an advocate in Scotland, you will need excellent communication skills. You will need to be good at research and writing. You will also need a high degree of attention to detail.

To start as an advocate, you must have a law degree and complete on-the-job training.

The work

As an advocate your work would include:

  • researching points of law from previous similar cases
  • giving written opinions on cases or legal matters
  • advising solicitors and other professionals
  • preparing cases for court, by reading witness statements and reports
  • preparing legal arguments to use in court or at tribunals
  • representing clients in court, at tribunals or public enquiries – presenting the case to the judge and jury, cross-examining witnesses and summing up.

The amount of time that you spend in court would depend on the type of case you are working on. Criminal work would involve you spending a lot of time preparing cases and representing in court, whilst in chancery law (advising on wills, trusts, estates and company law) or civil law, your role would be more office-based.


Hours

Your working hours would often be long and may include evenings and weekends.

As an advocate in private practice, you would be based at the Advocates’ Library in Edinburgh in a group or ‘stable’ of advocates, and divide your time between the stable and court.

Alternatively, you might work for one employer, such as the Procurator Fiscal Service or a corporate company, based at your employer’s offices and attending court, tribunals and meetings as necessary.

When in court you would wear formal dress, including a wig and gown, but otherwise smart business dress is expected.


Income

Most advocates are self-employed, so pay can depend on reputation and the number of cases taken on.

Trainee advocates earn at least £10,000 a year during the ‘devilling’ stage. Practising advocates can earn between £25,000 and £300,000 a year. Salaries in the Procurator Fiscal Service range from £26,000 to £56,000 a year.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.


Entry requirements

To become an advocate, you must meet the Faculty of Advocates’ academic standards and also complete vocational training.

Before you start your vocational training you must have one of the following qualifications to join the Faculty as an ‘Intrant’ (trainee member):

  • an honours degree in Scottish Law from a Scottish university, at class 2:2 or above
  • an ordinary degree in Scottish Law from a Scottish university, plus an honours degree (2:2 or above) in any other subject from a university elsewhere in the UK
  • an ordinary degree with distinction in Scottish Law from a Scottish university.

To get onto a Scottish law degree you will need at least five S grades (1-3), plus five Highers with good grades, usually including English. Alternative qualifications may be accepted, so you should check exact entry requirements with individual course providers.

Most advocates start their vocational training straight after getting their law degree, but this is not essential.


Training and development

After you have completed the academic stage, you must take further vocational training to qualify and practise as an advocate. For this, you must pass:

  • the Diploma in Legal Practice, a one-year full-time postgraduate course at a Scottish university
  • a 21-month period of work in a solicitor’s office (this could be reduced to 12 months if you have a first or second-class honours degree)
  • nine and a half months’ pupillage with a member of the bar (called ‘devilling’), which includes ten weeks of intensive skills training
  • the Faculty of Advocates’ exams in Evidence, Practice and Procedure.

Once you have qualified, you must keep your skills and knowledge up to date throughout your career. You can continue your professional development by taking part in the Faculty’s continuing education programme of seminars, courses, workshops and conferences.


Skills and knowledge

To become an advocate in Scotland, you will need:

  • excellent communication and advocacy skills
  • good research and writing skills
  • confidence at public speaking
  • the ability to analyse large amounts of complex information
  • a logical approach and a high degree of attention to detail
  • the ability to work well under pressure
  • discretion, for working with confidential information
  • the ability to avoid becoming emotionally involved in cases.

Opportunities

Most advocates are self-employed and based in Edinburgh. Alternatively, you could choose to work as a specialist legal adviser for a corporate company or in local or central government (known as the ‘employed Bar’).

This is a competitive profession to enter and there are usually more applicants than places at each stage of training.

With experience, you could become a sheriff or a depute in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. After about ten years of practice, you could apply to ‘take silk’ and become a Queen’s Counsel (senior advocate), or become a judge.

Related industry information

Industry summary

The prosecution service is part of the justice sector, which is represented by Skills for Justice Sector Skills Council. It includes: forensic science; police and law enforcement; courts and tribunals; custodial care; community justice; plus fire and rescue services. The sector works to create and maintain a safe, just and stable society. Its purpose is to reduce crime and re‐offending, promote confidence in the criminal justice system, protect people and contribute to the reduction and fear of crime, and support the administration of justice. The sector employs around 600,000 employees in the UK across a range of organisations operating with different remits.

The prosecution service operates in:

  • Crown Prosecution Service (England and Wales)
  • Crown Office of the Procurator Fiscal (Scotland)
  • Public Prosecution Service (Northern Ireland)
  • Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office (remit extends across the UK)

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is the Government Department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales, it is responsible for: advising the police on cases for possible prosecution; reviewing cases submitted by the police; where the decision is to prosecute, determining the charge (in all but minor cases); preparing cases for court; and the presenting cases at court.

Key facts:

  • In total there are 11,258 people working in prosecution services across the UK, of which:
    • over 8,730 are employed by the Crown Prosecution Service, including around 2,800 lawyers
    • 323 are employed in Revenue and Customs Prosecution Service
  • Just over 1.3 million cases are heard in Magistrates’ courts and another 115,000 in Crown Court.
  • The Crown Prosecution Service consists of 39 offices in England headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor.
  • 67% of the Crown Prosecution Service is female and 12% are from a minority ethnic background.
  • Women across the justice sector as a whole tend to be concentrated in support roles.

Jobs in the industry range from: Legal trainees, Prosecutors, Caseworkers, Administrators, Crown Advocates, Witness Care Officer, Associate Prosecutor.


National and regional data

The East Midlands has 5 CPS Area Offices, which employ 590 full‐time equivalent staff. The five area offices are: Derbyshire; Leicestershire; Lincolnshire; Northamptonshire; and Nottinghamshire.

The East of England has 6 area offices that employ 610 full‐time equivalent staff. The offices are: Bedfordshire; Cambridgeshire; Essex; Hertfordshire; Norfolk; and Suffolk.

London has 2 Area Offices, which together employ approximately 2,160 full‐time equivalent staff, making it the largest CPS region. Additionally, the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office employs 323 staff, which is split between London and Manchester.

The North East has 3 Area Offices, which employ 460 full‐time equivalent staff. The three offices are: Cleveland; Durham; and Northumbria.

The North West has 5 Area Offices that employ 1,240 full‐time equivalent staff. The five offices are: Cheshire; Cumbria; Greater Manchester; Lancashire; and Merseyside. Additionally, the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office employs 323 staff, which is split between London and Manchester. The North West is the second largest region behind London.

The South East has 5 Area Offices that employ 890 full‐time equivalent staff. The five offices are: Hampshire; Kent; Surrey; Sussex; and Thames Valley.

The South West has 5 Area Offices that employ 530 full‐time equivalent staff. The five forces are: Avon and Somerset; Devon and Cornwall; Dorset; Gloucestershire; and Wiltshire.

The West Midlands has 4 Area Offices that employ 870 full‐time equivalent staff. The four offices are: Staffordshire; Warwickshire; West Midlands; and West Mercia.

Yorkshire and Humberside has 4 Area Offices that employ 910 full‐time equivalent staff, the third largest region in England. The four Area Offices are: Humberside; North Yorkshire; South Yorkshire; and West Yorkshire.

The Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service (PPSNI) was formally launched in 2005. The service is regionally based and employs 562 staff, of which 165 are lawyers. There is an expected replacement demand of 25% due to retirements by 2014. The following skill shortages have been identified: provision of experience for prosecutors; management skills for lawyers; potential impact of devolution; and management skills development.

In Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) provide independent public prosecution and deaths investigation service. It is a department of the Scottish Government and is headed by the Lord Advocate. The Procurator Fiscal Service is divided into 11 areas, with an Area Procurator Fiscal for each. There is a network of 48 Procurator Fiscal offices, one for each Sheriff Court district. It employs 1,520 staff of which 30% are legal staff. The following skill shortages have been identified: increased partnership working; leadership and management; and keeping up with legislative change.

In Wales, the Crown Prosecution Service employs over 470 full‐time equivalent staff over four Areas Offices, including: Dyfed Powys; North Wales; Gwent; and South Wales.

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